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Business Highlights

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Hostess launches “Deep Fried Twinkies” as first frozen treat

NEW YORK (AP) — The deep-fried Twinkie is jumping from the state fair to the home freezer.

Hostess Brands, the maker of lunchbox treats like Ho Hos, is launching packaged “Deep Fried Twinkies” starting Friday that mark its first foray into frozen foods. The cream-filled snack in vanilla or chocolate is the result of a yearlong collaboration between Hostess and Wal-Mart, as both companies look to spark food sales with innovative products.

Battered and partially fried before being frozen, the Twinkies need to be finished for a short time in the oven, toaster oven or frying pan. They’ll cost $4.76 for a box of seven and for the first three months are available only at Wal-Mart.

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Tepid retail sales lower expectations for US economic growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sluggish month of retail spending has tempered expectations for the U.S. economy’s growth in the coming months.

Consumers pulled back on shopping and eating out in July after three straight solid monthly gains, the government said Friday. Those declines were offset by increases in auto sales and online and catalogue sales.

Many economists credited the surge in online and catalogue spending, which rose 1.3 per cent, mainly to deals offered during Amazon’s “Prime Day” on July 12. Amazon said its sales rose 60 per cent on Prime Day compared with a year earlier.

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US stock indexes edge mostly lower; oil rises

Wall Street capped a record-setting week with a day of mostly listless trading Friday that left the three major U.S. stock indexes essentially flat.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed slightly lower. The Nasdaq composite eked out a tiny gain, giving the tech-heavy index its fourth record-high close in a week.

Investors mostly focused on the latest batch of company earnings from retailers and other companies, as well as new data indicating that U.S. retail sales in July were more sluggish than expected.

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J.C. Penney reports smaller quarterly loss as sales improve

NEW YORK (AP) — After a tough start to the year, J.C. Penney’s business enjoyed a bounce in the second quarter, fueled by efforts to bring back appliances and spruce up other sections of the store.

The Plano, Texas-based department store chain reported a smaller loss for the second quarter compared to a year earlier as sales improved. CEO Marvin Ellison believes the company can maintain the momentum with a slew of new brands and other enticements coming in the next few months.

In addition to its own efforts, Penney is benefiting from store closings by Macy’s and Sears Holdings Inc. Ellison told analysts Friday the company has seen sales improve in malls where its rivals shuttered their stores.

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3 years into nation’s hemp experiment, crop’s future is hazy

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — Three years into the nation’s hemp experiment, a 20-acre farm in southern Colorado exemplifies the crop’s hazy potential.

Hemp could be enormously profitable, but right now there are just as many questions as answers for Will and Ally Cabaniss, two Florida natives who moved to southern Colorado to embark on the hemp business.

“Every day brings something new and different,” said Will Cabaniss, holding up a red plastic cup containing a hemp seedling awaiting planting. “Right now we’re just building data for the industry, seeing what works and what doesn’t.”

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Fox News names Abernethy, Shine as co-presidents

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel founder Rupert Murdoch on Friday appointed two longtime Fox executives as the new co-presidents of the news network as it restructures after last month’s departure of Roger Ailes following sexual harassment allegations.

Both Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine were with Fox News when it started in 1996. Shine, who had been one of Ailes’ top deputies, will run the editorial operations for Fox News and its sister Fox Business Network. Abernethy had left the news channel to run Fox’s stable of 28 local stations and he’ll keep that job, while overseeing the business operations of the two networks. Both will report to Murdoch, who will continue to oversee things as executive chairman.

The moves sent a signal to Fox News viewers that despite a scandal that has widened since Ailes’ resignation, they shouldn’t worry that their favourite network is abandoning them.

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Chinese auto sales accelerate in July

BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales growth accelerated in July, an industry group said Friday, while General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. reported record demand for the month.

Sales in the world’s biggest auto market rose 26.3 per cent to 1.6 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 23 per cent to 1.8 million units.

Sales of SUVs, whose explosive popularity has helped to buoy demand as other categories sagged, soared 47.4 per cent to 580,000 vehicles.

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South Korea to review toxins data disclosure process

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea plans to review if there was any negligence in the government’s handling of sick workers’ inquiries about workplace toxins, after an Associated Press investigation found the government repeatedly withheld such information following requests from Samsung.

Ko Dong-woo, a director at the Labor Ministry, said Friday that the ministry took the AP report seriously and would ensure officials properly evaluate information requests from workers seeking government compensation for work-related illnesses.

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China reports weaker July activity but says economy stable

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese factory output and other economic activity weakened in July, data showed Friday, but an official tried to reassure companies and investors growth is stable.

Growth in retail sales, factory output and investment all decelerated from June levels, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Private sector analysts have warned economic growth, which held steady at 6.7 per cent for the three months ending in June, was showing signs of weakening heading into the current quarter.

The data indicate “the third quarter has started off on a weak footing,” said Brian Jackson of IHS Markit in a report.

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Smiley faces at small company making popular emoji apps

Mobile apps that allow users to create their own emojis or share the stylized images of NBA star Stephen Curry and other celebrities are paying off for a small upstate New York company.

Moji Maker— with its mix-and-match menu of happy, angry or goofy faces — was the No. 2 paid app on the iTunes chart as of Friday morning. The company that made it, Moji, recently scored big with its Curry app and is following up with similarly styled apps for two Olympic athletes who won gold this week: swimmer Michael Phelps and gymnast Simone Biles.

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Security experts: Remotes are hackable on many vehicles

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A group of computer security experts say they figured out how to hack the keyless entry systems used on millions of cars, meaning that thieves could in theory break and steal items without leaving a broken window.

The experts say that remote entry systems on millions of cars made by Volkswagen since 1995 can be cloned to permit unauthorized access to the car’s interior.

The same experts say another system used by other brands including Ford, General Motor’s Opel and Chevrolet and Renault can also be defeated.

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The Dow fell 37.05 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 18,576.47. The S&P 500 index lost 1.74 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,184.05. The Nasdaq bucked the trend, adding 4.50 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,232.89.

Benchmark U.S. crude was rose $1, or 2.3 per cent, to close at $44.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 93 cents, or 2 per cent, to close at $46.97 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline added a penny to $1.37 a gallon, while heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.41 a gallon. Natural gas gained 3 cents to $2.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.