Global Glance: Aetna slashes ACA participation, UK companies see costs rise

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

Insurer Aetna slashes ACA participation to 4 states

Aetna will become the latest health insurer to chop participation in the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges when it trims its presence to four states for 2017, from 15 this year. The cuts, announced late Monday, come after UnitedHealth and Humana announced their own exchange pull backs for 2017 and after several nonprofit insurance co-ops have shut down. Dwindling exchange participation from insurers is becoming a concern, especially in some rural markets, because competition is supposed to help control insurance price increases, and many carriers have already announced plans to seek price hikes of around 10 percent or more for 2017. Read more

UK companies see costs rise as result of vote to exit EU

LONDON (AP) — The pound’s sharp drop following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is starting to affect companies, particularly manufacturers, by increasing the cost of the imported raw materials and goods they require to do business. Official figures released Tuesday showed that producer prices rose 4.3 percent in the year through July, compared with a 0.5 percent drop in the year through June as the cost of raw materials increased due to the pound’s decline in the wake of the EU referendum. Read more

Google’s Duo app joins crowded field of video calling

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Knock, knock, Google’s video chatting app has arrived. The app, dubbed Duo, represents Google’s response to other popular video calling options, including Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Messenger app. The new app, announced in May, is being released Tuesday as a free service for phones running on Google’s Android operating system as well as Apple’s iPhones. Read more

Buffett’s company adds to stakes in Apple and Phillips 66

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s company is taking an even bigger bite of Apple stock and adding to its already sizeable stake in Phillips 66. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. filed an update with regulators Monday on its roughly $130 billion U.S. stock portfolio. Berkshire said it held 15.2 million Apple Inc. shares at the end of June, up from the 9.8 million share stake it first disclosed in the spring. The Apple investment raises eyebrows because Buffett has always been reluctant to invest in technology companies. It may have been the work of one of Berkshire’s two other investment managers. Read more

AIG sells its stake in United Guaranty

NEW YORK (AP) — AIG on Monday said it is selling its stake in United Guaranty to Arch Capital Group in a cash-and-stock deal worth $3.4 billion. The move is part of New York-based American International Group Inc.’s ongoing effort to streamline its organization. United Guaranty Corp. is a major private mortgage insurance company. Arch Capital, based in Bermuda, writes specialty lines of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, as well as mortgage insurance and reinsurance. Read more

Home depot rides housing to record sales, profit in 2Q

NEW YORK (AP) — Home Depot posted record sales and earnings during its second quarter and raised its profit expectations for the year as the U.S. housing market continues to warm up. The Atlanta home improvement retailer’s profit jumped 9 percent to $2.44 billion, or $1.97 per share, edging out Wall Street expectations by a penny, according to analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research. Sales surged 6.6 percent to $26.47 billion, also slightly better than expected. Home Depot and its rival, Lowe’s sailed through a downturn in the retail sector this year as a whole, with more Americans funneling money into the homes they own, or putting personal touches on new ones. Read more

Miner BHP Billiton suffers $6.4 billion loss for 2015-16

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The world’s biggest miner, BHP Billiton, on Tuesday reported a $6.4 billion loss – the Anglo-Australian company’s worst ever full-year result – resulting from weak commodity prices, a plunge in the value of its U.S. shale oil assets and a costly dam disaster in Brazil. BHP said its revenue sank 31 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, to $30.1 billion. It also took $4.9 billion in write downs of its U.S. oil and gas assets. BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said the year was a difficult one for his company and the resource industry. Read more

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