Business Briefs – July 7, 2016

Average U.S. 30-Year Mortgage Rate Falls to New 2016 Lows

WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest level since May 2013, driven down by financial tumult in Europe. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.41 percent from 3.48 percent a week ago. The 15-year mortgage rate dropped to 2.74 percent, down from 2.78 percent last week.

U.S. Gives Tentative OK to Flights To Cuba From 10 U.S. Cities

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government on Thursday tentatively approved scheduled commercial airline service to Havana from 10 American cities, further bridging the gulf between countries as close as an hour flight but long kept at a greater distance by the Cold War. Eight U.S. airlines are expected to begin round-trip service as early as this fall, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

 Forecast for Stocks in Second Half of Year: Turbulence

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market has been on a frustrating, dizzying roller-coaster ride to nowhere the last couple of years. And it’s still not over.

Stock strategists and mutual-fund managers are predicting minimal gains and big swings in price for the second half of the year. That’s because many of the same challenges that yanked investments up and down in the first half are still hanging over the market, including falling profits at companies and the stubbornly slow global economy.

Wal-Mart in China Faces Employee Protests

BEIJING (AP) — Wal-Mart faces protests by employees in China over what they say is a drastic change in work schedules as the company overhauls its struggling business.

Its labor tensions reflect rising expectations among workers to share in China’s prosperity and a shift by the ruling Communist Party away from treating them only as a source of labor toward trying to create a consumer society.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has had slow and uneven growth since its first China outlet opened in 1996. It tried to expand into online retailing but sold its operation last month to China’s No. 2 e-commerce operator.

 PepsiCo Touts Items Seen As ‘Craft’ as Profit Tops Forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) — PepsiCo Inc., the packaged food giant that makes Mountain Dew soda and Frito-Lay chips, posted a quarterly profit Thursday that topped Wall Street expectations and touted new products that it said respond to growing interest in “craft” and “premium” options.

That includes the introduction of 1893, a craft cola named for the year Pepsi was invented, as well as Mountain Dew Black Label, which is marketed as being made with “real sugar” and “herbal bitters.”

The company said it is now getting 9 percent of its revenue from new products.