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AP Business SummaryBrief at 11:56 p.m. EDT

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China blocks some Taiwan imports but avoids chip disruptions

BEIJING (AP) — China has blocked imports of citrus, fish and other foods from Taiwan in retaliation for a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but avoided disrupting one of the world’s most important technology and manufacturing relationships. Sanctions on Taiwanese processor chips for Chinese assemblers of smartphones and other electronics could send shockwaves through the global economy. Beijing has announced military exercises including artillery fire in waters near Taiwan following Pelosi's arrival in Taipei. That might delay or disrupt shipping. The potential disruption to trade and manufacturing adds to concerns that global economic growth might be weakening. Asian stock markets rose after there was no immediate sign of Chinese military action.

Inflation weighs on back-to-school buying for many families

NEW YORK (AP) — This back-to-school shopping season, parents are focusing on the basics while also trading down to cheaper stores as surging inflation takes a toll on their household budgets. That is particularly true for parents in the low to middle income bracket. Last week, Walmart noted higher prices on gas and food are forcing shoppers to make fewer purchases of discretionary items, particularly clothing. Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain, cited that inflation has dampened consumer spending on gadgets. Such financial struggles amid the industry’s second-most important shopping season behind the winter holidays mark a big difference from a year ago when many low-income shoppers, flush with government stimulus and buoyed by wage increases, spent freely.

OPEC+ boosts oil output by slower pace than previous months

The OPEC oil cartel and its allies have decided to boost production in September by a much slower pace than in previous months. The move Wednesday comes amid high gasoline prices and unstable energy supplies exacerbated by the war Russia is waging on Ukraine. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, and its allies, led by Russia, say they will increase output to 100,000 barrels a day next month after raising it by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August. It comes after U.S. President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month, aiming to improve relations and encourage more oil production from OPEC to draw down high prices at the pump.

US proposes to increase refund protections for air travelers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is proposing tougher rules for when airlines must give passengers refunds for changing their travel plans. The Transportation Department issued a proposal Wednesday that would require refunds if the airline changes a passenger's arrival or departure by several hours, or adds another stop on their itinerary. The proposal comes after the department was flooded with complaints by passengers whose flights were canceled or changed — or who were afraid to fly during the early months of the pandemic. The proposal faces a public-comment period and likely opposition by airlines.

Asian shares rise on optimism on economic data, earnings

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly higher as investors welcome encouraging economic data and quarterly earnings reports from big companies. Benchmarks rose Thursday across the region, including Japan, China, Australia and South Korea. The gains followed a strong rally on Wall Street. Jitters eased over the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan after she left for South Korea and then later Japan, firm U.S. allies for decades. But analysts said some geopolitical risks remain, with China conducting military exercises near the self-ruled island that it claims as its own territory. Investors are also watching U.S. nonfarm payrolls for indications on hiring.

GOP targets for Dem bill: Inflation, taxes, Manchin, Sinema

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans see inflation, taxes and immigration as Democratic weak spots worth attacking in the upcoming battle over an economic package the Democrats want to push through the Senate. They're also targeting two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The measure embodies some of the top environment, health care and tax policy aspirations that President Joe Biden and party leaders want to enact as voters start tuning in to this fall’s congressional elections. The GOP would like to derail or weaken the measure or, at the very least force Democrats to take votes that would be painful to defend in reelection campaigns.

New crypto oversight legislation arrives as industry shakes

WASHINGTON (AP) — After 13 years, at least three crashes, dozens of scams and Ponzi schemes and hundreds of billions of dollars made and evaporated, cryptocurrencies finally have the full attention of Congress. Lawmakers and lobbyists have papered Capitol Hill with proposals on how to regulate the industry. A proposal Wednesday from Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas would hand the regulatory authority over Bitcoin and Ether to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Bills proposed by other members of Congress and consumer advocates have suggested giving the authority to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

German leader says gas pipeline part is ready for Russia

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has inspected a turbine at the center of a natural gas dispute and declared Wednesday that “there are no problems” blocking the part’s return to Russia besides missing information from Russia’s state-controlled gas company. The Kremlin insisted on Wednesday that more assurances are needed. Russian energy giant Gazprom last week halved the amount of natural gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, the latest of several reductions that it blamed on delays to the turbine’s delivery after sanctions were imposed on Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Machinists at 3 Boeing defense plants ratify new contract

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Workers in three Boeing factories in the Midwest have a new contract, and Boeing is averting the threat of a strike. Nearly 2,500 workers at the plants make military planes and other defense products. They voted Wednesday to ratify a contract that will boost pay an average of 14% over three years and improve retirement benefits. Less than two weeks ago, the same workers overwhelmingly rejected a Boeing contract offer and threatened to go on strike. A spokesman for Boeing says the company is pleased with the outcome. The new contract covers workers at Boeing plants in Missouri and Illinois.

