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August 01, 2013 01:39 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks continue to move higher on Wall Street on a day that's seen the Standard & Poor's 500 index climb above 1,700 points for the first time. Investors are encouraged by higher earnings from some big-name companies along with better news on jobs, manufacturing and auto sales.

  • General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are all reporting double-digit sales gains last month compared with the previous July. Honda led the way with a 21 percent increase. Toyota and GM both saw sales rise around 16 percent. Chrysler, Nissan and Ford all reported 11 percent gains. Only Volkswagen had a down month. Its sales were off 3.3 percent as the top-selling Jetta compact faltered.
  • Average rates on fixed mortgages have ticked up this week but are still low by historical standards. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average on the 30-year loan rose to 4.39 percent from 4.31 percent last week. Rates are a full percentage point higher than in early May. The average on the 15-year fixed loan increased to 3.43 percent from 3.39 percent last week.
  • Creditors have overwhelmingly approved the bankruptcy reorganization plan for American Airlines parent AMR Corp., which includes a merger with US Airways. AMR says at least 88 percent of the ballots cast by creditors favored the turnaround plan. It says AMR shareholders backed the plan even more strongly, with more than 99 percent approving. The plan still needs approval from a federal bankruptcy judge. Antitrust regulators in the Justice Department are also reviewing the merger with US Airways.
  • For the first time, the three largest U.S.-based cruise lines are posting on their websites more comprehensive data about allegations of serious crimes committed aboard ships. The move by Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line comes amid growing pressure from Congress and victims groups for greater accuracy about crime at sea. Previously only U.S. Coast Guard figures were available for serious crimes that had been investigated by the FBI.
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