AP Business SummaryBrief at 12:59 p.m. EDT

US economy drops at 0.6% annual rate from April through June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Battered by surging consumer prices and rising interest rates, the U.S. economy shrank at a 0.6% annual rate from April through June, the government announced Thursday, unchanged from its previous second-quarter estimate. It marked the second consecutive quarter of economic contraction, one informal rule of thumb for a recession. Most economists, citing a strong and resilient American job market, believe the world’s biggest economy is not yet in a downturn. Consumer spending grew at a 2% annual rate, but that gain was offset by a drop in business inventories and housing investment.

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss has defended her economic plan that roiled financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing. Truss gave her first public comments Thursday since her government last week announced billions in unfunded tax cuts that drove the pound currency to record lows. She says Britain is facing a “very, very difficult” economic situation. But she says the problems are global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the Conservative government’s tax cuts spooked investors.

Germany to spend billions to tackle high energy prices

BERLIN (AP) — Germany plans to spend up to 200 billion euros helping consumers and businesses cope with the surge in energy prices. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that the government is reactivating an economic stabilizing fund previously used during the global financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. Scholz said Russia’s decision to cut back natural gas to Europe and the recent leaks on two pipelines showed further Russian energy supplies couldn’t be expected in the near future. Finance Minister Christian Lindner insisted that the fund would not entail further regular borrowing, saying Germany is “expressly not following Great Britain’s path.”

In one tiny German town, nobody worries about energy bills

FELDHEIM, Germany (AP) — While Europeans watch their energy bills soar as the war in Ukraine drives up the price of natural gas, oil and electricity, the tiny German town of Feldheim has been energy self-sufficient for a decade. The village of 130 build solar panels, wind turbines and other ways to generate its own eco-friendly to keep the lights on and homes warm. It contrasts with Germany’s top-down approach toward ending fossil fuel use and achieving energy independence. Europe’s biggest economy still relies heavily on energy imports and more than half of its gross power production in the first half of this year was from fossil fuels and nuclear.

Pumpkin farms adapt to improve soil, lower emissions

ATLANTA, Illinois (AP) — This Thanksgiving, your pumpkin pie might have a lower carbon footprint. Farmers in central Illinois who supply 85% of the world’s canned pumpkin are adopting regenerative techniques to reduce emissions, attract bees and other pollinators and improve soil health. The effort is backed by Libby’s, which is owned by Nestle. It’s one of several big companies that have started regenerative farming programs in the last few years, including General Mills, PepsiCo and Walmart. Arohi Sharma, who studies regenerative farming for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says companies see drought and other impacts from climate change and know they must act.

Wall Street drops back to lowest since 2020 as fear returns

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are back to falling on Wall Street as worries about a possible recession and rising bond yields put the squeeze back on markets. The S&P 500 was 2.1% lower in midday trading Thursday and dropped to its lowest level since late 2020 earlier in the morning. The washout has the index on track to erase its big rally from a day before. For markets to really turn higher, analysts say investors will need to see a break from the high inflation that’s swept the world. That hasn’t arrived yet, and even more data arrived Thursday showing the opposite.

US long-term mortgage rates up for 6th week; 30-year at 6.7%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week for the sixth straight week, marking new highs not seen in 15 years. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average on the key 30-year rate climbed to 6.70% from 6.29% last week. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular among those looking to refinance their homes, jumped to 5.96% from 5.44% last week.  Rapidly rising mortgage rates threaten to sideline even more homebuyers after more than doubling in 2022. Last year, prospective homebuyers were looking at rates well below 3%.

Fewer people seek US unemployment aid amid solid hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits dropped last week, a sign that few companies are cutting jobs despite high inflation and a weak economy. Applications for unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 24 fell by 16,000 to 193,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s number was revised down by 4,000 to 209,000. First-time applications generally reflect layoffs. The current figures are very low historically and suggest Americans are benefiting from an unusually high level of job security.

Porsche shares rise in one of Europe’s largest market debuts

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Shares in luxury automaker Porsche have risen on their first day of public trading. The maker of the 911 sports car made its market debut Thursday on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Parent company Volkswagen carried out an initial public offering that is one of the largest in European history. Volkswagen reaped more than 9 billion euros for selling the shares to investors. It’s money that the German automaker will need to invest in new technology and software as the global auto industry shifts to electric cars. The IPO is a venture into turbulent markets, as the war in Ukraine, inflation, rising interest rates and an energy crunch have raised fears of recession in major economies.

Ian threatens Florida’s already unstable insurance market

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s property insurance market was already in peril. Now comes Hurricane Ian. The massive storm, barreling into Florida with 150 mph winds, double digit storm surge and drenching rains, is almost certain to further damage the state’s market, which has strained under billion dollar losses, insurer insolvencies and skyrocketing premiums. The scale and scope of the storm’s damage will become more clear in the coming days. But its impact could potentially exacerbate existing problems and burden a state-run insurer that has already seen a sharp increase in policies as homeowners struggle to find coverage in the private market.

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