Inspectors OK 1st Ukraine grain ship but no sign yet of more

ISTANBUL (AP) — The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal has passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading on to Lebanon. Ukraine says 17 other vessels at its ports are loaded with grain and waiting permission to leave. There was no word yet, however, on when they could depart. Authorities said a joint civilian inspection team spent three hours Wednesday checking the cargo and crew on the ship Razoni. The wartime deal aimed to ease food security around the globe by creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea.

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Official cross-border trade between Venezuela and Colombia has been nearly shut off since 2015, when Venezuela's socialist president closed crossings after years of deteriorating relations with Colombia's conservative administrations. Now, leftist Gustavo Petro is being inaugurated as Colombia’s president Sunday promising to normalize relations with Venezuela, and optimism is rising along the border that the crossings will begin reopening. Still, business owners and residents know meaningful vehicular activity will not resume overnight. Venezuela’s economic woes have only worsened since border commerce was shut down. Roads and bridges on the Venezuelan side are in disrepair. Venezuelan truckers lack needed permits. And their counterparts in Colombia want safety guarantees.

The parents of a 9-year-old child who died skiing at Mt. Bachelor ski area in Oregon last year have filed a $49 million wrongful death lawsuit against the resort and its parent company, Powdr Corp. The Bulletin reports Angela and Brian Boice of Tacoma, Washington, filed the lawsuit this month over the death of Brecken, who slid down a ski run and crashed into rocks. The suit alleges the day Brecken died conditions were extremely icy and that chairlift shouldn't have been open. Mt. Bachelor President John McLeod said everyone at the resort continues to convey their deepest condolences to Brecken's family and that they can't comment on specifics because of the litigation.

Republican politicians and candidates are distorting how a major economic bill working its way through Congress would overhaul the IRS and affect taxes for the middle class. The Inflation Reduction Act, which awaits a House vote after passing in the Senate on Sunday, would increase the ranks of the IRS. But it wouldn’t create a mob of armed auditors looking to harass middle-class taxpayers, as some Republicans are claiming. And while experts say corporate tax increases could indirectly burden people in the middle class, any claims that they’ll face higher taxes aren't supported by what’s in the legislation.

The estimated $740 billion economic package from Democrats is nowhere near what President Joe Biden first envisioned with his effort to rebuild America’s public infrastructure and family support systems. The Senate has approved the slimmer but still substantial compromise package, and it heads next to the House. It's made up of health care, climate change and deficit-reduction strategies, in hopes of tackling inflation and making the most sizable investment ever in fighting global warming. A major component is capping out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors in the Medicare program at $2,000 a year. It also applies $300 billion federal deficit reduction.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers have held inconclusive talks with energy companies amid mounting pressure to help people cope with soaring gas and electricity prices. Johnson, who is in his final weeks as prime minister, joined his Treasury chief at the meeting with firms including Scottish Power, EDF and Centrica. But Johnson says big decisions must be left to his successor — who will be named on Sept. 5 — and the talks Thursday produced no new announcements. The average U.K. household fuel bill has risen more than 50% this year amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Another energy price increase for British consumers is due in October that could take bills over 3,500 pounds ($4,300) a year.

Stocks are closing lower on Wall Street as disappointing earnings reports weighed on technology and travel companies. The S&P 500 fell 0.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also slipped Tuesday afternoon. Chipmaker Micron Technology fell after warning investors that revenue could fall short of forecasts because of weakening demand. Norwegian Cruise Line plunged after reporting disappointing financial results and giving investors a weak revenue forecast. Two reports on prices due later this week could signal to investors whether the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes this year have brought inflation under control.

A new philanthropic project hopes to invest $100 million in up to 10 countries mostly in Africa by 2030 to support up to 200,000 community health workers. These workers serve as a critical bridge to treatment for people with limited access to medical care. The Skoll Foundation and The Johnson & Johnson Foundation announced Monday that they donated $25 million to the initiative. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria will oversee the project.

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