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    Greece, Iran still in focus. Oil prices fell on Friday, in response to concerns over resilient U.S. crude production. The number of U.S. oil-drilling rigs rose by 12 to 640 in the past week, snapping 29 straight weeks of decline, data from Baker Hughes showed late on Thursday.

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    Investors planning for a second-half recovery should look to three of the worst first-half performers on the Dow -- Intel (INTC), Wal-Mart (WMT) and E. I. du Pont, . Take a look at the chart. Not only are all three companies trading at or near their 52-week lows, their respective stock valuations are cheap compared to their industry peers and when paired with the S&P 500 index, which is valued at a P/E of 21.

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    If the market is judge, jury, and executioner, then utilities have been tried, convicted, and sentenced to perpetual underperformance. It's time to consider an appeal. Utilities stocks fell 11% in the first six months of this year, which made them the worst-performing sector in the Standard& Poor's 500 index by a wide margin.

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    By Sam Forgione NEW YORK, July 2 (Reuters) - Investors in U.S.-based funds pulled $59.6 billion out of funds that specialize in U.S. shares in the first half of the year, putting the funds on track for their biggest annual outflows on record, preliminary data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday. The outflows from funds that mainly hold U.S. shares, so far this year through July 1, already overshadowed outflows in any other full year since Lipper records began in 1992, the data show. Funds that specialize in international shares have attracted $125.9 billion, which already surpassed last year's inflows of $115.3 billion, the preliminary data show. "The U.S. market may be a little overpriced, a little frothy, and investors are looking overseas to get better values," Lipper research analyst Patrick Keon said. The benchmark U.S. S&P 500 stock index has risen just 0.9 percent this year after rallying more than 11 percent in 2014. Overall, investors committed $64.4 billion to stock funds in the first half, less than a third of the funds' $231.4 billion inflows in all of 2014, the data show. Taxable bond funds, by comparison, attracted $49.3 billion in the first half after attracting $86.3 billion in the first half of last year, the preliminary data show. In the latest week ended July 1, stock funds posted $10.9 billion in outflows, their biggest since early May, while taxable bond funds posted $4.6 billion in outflows after attracting $3.4 billion in inflows the prior week. Investors shunned both U.S. and international stocks, however, in the latest week. Funds that specialize in U.S. shares bled $9.8 billion, marking their second straight week of outflows and their biggest since early May, while international-focused stock funds posted $1.1 billion in withdrawals to mark their first outflows since early February. Investors also pulled the most cash out of investment-grade bond funds so far this year, at $655 million, and yanked $3 billion out of riskier high-yield bond funds to mark their biggest outflows since mid-December. Investors fled to the safety of funds that specialize in U.S. Treasuries, which attracted their second straight week of inflows at $384 million. The weekly Lipper fund flow data is compiled from reports issued by U.S.-domiciled mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. The following is a broad breakdown of the flows for the week, including exchange-traded funds (in $ billions): Sector Flow Chg % Assets Assets Count ($Bil) ($Bil) All Equity Funds -10.851 -0.20 5,343.522 11,751 Domestic Equities -9.774 -0.25 3,817.073 8,436 Non-Domestic -1.076 -0.07 1,526.449 3,315 Equities All Taxable Bond -4.640 -0.20 2,331.477 6,100 Funds All Money Market 12.249 0.54 2,286.457 1,266 Funds All Municipal Bond -1.199 -0.35 343.712 1,493 Funds (Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Alan Crosby and Christian Plumb)

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    The June U.S. jobs report, which showed that hiring picked up but wages were flat, helped lift the bond market on Thursday. The weaker-than-expected jobs report seemed to be "good news" for bond investors because it was taken as an indication that the data-dependent Federal Reserve could use the report as an excuse to delay the first interest-rate increase in nearly a decade until late 2015.. The yield on the 10- year Treasury note fell 2.3 basis points to 2.393% on Thursday.

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    Tech stocks in the S&P 500 rose more than 1% to outperform the wider S&P index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, both of which fell slightly. Shares of Xoom (XOOM), a provider of digital money transferring services soared more than 21% after an announcement that PayPal would acquire the San Francisco-based company in a deal worth about $890 million.PayPal will pay about $25 a share for Xoom (XOOM), which...

