Business Briefs – September 3, 2017

Gasoline Prices Head Higher While Motorists Panic

DALLAS (AP) – The spike in gasoline prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has hit the accelerator.

The national average for regular was $2.56 a gallon by late Friday afternoon, an increase of 20 cents in the last week, according to GasBuddy.

Prices jumped at least 10 cents a gallon in 24 hours in Texas, Ohio, Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic states, travel club AAA reported.

The nationwide average was already higher than most experts had given as a worst-case scenario when flooding from the devastating storm began knocking out refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast a week ago.

Two of the leading price-forecasting analysts, GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan and Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, now see the national average peaking as high as $2.75 a gallon in the next few days.

Many stations in the Dallas area were out of gas Friday, and those that had it were often charging more than $3 a gallon — and drawing long lines of desperate drivers.

The analysts said interruptions in supply were isolated and lines were largely the result of people rushing out to top off their tanks.

U.S. Job Growth Slowed in August But Economy Still Looks Solid

WASHINGTON (AP) – Taken as a whole, Friday’s jobs report pointed to an economy that is still steadily generating jobs, though at a less brisk pace than it did earlier in the recovery from the recession. With fewer people looking for work, fewer jobs are being filled.

U.S. Auto Sales Down in August As Harvey Hurts Demand

DETROIT (AP) – Hurricane Harvey took a toll on U.S. auto sales in August, but the storm could boost sales this fall as people replace flooded vehicles. U.S. sales of new cars and trucks fell 2 percent last month, according to Autodata Corp. Forecasting firm LMC Automotive says Harvey hurt demand in the Houston area — the ninth-largest vehicle market in the nation — cutting U.S. sales of new cars and trucks by an estimated 20,000 vehicles.

General Motors said its sales improved in August, and it gained 82 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $37.36. Car sales declined overall, partly because Hurricane Harvey slowed car buying in Houston. But investors expect that will help sales in the months to come. Ford picked up 32 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $11.35. Fiat Chrysler gained 73 cents, or 7.2 percent, to $61.68.

GOP Ability to Dismantle Health Law Expires at Month’s End

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Republicans’ ability to dismantle Barack Obama’s health care law with just 51 votes expires at the end of the month. That’s the word from Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a member of the Budget Committee. Sanders said Friday the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that a special filibuster-proof process for repealing the 2010 law expires Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ends.

Honda Owners Could Get Up to $500 in Air Bag Settlement

DETROIT (AP) – Honda and some of the people suing the company over faulty Takata air bag inflators have agreed to a $605 million settlement. The settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge, covers owners of 16.5 million Honda and Acura vehicles with the inflators dating back to 2001. Owners could get up to $500.

Brexit: EU Says No UK Trade Talks Without Progress on Budget

BERLIN (AP) – The European Union’s budget chief says there can be no negotiations with Britain about a post-Brexit trade deal unless the two sides make progress on “fundamental questions” including future payments to Brussels.

Guenther Oettinger says the future rights of EU citizens in Britain and the status of the U.K. border with Ireland also need to advance before trade talks can begin. The bloc is Britain’s biggest trading partner.

Oettinger told German weekly Welt am Sonntag that Britain agreed in 2013 to contribute to the EU budget until the end of 2020. In an interview published Saturday, he was quoted as saying that London is due to make further payments until 2023.

Britain’s government said this week that it wouldn’t pay into the EU’s budget after Brexit, slated for March 2019.