Business Highlights

By The Associated Press Markets Associated Press

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Jobless rate raises question: How much better can it get?

WASHINGTON (AP) — A drop in the unemployment rate to a 16-year low raises a tantalizing question about the job market: How much better can it get? Earlier this year, economists worried that businesses would struggle to find the workers they need. But Friday's jobs report from the Labor Department suggests such concerns are premature. Employers added 209,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent, matching a 16-year low.

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The US may not be the trade wimp Trump makes it out to be

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration sees trade deficits as a sign of economic weakness. Most economists say things are more complicated.

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US trade deficit narrowed to $43.6 billion in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in June as exports posted the biggest increase in 2 ½ years. The Commerce Department says the trade gap slid 5.9 percent in June to $43.6 billion.

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Employer-based health coverage likely to stay awhile

WASHINGTON (AP) — If you are like roughly half of Americans who get their health insurance through an employer, relax. The turmoil around "Obamacare" all but guarantees you'll still be able to do that. The reasons? Unemployment is low, skilled workers are hard to find, and people expect employers to provide health care.

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Convicted 'Pharma Bro' has an image problem, lawyer concedes

NEW YORK (AP) — The eccentric former pharmaceutical CEO notorious for a price-gouging scandal and for his snide "Pharma Bro" persona on social media has been convicted on federal charges he deceived investors in a pair of failed hedge funds. A Brooklyn jury deliberated five days before finding Martin Shkreli guilty on Friday of three of eight counts. Skhreli's lawyer acknowledged that his client has an image issue they would be working on.

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Another strong month of hiring sends stock indexes higher

NEW YORK (AP) — US stocks rise, led by gains in banks, after the government reported another strong month of hiring in July. Technology companies also rose more than the rest of the market. Weight Watchers jumped after raising its forecast while Viacom plunged.

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Toyota, Mazda plan $1.6 billion US plant, to partner in EVs

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda plan to invest $1.6 billion and jointly build an auto manufacturing plant in the U.S., a move that will create up to 4,000 jobs. The companies will partner on auto technologies such as electric cars, safety and connected vehicles.

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VW executive pleads guilty in emissions scandal

DETROIT (AP) — A German Volkswagen executive has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges in Detroit in a scheme to cheat emission rules on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles. Shackled at the wrists and ankles and wearing red prison garb, Oliver Schmidt appeared before U.S. District Judge Sean Cox on Friday as part of the U.S. government's case involving the automaker.

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British hacker's US arrest worries IT security community

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The arrest of a young British cybersecurity researcher has sown major concerns among information-security specialists, leading some to warn it could create a climate of distrust between the U.S. government and the computer experts needed to help fight off future cyberattacks. Marcus Hutchins was arrested in Las Vegas Wednesday for allegedly creating and selling malicious software able to collect bank account passwords. Many in the security community rallied behind the 22-year-old British hacker.

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Mexican court forbids imports of US potatoes

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican federal court has made an unusual ruling that bans the import of U.S. potatoes on the grounds the imports violate Mexicans' right to food sovereignty and a healthy environment. A group of Mexican potato growers had sought a constitutional injunction on the imports, claiming they threaten to spread agricultural diseases.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 4.67 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,476.83. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.71 points, or 0.3 percent, to 22,092.81. The Nasdaq composite climbed 11.22 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,351.56.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 55 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $49.58 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, added 41 cents to $52.42 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.65 a gallon. Heating oil gained 1 cent to $1.65 a gallon. Natural gas lost 3 cents to $2.77 per 1,000 cubic feet