Global Glance: US oil industry pushes back on sanctions against Venezuela; US productivity rose modestly in spring

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

US oil industry pushes back on sanctions against Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday to slap sanctions on eight members of Venezuela’s all-powerful constitutional assembly brings to 30 the number of government loyalists targeted for human rights abuses and violations of democratic norms since anti-government protests began in April. But even as the list of targeted individuals grows longer, promised economic sanctions have yet to materialize amid an outcry by the U.S. oil industry that a potential ban on petroleum imports from Venezuela – the third-largest supplier to the U.S. – would hurt U.S. jobs and drive up gas costs. Read more

US productivity rose a modest 0.9 percent in spring

WASHINGTON (AP) — The productivity of American workers rose just modestly in the spring, extending a worrisome issue that has persisted throughout this expansion. Productivity grew at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the April-June quarter, slightly better than a scant 0.1 percent rate of increase in the first quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Labor costs edged up at a 0.6 percent rate in the second quarter, a sharp slowdown from a 5.4 percent growth rate in the first quarter. Productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, has been weak throughout the economic recovery, now in its ninth year. Many analysts say the issue is the biggest economic challenge facing the country. Read more

Study: Trump actions trigger health premium hikes for 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s own actions are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many consumers, a nonpartisan study has found. The analysis released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty “far outside the norm,” leading insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case. The report comes with Republicans in Congress unable to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Trump, meanwhile, insists lawmakers try again. Read more

OPEC production rises again to above its output ceiling

VIENNA (AP) — Production of crude oil across all OPEC countries rose again in July, to above the level the cartel has agreed would be the upper limit – and above the estimated level of global demand. The cartel said Thursday in a market report that its countries’ production rose for a third month in July, by 173,000 daily barrels, to an average of 32.9 million barrels a day. That puts it above the 32.5 million barrels a day that the group had agreed in November would be their limit. Read more

Morris Communications selling newspapers to Gatehouse Media

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Morris Communications will sell its 11 daily newspapers and other publications in those markets to New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media Inc., the companies announced Wednesday. New Media said in a news release it will pay $120 million to purchase Morris Publishing Group, the newspaper division of Georgia-based Morris Communications. Read more

Google gender debacle speaks to tech culture wars, politics

NEW YORK (AP) — The Google engineer who blamed biological differences for the paucity of women in tech had every right to express his views. And Google likely had every right to fire him, workplace experts and lawyers say. Special circumstances – from the country’s divisive political climate to Silicon Valley’s broader problem with gender equity – contributed to the outrage and subsequent firing. But the fallout should still serve as a warning to anyone in any industry expressing unpopular, fiery viewpoints. Read more

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