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Business Highlights

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World Trade Center mall re-opens, shows progress since 9-11

NEW YORK (AP) — The re-opening of the World Trade Center mall Tuesday is expected to help transform downtown Manhattan shopping and illustrate how much progress has been made in rebuilding and revitalizing the area since the 9-11 attacks.

The 365,000-square-foot centre will have more than 100 stores serving an increasingly area residents and workers but also tourists who come to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Bill Hecht, chief operating officer of Westfield Corp.’s U.S. division, describes the location as a “symbol of hope, opportunity, progress and perseverance.”

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US stocks slip from records as investors sell safe picks

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks slid Tuesday as investors continued to sell phone company and utility shares. Energy companies rose with the price of oil, but stocks have been locked in an up-and-down pattern for more than a week.

As the dollar weakened, the price of oil rose for the fourth day in a row to sustain a recent recovery and metals prices also rose. Most stocks were down, but for the second day in a row, the biggest losses went to traditionally safe investments like telecom and utility companies. Bond prices also inched lower.

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US consumer prices unchanged in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in July as a big drop in gasoline and other energy prices kept inflation under control.

The Labor Department said Tuesday the flat reading for overall inflation followed a 0.2 per cent gain in June. Energy prices fell by the largest amount in five months. Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food, edged up 0.1 per cent in July, the smallest increase in four months.

The Federal Reserve has an inflation target of 2 per cent annual increases.

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Home Depot rides housing boom to record sales, profit

NEW YORK (AP) — Home Depot posted record sales and earnings during its second quarter and raised its profit expectations for the year as the U.S. housing market continues to warm up.

The home improvement retailers have been a bright spot as other shops like department stores are seeing sales slow, hurt by consumers who’ve shifted away from buying clothing and more toward experiences, fixing up their houses and services like spas.

Home Depot’s profit jumped 9 per cent to $2.44 billion, or $1.97 per share, beating market expectaitons. Sales surged 6.6 per cent to $26.47 billion, also slightly better than expected.

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Miner BHP Billiton suffers $6.4 billion loss for 2015-16

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The world’s biggest miner, BHP Billiton, on Tuesday reported a $6.4 billion loss — the Anglo-Australian company’s worst ever full-year result — resulting from weak commodity prices, a plunge in the value of its U.S. shale oil assets and a costly dam disaster in Brazil.

BHP said its revenue sank 31 per cent in the fiscal year ending June 30, to $30.1 billion. It also took $4.9 billion in write downs of its U.S. oil and gas assets.

Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said the year was a difficult one for his company and the resource industry.

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Struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble fires CEO after a year

NEW YORK (AP) — Struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble says its chief executive officer is departing after just a year in office.

The company’s board says it determined Ronald D. Boire was not a good fit and it is in the “best interests of all parties” for him to step down. Executive chairman and former CEO Leonard Riggio, who was scheduled to retire on Sept. 14, will postpone his retirement. A search for a new CEO will begin immediately.

Barnes & Noble is working on a turnaround plan after years of challenges as more people shop for books online and at discount stores.

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US factory output jumps 0.5 per cent for biggest gain in year

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories cranked out more autos, machinery and chemicals in July, lifting production by the most in a year.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that factory output grew 0.5 per cent in July, after a 0.3 per cent gain in June.

The figures suggest that U.S. manufacturing may be turning a corner after struggling to overcome the impact of a stronger dollar, slower overseas growth and falling oil prices.

Overall industrial production, which includes utilities and mining, expanded 0.7 per cent. That is the biggest increase since November 2014.

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Insurer Aetna slashes ACA exchange participation to 4 states

Aetna has become the latest health insurer to retreat from the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges by announcing a pullback that will further deplete customer choices in many pockets of the country.

The nation’s third largest insurer says it plans to leave nearly 70 per cent of the counties in which it currently sells coverage as it trims exchange participation to four states in 2017, down from 15 this year. The insurer’s announcement comes after UnitedHealth and Humana detailed their own exchange pull backs for 2017 and more than a dozen non-profit insurance co-ops have shut down in recent years.

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Ford to invest $75M in autonomous vehicle sensor company

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. intends to have a fully driverless vehicle — no steering wheel, no pedals — on the road within five years. The car will initially be used for commercial ride-hailing or ride-sharing services; sales to consumers will come later.

“This is a transformational moment in our industry and it is a transformational moment for our company,” said CEO Mark Fields, as he announced the plan at Ford’s Silicon Valley campus in Palo Alto, California.

Ford’s approach to the autonomous car breaks from many other companies, like Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors, which plan to gradually add self-driving capability to traditional cars. Just last month, BMW AG, Intel Corp. and the automotive camera maker Mobileye announced a plan to put an autonomous vehicle with a steering wheel on the road by 2021.

Instead, Ford is taking the same approach as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which supports moving directly to self-driving cars once the technology is perfected.

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Tesla car catches fire during promotional event in France

PARIS (AP) — A Tesla electric car caught fire during a promotional tour in southwest France, and those aboard escaped unharmed.

Tesla said in a statement that it is “working with the authorities to establish the facts” about Monday’s fire in Bayonne.

The driver was quoted in local newspaper Sud Ouest as saying he answered a Facebook ad offering test drives of the Model S sedan. The driver said he saw smoke, and the three people aboard got out before seeing it catch fire.

Regional administration spokesman Patrice Abbadie said Tuesday that nobody was hurt and no property was damaged.

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UK manufacturers see costs jump in wake of Brexit vote

LONDON (AP) — The pound’s sharp drop following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is starting to weigh on companies, particularly manufacturers, by increasing the cost of the imported raw materials and goods they require to do business.

Official figures released Tuesday showed that producer prices jumped 4.3 per cent in the year through July as the cost of imports soared due to the pound’s decline.

Higher costs for manufacturers will pinch companies’ profit margins and eventually mean a higher cost of living for consumers, said Scott Corfe, director of the Center for Economics and Business Research.

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The Dow Jones industrial average sank 84.03 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 18,552.02. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 12 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,178.15. The Nasdaq composite declined 34.90 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,227.11.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 84 cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $46.58 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international oils, rose 88 cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $49.23 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.42 a gallon. Heating oil picked up 1 cent to $1.46 a gallon. Natural gas gained 3 cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.