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    * IMF warns Greece needs debt extension. * June U.S. nonfarm payrolls increase less than expected. * Average hourly earnings unchanged. * Seven of the 10 S&P sectors down. * Indexes down: Dow 0.16 pct, S&P 0.03 pct, Nasdaq 0.08 pct. By Sinead Carew.

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    opened slightly higher on Thursday as investors weighed a soft jobs report as well as uncertainty hanging over Greece referendum ahead of the long holiday weekend. Government data for June showed the economy added 223,000 new jobs, in line with forecasts by economists polled by MarketWatch. However, May and April numbers were reduced.

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    ended a holiday-shortened week with losses, as investors grappled with uncertainty hanging over a Greece referendum due on Sunday. The main indexes were little changed on a daily basis, with the trading session muted amid low volumes. The S&P 500 ended 1 point lower at 2,076.27 and recorded a 1.2% loss over the week.

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    Treasury yields finished this holiday-shortened week lower after the U.S. Labor Department said that hiring picked up in June but wages were flat and job gains in the prior two months were cut. The report sparked a rally in the Treasury market, as investors took the news as an indication that the data-dependent Federal Reserve could use the report as cause to delay the first interest-rate increase in nearly a decade toward the end of 2015..

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     Shares of Weatherford Int'l.   were retreating, lower by 0.85% to $11.72 in late afternoon trading Thursday, after WTI crude settled down. Front-month WTI crude prices closed lower by 3 cents to $56.83 a barrel, according to Reuters. Data by oilfield services firm Baker Hughes (BHI)  showed that U.S. oil drilling this week increased for the first time after 29 weeks of declines, Reuters reports.

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    * Prior job gains downgraded, no wage growth in June * Uncertainty over Greece's referendum spur bids for bonds * Futures suggest traders price out Fed rate hike in 2015 * Some analysts see September rate increase still in play (Adds late market action) By Richard Leong NEW YORK, July 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries prices rose on Thursday, rebounding from the prior day's selloff, as data showed an improving labor market cooled in June, raising doubts whether the Federal Reserve would end its near-zero interest rate policy later this year. The government said U.S. employers hired 223,000 workers last month, less than the 230,000 increase forecast by economists polled by Reuters. It also downgraded its reading on April and May job increases, resulting in 60,000 fewer jobs created than previously reported. The latest report also showed an absence of wage gains, which analysts say would disappoint the Fed which has counted on growing paychecks to help support consumer spending and its 2 percent inflation target. "The biggest disappointment was in wages. This set back the progress we had been seeing," said Jeffrey Rosenberg, chief investment strategist for fixed income at New York-based BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager. U.S. interest rates futures rose after the June payrolls report, suggesting traders priced out the chances of a Fed rate increase this year. On the other hand, some economists said the latest data were not so dismal. The Fed may still raise rates in September if momentum in the jobs market reaccelerates this summer. Benchmark 10-year Treasuries notes were up 7/32 in price, erasing losses before the payrolls data. The 10-year yield was last 2.391 percent, down 3 basis points from late on Wednesday and down 8 basis points on the week. Yields on most other issues were down 2 to 6 basis points, while the 30-year yield was flat on the day. Meanwhile, traders who were worried about Greece's referendum on Sunday on bailout terms bought safehaven U.S. government debt ahead of a three-day weekend. U.S. financial markets will close on Friday to observe the Fourth of July holiday. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday urged voters to reject the deal in an effort to force lenders to loosen austerity terms, while Eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Thursday a 'no' vote would not strengthen Greece's negotiation stance to clinch a reform-for-cash deal. Investors hope most Greek voters would vote 'yes' on Sunday as this would signal the country won't exit the euro zone. Traders fear Greece leaving the economic bloc and common currency would roil financial markets. "The Greek referendum outcome could be a big deal next week. The effect could be dramatic but temporary," said Don Ellenberger, head of multi-sector strategies at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh. (Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool)

