Business Highlights


Regulators expand protections to prepaid debit card users

NEW YORK (AP) " Federal regulators announced new rules Wednesday governing the quickly growing prepaid debit card industry, an effort more than two years in the making which should bring basic account protections to its customers, who are often financially disadvantaged.

Prepaid debit card issuers will have to provide their users with basic account information like balances and transaction history free of charge to customers. Protections for lost or stolen cards will also be expanded to prepaid debit cards. Fees for the cards will have to be more clearly disclosed on the packaging.


Survey: US businesses add fewest jobs in 5 months

WASHINGTON (AP) " U.S. businesses added 154,000 jobs in September, the slowest pace of hiring since April, a private survey found.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that manufacturers cut jobs for the eighth straight month and professional and business services, which includes high-paying jobs such as accountants and engineers, added the fewest jobs in five months.

The modest job gain adds to other recent evidence that hiring is slowing after several years of strong increases. Businesses added 175,000 jobs in August, ADP's report said, and 196,000 in July.


US trade deficit in August rises 3 percent to $40.7 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) " The U.S. trade deficit rose in August as a flood of imports offset the best showing for exports in 13 months. The politically sensitive deficit with China rose to the highest level in 11 months.

The trade deficit increased 3 percent to $40.7 billion, up from a gap of $39.5 billion in July, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Imports jumped 1.2 percent to $228.6 billion, reflecting big increases in shipments of foreign oil, autos and commercial aircraft. Exports were up 0.8 percent to $187.9 billion, the fourth straight monthly increase and the highest level in 13 months.


Yahoo doesn't deny email scanning, calls story 'misleading'

NEW YORK (AP) " Yahoo responded again Wednesday to a report that it scanned incoming email to hundreds of millions of accounts for the U.S. government.

In a carefully worded statement that stops short of a denial, the company said a Tuesday Reuters report is "misleading," saying that "the mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems."

Reuters reported that Yahoo built custom software for the scans. Yahoo's latest statement does not say whether it has conducted such email scans in the past, or whether that software might exist outside its systems.


Travelers in US change plans ahead of Hurricane Matthew

NEW YORK (AP) " Travelers along the East Coast are preparing for delays and cancelations as Hurricane Matthew heads toward the U.S.

Airlines are preparing to suspend flights from Florida up through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, depending on where the hurricane strikes. Cruise lines are shuffling ship itineraries and many frantic vacationers are looking at insurance policies to see if they are covered.

Most airlines are letting fliers change to a later flight without penalty. In some cases, the passenger would have to cover a difference in fare.

As for hotels, most rooms can be canceled without penalty up to 24 hours in advance. Car rentals typically don't have any cancellation penalties

Cruise lines aren't canceling sailings but are re-routing many ships to avoid the storm.


Labor group names McDonald's in sexual harassment claims

NEW YORK (AP) " Labor organizers say they've named McDonald's and its franchisees in allegations of sexual harassment, marking their latest effort in a push to win higher pay and a union for fast-food workers.

The claims were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission on behalf of 15 workers who are part of the Fight of $15 campaign, organizers said Wednesday. They allege behavior such as a manager rubbing up against and grabbing female employees. The claims name McDonald's Corp. as well its franchisees, reflecting the push by labor organizers to build the legal case that the company should be held responsible for working conditions at franchised restaurants.


US services companies report fastest growth in nearly year

WASHINGTON (AP) " U.S. services companies grew last month at the fastest pace in nearly a year, potential good news for the U.S. economy.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its services index jumped to 57.1 in September, the highest point since October, from August's 51.4, the lowest since 2010. It was the biggest monthly gain since the index was introduced in 2008. Any reading above 50 signals growth.

New orders, production and export orders all grew faster last month, and hiring by services companies was the strongest since October.


US factory orders ticked up in August

WASHINGTON (AP) " Orders to U.S. factories edged higher in August, with a key category that tracks business investment plan rising for a third straight month.

Factory orders increased 0.2 percent in August after a much larger 1.4 percent gain in July, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. However, the overall figure was heavily influenced by a swing in the volatile commercial aircraft category, which had jumped 72.9 percent in July but declined 22.7 percent in August.


Banks, energy companies lead stock market higher

NEW YORK (AP) " The stock market broke two days of losses on Wednesday with solid gains as investors piled into shares of banks and energy companies.

Stocks jumped from the start on a rise in the price of crude oil, with banks joining the rally after a strong report on the service sector suggested the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates soon. Banks can benefit when rates rise because it allows them to charge more for their loans.


Yum shares fall after sales miss expectations

NEW YORK (AP) " Shares of the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fell Wednesday after it reported a quarterly profit and sales that missed Wall Street expectations.

Its Pizza Hut division saw a 1 percent decline in sales at established locations, while the figure rose 4 percent for KFC. The figure rose 3 percent for the Taco Bell division.

Yum Brands earned $622 million, or $1.56 per share, for the quarter. Adjusted earnings were $1.09 per share, a penny less than analysts expected, according to FactSet. Total sales were $3.32 billion, also short of market expectations.


Mall of America to close for Thanksgiving

NEW YORK (AP) " Mall of America, the nation's largest shopping mall anchored by Macy's, H&M and others, has taken a stand against the growing trend of Thanksgiving shopping and will be closed on the turkey feast this year.

The center, based in Bloomington, Minnesota, has been open on Thanksgiving since 2012. But mall officials told The Associated Press it wants to offer workers time with their families.

The mall will re-open at 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving.


The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 112.58 points, or 0.6 percent, to 18,281.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 9.24 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,159.73. The Nasdaq composite rose 26.36 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,316.02.

U.S. benchmark crude rose $1.14, or 2.3 percent, to end at $49.83 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 99 cents, or 1.9 percent, to close at $51.86 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline slipped 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon, heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.58 a gallon and natural gas rose 8 cents to $3.041 per 1,000 cubic feet.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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