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Business Highlights

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COVID-19 reshapes and reduces back-to-school spending

NEW YORK – As the pandemic drags into the new school year, it is upending the back-to-school shopping season. That´s the second most important period for retailers behind the holidays. Parents are buying less dressy clothing and more basics for their kids, while stepping up purchases of masks and other protective equipment as well as electronics. They´re also holding back on spending amid uncertainty about what the school year will look like. The National Retail Federation is pinning its hopes on parents who splurge on pricey items like computers to help children learn from home. But others foresee a weak season for retailers.

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Ford COO Jim Farley to lead company, CEO Hackett to retire

DETROIT – Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley will lead the storied automaker into the future starting Oct. 1 when current CEO Jim Hackett retires. The company has struggled in recent years and is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan designed to make it leaner and crank out new vehicles to replace what was an aging model lineup. As COO, the 58-year-old Farley led the company´s global markets and product development. He was in charge as Ford rolled out a revamped F-150 pickup, the new Bronco off-road SUV brand and the electric Mustang Mach-E SUV. Farley was was hired away from Toyota by then-CEO Alan Mulally in November of 2007 to run Ford´s marketing operations.

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Trump´s demand for US cut of a TikTok deal is unprecedented

NEW YORK – President Donald Trump´s demand that the U.S. government get a cut of Microsoft buying TikTok is the latest unprecedented scenario in an unprecedented situation. Microsoft is in talks to buy parts of TikTok, a forced sale after Trump threatened to ban the Chinese-owned video app, which has one hundred million U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally, for national-security concerns. How a ban would have worked was not clear. Experts said there was no legal basis in antitrust law for such a payment. A White House spokesperson sidestepped a question about Trump´s authority Tuesday, and an adviser appeared to walk back the payment demand.

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Stocks tick higher on Wall Street, but Treasury yields sink

NEW YORK – U.S. stock indexes drifted higher Tuesday as Wall Street´s big rally eased off the accelerator. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% after flipping between small gains and losses throughout the day. It´s the mildest move for the index in two weeks. Stock indexes are hanging at or close to their record highs after clawing back all or most of their sell-off from earlier in the year, and the S&P 500 is within 2.4% of its all-time high set in February. But caution is still hanging over markets: Gold rose to another record, while Treasury yields sank as investors sought safety.

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Ex-UAW chief says GM bribery claims are `utterly baseless´

DETROIT – Former United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger is denying claims by General Motors that he took bribes from Fiat Chrysler in order to stick GM with higher labor costs. Gettelfinger called the company´s allegations a “malicious and utterly baseless attack” designed to damage his reputation and cause as much harm as possible to the union. GM made the accusations Monday in court records asking a judge to reconsider dismissal of a lawsuit against rival Fiat Chrysler. GM alleges FCA bribed union officials using foreign bank accounts so they would saddle GM with over $1 billion in higher labor costs.

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Disney 3Q revenue drops 42%, missing expectations

BURBANK, Calif. – Walt Disney Co. has reported that its net income fell dramatically in the three-month period that ended in June. That´s when it most of its theme parks remained closed and theatrical movie releases were postponed. Its bottom-line results, however, were better than analysts expected although Disney´s revenue fell short of forecasts. The entertainment giant has soared to success with the breadth of its media and entertainment offerings. It is now trying to recover as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled many of its businesses. It was hit by several months of its parks and stores being closed, cruise ships idled, movie releases postponed and a halt in film and video production.

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Sony´s profit up as people staying home play video games

TOKYO – Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp. has reported its April-June profit jumped 53% as its video game and other online businesses thrived with people staying home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Tokyo-based Sony said Tuesday that its profit was $2.2 billion in the last quarter. Quarterly sales edged up 2%. Sony has music and movies divisions under its wing and makes digital cameras, TVs and PlayStation 4 consoles, among other devices. Sony warned that its movies division would likely suffer for two or three years due to delays in film projects and limits to theater seating because of the pandemic.

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The S&P 500 rose 11.90 points, or 0.4%, to 3,306.51. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 164.07 points, or 0.6%, to 26,828.47. The Nasdaq composite added 38.37, or 0.4%, to close at 10,941.17. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished up 10.41, or 0.7%, at 1,517.21.

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