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    By Walter Brandimarte RIO DE JANEIRO, July 2 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies rallied on Thursday after disappointing U.S. jobs data raised hopes that the Federal Reserve may not hike interest rates in September after all. The prospect that U.S. policymakers could soon start increasing borrowing costs following a string of encouraging economic data had been reducing the allure of higher-yielding emerging market assets over the past few weeks. Some economists practically ruled out the possibility of a September rate hike, however, after a report showed U.S. employers opened 223,000 new jobs last month, less than the 230,000 new positions forecast. The number of new jobs created in April and May was also revised down. The Brazilian real led gains in the region as it jumped 1.4 percent. The Mexican peso gained 0.6 percent, one day after hitting its weakest level on record. Traders said that reports that Brazil's antitrust agency was investigating 15 international banks suspected of manipulating exchange rates in the country did not have an impact on prices for the real. Despite Thursday's gains, economists expect Latin American currencies to test new lows in coming months as prospects of higher U.S. rates, weak commodity prices and uncertainty over Greece boost market volatility. In equity markets, shares of Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, rose 1.6 percent after the state-run oil producer announced the sale of stakes in two offshore oilfields and said it is mulling a share offering for its fuel distribution unit, Petrobras Distribuidora SA. Petrobras has been struggling to reduce its debt burden after a corruption scandal involving its contractors caused additional delays of its oil production targets. Shares of Brazil's JBS SA climbed 1.6 percent after the world's largest meat packer announced the purchase of Cargill Inc's pork business in the United States for $1.45 billion. The Brazilian meat packer said on Thursday it expects to benefit from synergies of more than $75 million after the deal is approved by antitrust authorities in the next four to seven months. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1835 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change Latest MSCI Emerging Markets 972.19 0.03 1.63 MSCI LatAm 2521.98 1.18 -8.62 Brazil Bovespa 53133.41 0.71 6.25 Mexico IPC 45319 0.87 5.04 Chile IPSA 3847.21 0.4 -0.10 Chile IGPA 18769.49 0.34 -0.53 Argentina MerVal 11707.56 0.31 36.47 Colombia IGBC 10167.93 0.47 -12.61 Venezuela IBC 13299.46 3.1 244.66 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.1017 1.37 -14.32 Mexico peso 15.6919 0.56 -6.04 Chile peso 634.5 0.67 -4.43 Colombia peso 2634 0.21 -9.34 Peru sol 3.1711 0.16 -6.06 Argentina peso (interbank) 9.0950 -0.03 -5.99 Argentina peso (parallel) 13.56 -1.18 3.24 (Editing by Grant McCool)

