Jun 28, 5:52 PM EDT

Business Highlights


How artificial intelligence is taking on ransomware

NEW YORK (AP) - Twice in the space of six weeks, the world has suffered major attacks of ransomware - malicious software that locks up photos and other files stored on your computer, then demands money to release them. It's clear that the world needs better defenses, and fortunately those are starting to emerge, if slowly and in patchwork fashion. When they arrive, we may have artificial intelligence to thank.


Companies, governments assess damage from latest malware

PARIS (AP) - Companies and governments around the world are counting the cost of a software epidemic that has disrupted ports, hospitals, banks and factories. Ukraine, which was hardest hit and where the cyberattack likely originated, says it has secured critical state assets - though everyday life remained affected, with cash machines out of order. At the very least, cybersecurity firms say thousands of computers worldwide have been struck.


US demands more security on international flights to US

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Homeland Security Department is demanding that airlines around the world step up security measures for international flights bound for the U.S. or face the possibility of a total electronics ban for planes. Compliance with the new rules could lead to the lifting of a ban on laptops and other large electronics already in place for airlines flying to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa.


Office supplies chain Staples sold for $6.9 billion

NEW YORK (AP) - Private equity firm Sycamore is buying office supplies chain Staples for $6.9 billion. The companies said Wednesday that shareholders of Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples will get $10.25 per share. Reports of deal talks emerged in early April, less than a year after Staples dropped a $6.3 billion merger with rival Office Depot because antitrust regulators opposed it.


Fed approves dividend, buyback plans of all 34 biggest banks

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve has given the green light to all 34 of the biggest banks in the U.S. to raise their dividends and buy back shares, judging their financial foundations sturdy enough to withstand a major economic downturn. It was the first time in seven years of annual "stress tests" that every bank assessed won approval for its capital plans. The Fed announced results of the second round of its annual stress tests.


ABC, meat producer settle in $1.9B 'pink slime' libel suit

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - ABC and a South Dakota meat producer have settled in a $1.9 billion lawsuit against the network over its reports on a beef product that critics dubbed "pink slime." The terms of the settlement announced Wednesday are confidential. Beef Products Inc. sued the television network in 2012, saying ABC's coverage misled consumers into believing the product is unsafe, is not beef and isn't nutritious.


China frees 3 activists who probed Ivanka Trump supplier

GANZHOU, China (AP) - Three activists who'd been investigating labor conditions at a factory in China when they were detained by Chinese authorities are now free on bond. The factory produced shoes for Ivanka Trump and other brands. The activists were working with China Labor Watch, a New York-based group, which says it's hoping they will get a fair trial. The three had been preparing to publish a report alleging low pay, excessive overtime and other possible abuses.


U.S. stock market makes biggest gain in 2 months

The U.S. stock market notched its biggest gain in two months Wednesday, bouncing back from losses a day earlier. Banks and other financial companies led the rally as investors bet on interest rates climbing further. Technology companies were among the big gainers, recouping some of their recent losses. Energy stocks also rose as the price of crude oil closed higher for the fifth straight day. Utilities and real estate companies were the only laggards.


GOP touts lower premiums, but other insurance costs to rise

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans are touting lower premiums under their health care legislation, but that reflects insurance that would cover a smaller share of the cost of medical bills. The fine print is getting overlooked. Consumers might pay less up front every month, but if you break a bone or get hospitalized for a serious illness, odds are you'd be on the hook for a bigger share of the bill. Premiums under the Senate bill would average about 30 percent lower in a few years. Deductibles would be much higher.


Prosecutors settle Panda Express discrimination claim

WASHINGTON (AP) - Panda Express reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations the company discriminated against workers who were not U.S. citizens, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Under the settlement, Panda Express will pay a $400,000 penalty to the U.S. government and establish a $200,000 fund to compensate workers who lost wages due to the chain's practices. Panda Express said in a statement it did not discriminate and settled the investigation to focus on supporting its staff.


Blue Apron slices share price range, hinting at tough market

NEW YORK (AP) - Blue Apron, the meal-kit delivery company, is slashing the price it expects to sell its shares in an initial public offering, a sign that the company may be having trouble attracting investors. The price chop Wednesday comes as competition to deliver groceries heats up. E-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. is expected to shake up the industry after announcing plans to buy organic grocer Whole Foods earlier this month.


The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 21.31 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,440.69. The Dow Jones industrial average added 143.95 points, or 0.7 percent, to 21,454.61. The Nasdaq composite rose 87.79 points, or 1.4 percent, to 6,234.41.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 50 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $44.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 66 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $47.31 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.48 per gallon. Heating oil also added 2 cents to $1.43 per gallon. Natural gas gained 3 cents to $3.07 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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