Business Highlights


Department store chains see key sales figures fall again

NEW YORK (AP) — Department store chains saw key sales figures fall again in the latest quarter as customers increasingly move online. At Macy's the decrease wasn't as bad as Wall Street expected and Kohl's managed to keep the decline to just 0.4 percent. Shares in the stores fell.


Postal Service: More red ink, missed payments as mail slumps

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service is warning that it will likely default on up to $6.9 billion in payments for future retiree health and pension benefits for the fifth straight year. It is citing a coming cash crunch that could disrupt day-to-day mail delivery. The post office said it expected cash balances to run low by October. Postmaster General Megan Brennan says the Postal Service needs to be given wide flexibility to raise stamp rates to keep financially afloat.


Beware at the pump: Black market fuel is making millions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — There is a black market for fuel in the United States, and it has rapidly become a lucrative, widespread organized crime venture syphoning millions of dollars from gas stations. Authorities are taking notice as thieves make counterfeit cards with stolen account information and use them to fill large tanks hidden in pickup trucks and vans. The criminals can take in $1,000 or more a day reselling the stolen fuel at construction sites, to truckers or to unscrupulous gas stations.


Study says Trump moves trigger health premium jumps for 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trump administration moves are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many people. That's according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The report says mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty "far outside the norm" and led insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case. Premiums are going up 10 percent or more in 15 of 21 major metropolitan areas studied.


Snapchat's not-growing pains are a boom for Instagram

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's Instagram Stories, a clear Snapchat clone, has more daily users than Snapchat itself — and Snap Inc. should be very worried. Both companies' Stories feature lets people share videos and snapshots in a continuous 24-hour loop. It has proven to be a hit at Instagram, such that daily use of that feature is more than all of Snapchat. Snap's latest earnings report isn't helping, as the company says second-quarter growth was a paltry 4 percent.


Clipped: Foreign funds that 'hedge' against currencies lag

NEW YORK (AP) — Foreign-stock funds that protect investors by 'hedging' against swings in currencies were supposed to be big winners this year, if expectations that the dollar would keep rising proved true. That hasn't happened.


Trump administration urged to avoid salmon protection rules

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A group that represents farmers says saving imperiled salmon in the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest is too costly and is turning to the Trump administration. The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association wants the government to convene a Cabinet-level committee known as the "God Squad" with the power to allow exemptions to the Endangered Species Act. It sees hope in a series of pro-industry environmental decisions by President Donald Trump.


Blue Apron revenue beats forecast, but hurt by plant delays

NEW YORK (AP) — Blue Apron has reported strong second-quarter revenue growth, but the meal-kit seller is having unexpected delays at a new plant. It also provided a weak revenue forecast for the second half of the year. The company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.


Facebook steps up video ambitions with Watch

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is launching a new section dedicated to live and recorded video. The idea is to have fans commenting and interacting with the videos. The new Watch section is a potential threat to Twitter, YouTube, Netflix and other services for watching video.


Politicians blocking people on social media ignites debate

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Politicians at all levels are embracing social media to discuss government business, and their ability to block people from their accounts has led to debate about whether that violates free speech rights. The American Civil Liberties Union sent warning letters to Utah's congressional delegation and sued the governor of Maine this week. Others, including President Donald Trump, have been targeted, and many of them say they only block people who post abusive content.


The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 35.81 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,438.21. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 204.69 points, or 0.9 percent, to 21,844.01, just shy of its low point for the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite bore the brunt of the sell-off, losing 135.46 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216.87.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 97 cents, or 2 percent, to $48.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 80 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $51.90. Wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon, while heating oil shed 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 10 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $2.99 per 1,000 cubic feet.