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    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Rafael Ortiz returned to Puerto Rico from New Jersey 20 years ago, eager to live the good life amid the sun-splashed beaches and verdant forests of his birthplace.But more than ever, he finds himself lost in the cloud of uncertainty that grows thicker as this island’s economic problems grow more dire. He is wary of making improvements to his apartment. He hesitates to trade in his 1997 Mitsubishi (MSBHF), because he feels safer knowing he has the money in the bank. That way, he said, he could always opt to join the tens of thousands who flee to the mainland each year to escape the grip of Puerto Rico’s faltering economy.“I never know when I might have to get out of here,” said Ortiz, 56, a clerk at a car-rental agency.Ortiz’s doubts only deepened this week when Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla startled Puerto Rico and financial markets by declaring that the island’s debt of at least $73 billion is “unpayable.”A former president of Puerto Rico’s central bank, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his current employer does not want to anger the government, said Garcia Padilla’s declaration is sowing “a lot of confusion,” largely because, until recently, the administration was pursuing big new loan deals. Also, the governor has always said flatly that the government will pay its debts.“That was a sudden change of direction,” he said, noting that the island’s three major banks all lost about a fifth of their value in recent days. “The governor put a lot of shock in the system.”Garcia Padilla’s message was delivered in a televised address to the Puerto Rican people. But it was aimed at both policymakers in Washington and investors on Wall Street, who he hopes will come to the table to help forge a long-term solution.So far, though, it is not clear that his words are having the desired effect. Many in Congress so far have balked at giving bankruptcy protection to the island’s heavily indebted state-run corporations, a tool that has allowed cities such as Detroit to restructure and get a fresh start. Meanwhile, big investors have shown few signs of being willing to offer more than short-term relief.Oppenheimer, a mutual fund company that holds $4.5 billion in Puerto Rico bonds, including some that carry a guarantee written into Puerto Rico’s constitution, has said it expects the government to pay in full.“We expect Puerto Rico to act within the tenets of the law, including the Commonwealth’s Constitution, and are ready to defend the previously agreed to terms in each and every bond indenture,” the company said in a statement.The ultimate impact on creditors may be uncertain, but for Puerto Rican residents and businesspeople, the effects are as plain as increased taxes, reduced government services and a labor market in which just 2 out of 5 working-age people have a job or are looking for one.Incentives have gotten so out of whack that a consultant’s report released by the government this week noted that for many Puerto Ricans, it is far more lucrative to stay home and collect benefits such as food stamps, utility subsidies and welfare payments than to get a job. Yet, the same report said, the island needs to find a way to lower its $7.25-an-hour minimum wage and loosen rules mandating paid vacation time and overtime to foster more employment growth.Ordinary Puerto Ricans will be paying the price until those knotty issues are ironed out. On Wednesday, the island’s sales tax jumped to 11.5 percent from 7 percent. That increase comes after a series of cuts in government jobs, deep reductions in public pensions and steep hikes in utility rates, intended to raise revenue and dampen the need to turn to Wall Street to keep services functioning.“In one way, we are getting used to it but at the same time, we’re fed up,” Ortiz said. “They keep putting more taxes, and everything is going up, up, up, but we keep hearing that we are deeper and deeper in debt.”Even with all the new levies and belt-tightenings, government revenue has been lackluster. This week, officials said Puerto Rico’s annual budget deficit would be as much as $740 million — meaning the debt hole is that much deeper. The deficit is more than half a billion dollars more than was projected.Given the numbers, many businesspeople here feel like a reckoning is inevitable. The debt has to be reduced and government has to be reformed to allow room for economic growth, they say. What worries them is how it all will play out.“There are certainly a lot of people out there who are concerned about what the transition period is going to look and feel like,” said Federico Stubbe Jr., president of Prisa Group, a development firm. “On the other hand, I see some relief on the horizon. At least now there is a public realization that we will never get out of this without a strong economic plan. If you extend the time, you only extend the pain.”Housing developer Alejandro Brito is among those surprised by the governor’s declaration that Puerto Rico’s debt is unpayable. Not that he disagrees with the conclusion. What baffles him is that it has taken so long for that reality to be acknowledged.“The debt has been unpayable for years,” he said.




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    * IMF warns Greece needs debt extension. * June nonfarm payrolls increase less than expected. * Average hourly earnings unchanged. * Seven of the 10 S&P sectors down. * Indexes down: Dow 0.26 pct, S&P 0.18 pct, Nasdaq 0.32 pct. By Sweta Singh.

