Summer travel, car sales plummet

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Summer travel is underway around the world, but a full recovery after two years of coronavirus could last as long as the pandemic itself. Associated Press interviews in 11 countries this month show that the most avid travelers are flocking to places like the French Riviera, Amsterdam and the American Midwest. But even if security restrictions fall, places like Israel, India and Rome are reporting only a fraction of 2019’s record tourism. For them, a full recovery is not expected until at least 2024. China, once the world’s largest source of tourists, remains closed in accordance with its “zero-COVID” policy. This is holding back the rebound in many countries.

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Pre-pandemic sized crowds descend on US airports for the holidays

DALLAS (AP) — The fireworks are still a few days away, but travel for the Fourth of July weekend is kicking off in full swing. The Transportation Security Administration said Friday it screened more people on Thursday than it did on the same day in 2019, before the pandemic. So far, travelers appear to be experiencing fewer delays and canceled flights than earlier this week. But it is still early. Leisure travel has rebounded this year, offsetting weakness in business travel and international flights. Still, the total number of people flying hasn’t quite recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

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Chip shortage continues to drive up auto prices, reducing sales

DETROIT (AP) — New vehicle sales in the United States fell more than 21% in the second quarter from a year ago as the global shortage of semiconductors continued to cause production problems at the industry. Yet demand continued to outstrip supply from April through June, even with $5 a gallon of gas, high inflation and rising interest rates. Weak supply has driven prices to record highs, pushing many consumers out of the new-vehicle market. Edmunds.com said automakers sold 3.49 million vehicles in the quarter, down nearly 933,000 from the same time last year. JD Power estimates that the average selling price of a new vehicle for the first six months of the year reached nearly $45,000, a record 17.5% higher than a year ago.

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Kohl’s sale plummets in fragile retail environment

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The potential sale of department store chain Kohl’s has collapsed in a precarious retail environment characterized by rising inflation and consumer anxiety. Kohl’s entered exclusive talks earlier this month with Franchise Group, which owns the Vitamin Shop and other outlets, for a deal potentially worth around $8 billion. On Friday, Kohl Chairman Pete Boneparth cited market volatility and growing customer economic anxiety as reasons. It was the second time this week that a major retailer pulled out of a potential sale due to deteriorating economic conditions. Walgreen’s said on Thursday it was giving up hopes of selling its Boots business in the UK.

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Wall Street closes higher but still ends the week in the red

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off an early morning plunge and ended higher on Friday, but not enough to erase their losses for the week. It was the fourth losing week in the last five for Wall Street. The latest choppy trading comes as investors worry about high inflation and the possibility that higher interest rates could trigger a recession. The S&P 500 rose 1.1%. The benchmark is coming off its worst quarter since the pandemic began in early 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% and the Nasdaq 0.9%. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.89%.

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Inflation reaches a record 8.6% for 19 countries using the euro

LONDON (AP) — Inflation in countries using the euro has set another stunning record, pushed higher by a huge rise in energy costs fueled in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Annual inflation in the 19 eurozone countries reached 8.6% in June, surpassing the 8.1% recorded in May. That’s according to the latest figures released Friday by the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat. Inflation is at its highest level since the euro began recording in 1997. Energy prices soared 41.9% and food prices rose 8.9%, both faster than the increases recorded the previous month. Rising consumer prices are a global problem, with the United States and Britain experiencing inflation at its highest level in 40 years.

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Russia takes control of an energy project partly owned by foreigners

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed over full control of a major oil and gas project partly owned by Shell and two Japanese companies to a newly created Russian company. It’s a bold move amid growing tensions with the West over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. Putin’s executive order last Thursday orders the creation of a new company that would take over ownership of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. It is nearly 50% controlled by British energy giant Shell and Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi. Russia’s Gazprom held a majority stake in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, which accounts for around 4% of the global liquefied natural gas market. Japan, South Korea and China are its main export customers.

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The EU is preparing an emergency plan to do without Russian energy

PRAGUE (AP) — The European Union’s executive has pledged to draw up a contingency plan to help member countries get off Russian energy in the wake of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the initiative would build on EU moves to ditch Russian coal, oil and natural gas and complement a world-wide push. bloc to accelerate the development of renewable energies such as wind and solar power. Von der Leyen spoke in the Czech town of Litomysl on Friday, where she marked the start of the country’s six-month term as holder of the rotating EU presidency.

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The S&P 500 rose 39.95 points, or 1.1%, to 3,825.33. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 321.83 points, or 1%, to 31,097.26. The Nasdaq added 99.11 points, or 0.9%, to 11,127.85. The Russell 2000 Small Business Index finished up 19.77 points, or 1.2%, at 1,727.76.

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