Gas prices sting US workers who depend on their cars
DETROIT (AP) — Millions of Americans who rely on their cars for work are changing their habits, signing up for carpools or even ditching their cars for bicycles as gas prices recently hit $5 per gallon for the first time ever. This week, it’s averaging $4.95 per gallon nationwide, up from $3.06 per gallon a year ago, according to AAA. Some help could be on the way. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden asked Congress to suspend federal gas taxes for three months, which would shave 18.4 cents per gallon off the price of gas. He also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes. But in the meantime, gas is straining budgets.
Powell: Fed must convince public it can tame inflation
WASHINGTON (AP) — As if their job weren’t hard enough at a time of raging inflation, Chair Jerome Powell and his Federal Reserve colleagues have to do more these days than decide just how much to raise interest rates without triggering a recession. They also have a sales job on their hands: Convincing the public that they will succeed in reducing inflation — now at 8.6%, a four decade high — to the central bank’s goal of 2% a year. Powell told Congress that Americans do seem reassured, at least for now: Measures of consumer sentiment show that people generally think inflation will eventually subside.
Oil industry says Granholm meeting sends 'positive signal'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Groups representing the oil industry and refiners say a meeting with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was productive and should send a signal to markets that the United States is committed to long-term investments in the oil and refining industry. The meeting Thursday with Granholm and other top officials came as President Joe Biden called on Congress to suspend federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel as a way to relieve high gas prices that have frustrated drivers and spurred inflation. The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, and he delivered a public critique of the energy industry for prioritizing profits over production.
Instagram tests using AI, other tools for age verification
Instagram is testing new ways to verify the age of people using its service, including a face-scanning artificial intelligence tool, having mutual friends verify their age or uploading an ID. Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, said that beginning on Thursday, if someone tries to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, they will be required to verify their age using one of these methods. The use of face-scanning AI, especially on teenagers, raised some alarm bells Thursday, given the checkered history of Instagram parent Meta when it comes to protecting users’ privacy.
Airport chaos: European travel runs into pandemic cutbacks
LONDON (AP) — After two years of pandemic restrictions, travel demand is back, but airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis are struggling to keep up. With the busy summer tourism season underway in Europe, passengers are encountering chaotic scenes at airports, including lengthy delays, canceled flights and headaches over lost luggage. The head of Europe’s biggest airline warned the turmoil would last all summer. Data from aviation consultancy Cirium says that nearly 2,000 flights from major continental European airports were canceled during one week this month. It’s a similar story in the United States, where airlines canceled thousands of flights over two days last week because of bad weather just as crowds of summer tourists grow.
Wall Street shakes off a midday stumble and ends higher
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off a midday slump and ended higher Thursday, keeping the market on track for its first weekly gain after three weeks of punishing losses. Trading was wobbly throughout the day as investors remained focused on another day of testimony before Congress by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. The S&P 500 rose 1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.6% and the Nasdaq rose 1.6%. Powell reaffirmed the central bank's goal of “keeping inflation expectations well and truly anchored” as the Fed tries to rein in surging prices. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, fell to 3.09%.
Toyota recalls electric car for faulty wheel that may detach
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is recalling 2,700 of its bZ4X crossover vehicles globally for wheel bolts that could become loose, in a major setback for the Japanese automaker’s ambitions to roll out electric cars. Toyota says the cause is still under investigation, but the whole wheel could come off, risking a crash. The vehicles subject to the recall include about 2,200 destined for Europe, 270 for North America, 112 for Japan, and 60 for the rest of Asia. They were produced between March and June. The bZ4X is a key model in Toyota’s plans to strengthen its electric lineup.
Fewer Americans file for jobless aid
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the U.S. job market remains robust despite myriad economic pressures, including four-decade high inflation. Applications for jobless aid for the week ending June 18 fell to 229,000, a decline of 2,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. First-time applications generally mirror the number of layoffs. The four-week average for claims rose by 4,500 from the previous week, to 223,500. The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending June 11 was 1,315,000. That figure has hovered near 50-year lows for months.
Average long-term US mortgage rates inch up to 5.81%
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates inched up this week following last week’s mammoth jump, the biggest in 35 years. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year rate ticked up to 5.81% this week, from last week’s 5.78%. Last week’s average was the highest since November of 2008 during the housing crisis. In its ongoing bid to tamp down inflation, the Federal Reserve last week raised its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a point, the biggest single hike since 1994. The Fed’s unusually large rate hike came after government data showed U.S. inflation rose in May to a four-decade high of 8.6%.
FDA bans Juul e-cigarettes tied to teen vaping surge
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators have ordered vaping company Juul to pull its electronic cigarettes from the market. It's the biggest blow yet to the embattled company that is widely blamed for sparking a surge in teen vaping. The announcement Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration is part of a sweeping regulatory review of e-cigarettes, which faced little regulation until recently. Since last fall, the FDA has greenlighted a few e-cigarettes. To stay on the market, manufacturers must show their products help reduce the harm of smoking for adults, without appealing to kids. The FDA said Juul’s application didn’t include enough information to evaluate any potential risks.