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    Suppose senior government officials in Greece had concluded that the euro was a failed experiment, that the rest of the continent would never extend reasonable terms to their country and would instead doom it to perpetual recession, and that the only way to save Greece from disaster -- and Europe, too -- was to begin the process of unwinding the common currency.They'd have encountered a major obstacle to leaving the euro: Greeks really like it. To get rid of it, the country's leaders would have had just one option: sabotage negotiations with the creditors, blame them for being unreasonable, and then eventually tell voters that Greece has no choice but to go back to the drachma.If that's the Greek strategy, as Simon Nixon speculates in The Wall Street Journal, it seems to be working:If [Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras had set out in January to take Greece out of the eurozone, it is very hard to think of anything he would have done differently. He won the election on a pledge to respect the overwhelming desire of voters to remain in the eurozone, which meant he had no choice but to go through the motions of negotiating with Greece’s creditors for as along as they were willing to indulge him. If Grexit was always his goal, then his only challenge was to ensure the talks dragged on until the bailout expired, capital controls were introduced and the country defaulted, making a euro exit hard to avoid.He has played it so perfectly, in fact, that the rest of the world is busily calling Tsipras and his advisers naïve and incompetent, not realizing that he's already won."A few years ago many of the men now in charge spent their time discussing the contradictions of capitalism over coffee and cigarettes," The Economist opined in May. "Few had ever run anything, let alone a government."Maybe this analysis gives Tsipras too much credit. As Nixon notes, it's impossible to know what the premier was really thinking, and if his goal was to keep the country in the euro, he has done a terrible job.On the other hand, he is being advised by his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, an economist widely respected for his work on game theory.Happy 4th of July! Wonkbook will return on Monday.Welcome to Wonkbook. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. Follow Wonkblog on Twitter and Facebook.What's in Wonkbook: 1) Greek debt 2) Long reads, including on jobs 3) the Justice Dept. is investigating price manipulation in the airline industry, and moreNumber of the day: 81. That's approximately the number of things that Mike Huckabee has denounced, according to an analysis of the former Arkansas governor's statements. The list includes "dogs wearing clothes" and "the actress Natalie Portman, for being pregnant and unmarried." David A. Fahrenthold in The Washington Post.1. Top story: No progress on Greek debtGreece alternates between surrender and defiance. "In a nationally-televised address, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek premier, urged his countrymen to vote No in a referendum on whether they should accept tough terms for bailout aid, and accused EU leaders of threatening to drive Greece out of the euro. ... The prime minister's hardline speech, which some eurozone officials saw as a declaration of impending Grexit, came despite an apparent major climbdown just hours earlier. In a letter sent to Greece’s creditors he accepted most of the terms of the earlier bailout. Markets across Europe rose on the news. But the letter was given short shrift by eurozone officials. They said the remaining concessions Mr Tsipras was seeking were 'not a handful of minor changes' and the letter could not form the basis of the new €29.1bn bailout programme Athens is now seeking." Peter Spiegel, Kerin Hope and Claire Jones in The Financial Times.Greek voters, meanwhile, have no idea what to make of Sunday's referendum. "Imagine the fate of your country hangs on a yes-or-no question. The question is drafted in cryptic, bureaucratic language and asks you to decide on an economic program that no longer exists. Leaders in neighboring countries are begging you to vote yes. Your government is begging you to vote no. Now you can understand what it feels like to live in Greece, land of debt, sunshine and, these days, profound political weirdness. The country is approaching one of the most important votes in its modern history on Sunday — one that could redefine its place in Europe — yet many people acknowledge they barely have a clue as to what, exactly, they are voting on." Jim Yardley in The New York Times.How did all this happen? "Once the Greeks joined the euro in 2002, they could borrow at very cheap rates given they were now borrowing under the continent's implicit guarantee, and they dramatically over-borrowed. ... In the mid-1990s, even before it came into existence, markets made a huge bet that the euro would be a reality. Specifically, investors, many in northern Europe, bet that interest rates in northern and southern Europe would converge. At the time, interest rates in southern Europe were much higher than in northern Europe, simply because people thought investing in countries like Greece was much riskier than investing in countries like Germany. In anticipation of the euro zone, investors put lots of money in the cheap, high-yielding bonds of southern Europe. That helped to drive down yields and fueled borrowing and an economic boom in southern countries." Ana Swanson in The Washington Post.IP: The euro is still very popular. "Even before the euro was launched, many American economists considered it doomed, a political project erected on a flawed economic foundation. ... With Greece headed toward a referendum that could start the unraveling of the common currency, those skeptics might be tempted to crow 'I told you so.' They should resist the temptation. The crisis has indeed laid bare the euro’s rickety economic architecture. But it has also affirmed its extraordinary political appeal. And that may yet be its salvation. For many Europeans, the euro symbolizes Europe, and as hard as life with the euro has been, life without it looks worse. In Greece and Spain, among the hardest-hit countries during the financial crisis, support for retaining the currency tops 70% in recent polls." The Wall Street Journal.2. Top long reads for the long weekend This is the only essay about