Global Glance: U.S. home construction surges, ‘Pokemon Go’ doubles Nintendo stock

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

U.S. home construction posted solid gain in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Construction of new homes posted a solid increase in June, led by a surge of building in the Northeast and the West. The Commerce Department says housing starts rose 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.19 million from 1.14 million in May. That was the highest level since February. Construction of single-family homes rose 4.4 percent to 778,000. Home construction jumped 46.3 percent in the Northeast and 17.4 percent in the West. Read more


‘Pokemon Go’ more than doubles Nintendo’s stock price

TOKYO (AP) — For Nintendo, “Pokemon Go” just keeps on giving. Shares in the Japanese game maker closed up 14 percent at $300 on the Tokyo Stock exchange Tuesday and have more than doubled in value since the wildly popular augmented-reality game was launched on July 6. Nintendo accounted for nearly one in four shares that changed hands on the TSE’s main board. The sharp rise has doubled the Kyoto-based company’s market capitalization to $42.4 billion. Read more


UnitedHealth’s profit surges, yet Affordable Care Act drags

UnitedHealth’s second-quarter earnings jumped 11 percent to trump expectations even though the nation’s largest health insurer took a bigger hit than expected from coverage linked to the Affordable Care Act. The Minnetonka, Minnesota, company said Tuesday that losses from its ACA-compliant individual business came in $200 million above projections, which means the company now expects to lose around $850 million this year from what is essentially a small slice of its total operation. That hit contributed to a drop in operating earnings for the insurer’s largest business segment, UnitedHealthcare, which sells individual and employer-sponsored benefits. Read more


Netflix facing tougher times as U.S. subscriber growth slows

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After years of spectacular success, Netflix is starting to hit some potholes. The high-flying internet video service added only 160,000 U.S. subscribers from April through June, its lowest gain in the period since splitting up its video-streaming and DVD-by-mail services five years ago. In addition to the U.S. slowdown, Netflix is wrestling with an ambitious international expansion amid stiffening competition, challenges that came into sharper focus Monday with the release of its second-quarter earnings. CEO Reed Hastings blamed the disappointing performance on cancellations by subscribers facing price increases of as much as $2 per month, following the expiration of a two-year rate freeze. Read more


Plans for self-driving cars have pitfall: the human brain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Experts say the development of self-driving cars over the coming decade depends on an unreliable assumption by many automakers: that the humans in them will be ready to step in and take control if the car’s systems fail.

Instead, experience with automation in other modes of transportation like aviation and rail suggests that the strategy will lead to more deaths like that of a Florida Tesla driver in May.

Decades of research shows that people have a difficult time keeping their minds on boring tasks like monitoring systems that rarely fail and hardly ever require them to take action. The human brain continually seeks stimulation. If the mind isn’t engaged, it will wander until it finds something more interesting to think about. The more reliable the system, the more likely it is that attention will wane. Read more


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