Millennials you ever need to read. "Millennials do have some real potential advantages over previous generations, from our higher levels of education to all the possible benefits of digital technologies. But before we get too excited about all the low-cost goods and services our generation can summon with an app, we need to understand that even these features of the 'sharing economy' are making some people above us very rich while we become a generation that owns virtually nothing. ... Many Millennials—including me—are no longer working full-time jobs but are instead making do with the gig economy, part of the contingent job market that is comprising a bigger and bigger share of the labor force. By some estimates, contract employment made up fully half of the jobs added after the recession, and contract workers are currently 40 percent of the labor force. ... We don’t have benefits, like health insurance or employer matches for 401(k)s, and our jobs are unstable. Employers can end relationships with us at any time, and much of the work is project based. Contacts and clients can dry up, and it’s harder to forge new ones without an office to go to. Skills can atrophy. These workplace setbacks can impact the rest of our lives." Monica Potts in the Washington Monthly.Teachers at some charter schools are unionizing. "For teachers, unions, and charter school advocates, the moment is fraught with challenges. Traditional unions are grappling with how they can both organize charter teachers and still work politically to curb charter expansion. Charter school backers and funders are trying to figure out how to hold an anti-union line, while continuing to market charters as vehicles for social justice. ... Higher teacher salaries, more transparent pay scales, and greater control over working conditions may help attract more qualified candidates to teach. Research does show that increased teacher voice helps decrease teacher turnover, and it also shows that high teacher turnover costs schools millions of dollars, disrupts student learning, and weakens institutional capacity. Many objectives that teachers hope to achieve through unionization are grounded in a desire for greater stability." Rachel Cohen in The American Prospect.The old economic prophecy of a world without labor is being fulfilled. "Some economists and technologists have warned that the economy is near a tipping point. When they peer deeply into labor-market data, they see troubling signs, masked for now by a cyclical recovery. ... Futurists and science-fiction writers have at times looked forward to machines’ workplace takeover with a kind of giddy excitement, imagining the banishment of drudgery and its replacement by expansive leisure and almost limitless personal freedom. And make no mistake: if the capabilities of computers continue to multiply while the price of computing continues to decline, that will mean a great many of life’s necessities and luxuries will become ever cheaper, and it will mean great wealth—at least when aggregated up to the level of the national economy. But even leaving aside questions of how to distribute that wealth, the widespread disappearance of work would usher in a social transformation unlike any we’ve seen." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.Unit of measure of the day: The gigaton. "A gigaton is equivalent to a billion metric tons. A male African elephant might weigh, at most, 6.8 metric tons, according to the San Diego Zoo. So a gigaton is well over a hundred million African elephants. As for sea life, the blue whale can weigh as much as 146 metric tons, according to NOAA. So a gigaton is more than 6 million blue whales." Chris Mooney in The Washington Post.3. In case you missed itThe Justice Department is investigating price manipulation in the airline industry. "The Justice Department is investigating whether some of America’s biggest airlines have colluded to keep airfares high, striking at an industry that has posted record profits recently while limiting routes and affordable seats, officials familiar with the matter said Wednesday. ... Representatives from Delta Air Lines (DAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV), American Airlines (AAL) and United Airlines confirmed they were among those being investigated and said they were complying with Justice Department requests. ... 'Economics 101. Reducing supply with rising demand means increased prices,' Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview. 'Consumers are suffering rising fares and other added charges that seem to be the result of excessive market power concentrated in too few hands and potential misuse of that power.' " Drew Harwell, Ashley Halsey III and Thad Moore in The Washington Post.The federal minimum wage is holding back Puerto Rico. "Puerto Rico’s long-simmering debt crisis owes much to an economy that has been shedding jobs for years. And blame for that, economists say, stems in part from how the island operates under the same wage rules as the more prosperous 50 states. The commonwealth is subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, even though local income and productivity are significantly lower than in Mississippi, the poorest American state. The minimum wage in Puerto Rico is equal to 77% of per capita income, compared with 28% in the U.S. overall. ... The island’s lack of competitiveness can be seen in the scant growth of its low-skill and low-wage industries, such as tourism. The number of hotel beds on the island has changed little from the 1970s, and tourist arrivals are down over the past decade." Nick Timiraos and Ana Campoy in The Wall Street Journal.Californians are using less water. "Residential water use in California fell 28.9 percent in May, the biggest decline since the state’s governor mandated citizens cut their water consumption to weather a severe drought." Devin Henry in The Hill.






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    Merger-hungry giants lurk, putting insurer marriage at risk. After boosting its shares in premarket trading, investors turned sour on Centene Corp. Thursday morning as the Medicaid insurer's announced plans to buy Health Net Inc. (HNT) quickly transformed into talk of a bidding war. Centene (CNC) was off $4.90 to $76 as rumors swirled that the company, a smaller player in managed care, could face competition for Health Net's (HNT) hand by some of the industry behemoths that have been on an...