Trump: US should manipulate dollar

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is accusing China and Europe of playing a "big currency manipulation game." He says the United States should match that effort, a move that directly contradicts official U.S. policy not to manipulate the dollar's value to gain trade advantages.

In a tweet, the president says if America doesn't act, the country will continue "being the dummies who sit back and politely watch as other countries continue to play their games — as they have for so many years."

Trump's own Treasury Department in May found that no country meets the criteria of being labeled a currency manipulator, although the report did put China and eight other countries on a watch list.

A country manipulates its currency when it drives down the value to make its exports cheaper.

Fire consumes Bean bourbon warehouse

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A fire destroyed a massive Jim Beam warehouse filled with 45,000 barrels of bourbon, sending flames shooting into the night sky and generating so much heat that firetruck lights melted, authorities said Wednesday.

Firefighters from four counties responded to the blaze that erupted late Tuesday. Lightning might have been a factor, but fire investigators haven't been able to start looking for the cause, Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler said.

No injuries were reported, Chandler said. The fire was contained but was being allowed to burn for several more hours Wednesday, he said.

Beam Suntory officials said the multi-story warehouse that burned contained "relatively young whiskey," meaning it had not reached maturity for bottling for consumers.

"Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers," the spirits company said in a statement.

The whiskey maker suffered a total loss in the warehouse. The destroyed whiskey amounted to about 1% of Beam's bourbon inventory, it said.

Jim Beam is the world's largest bourbon brand. The classic American whiskey brand is owned by Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Japanese beverage company.

Trade deficit hits 5-month high

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit rose to a five-month high in May as the politically sensitive imbalances with China and Mexico widened.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the gap between the goods and services the U.S. sells and what it buys from foreign countries rose 8.4% to $55.5 billion in May, the highest since December. Exports increased 2% to $210.6 billion on rising shipments of soybeans, aircraft and cars. But imports climbed more — 3.3% to $266.2 billion — on an increase in crude oil and cellphones.

The deficit in the trade of goods with Mexico rose 18.1% to a record $9.6 billion. The goods gap with China widened 12.2% to $30.2 billion.

President Donald Trump has sought to reduce America's persistent trade deficit, which he sees as a sign of economic weakness and the result of bad trade agreements crafted by naive U.S. negotiators. He has slapped tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum, dishwashers, solar panels and on thousands of Chinese goods. He also has renegotiated a trade pact with Canada and Mexico that awaits approval by Congress.

Survey: Modest job gains in June

WASHINGTON — U.S. companies added just 102,000 jobs in June as small businesses and construction firms shed workers, a private survey found.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the meager gains — after just 41,000 jobs were added in May — indicate a slowdown in the economy. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees cut 37,000 jobs. Construction firms let go 18,000 workers.

Most of the gains came in the health care, education, professional services and trade and transportation sectors.

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The ADP's figures don't include government hiring and frequently diverge from the government's official report, which is scheduled to be released Friday. Economists expect that report will show job gains of 164,000, while the unemployment rate stays 3.6%.

Growtha at services firms slows

WASHINGTON — U.S. services companies grew at a slower pace in June as the pace of hiring, orders and production decelerated.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, says its non-manufacturing index fell to 55.1 from 56.9 in May. Anything above 50 signals growth, though, and the services sector is enjoying a 113-month winning streak.

Sixteen services industries reported growth last month, led by real estate.

Services dominate the American economy, accounting for 84% of private-sector jobs.

Some respondents to the ISM survey expressed concern about heightened trade tensions — though the overall results remained healthy. President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports as the two countries seek to settle their differences over Beijing's aggressive trade policies.

UAE firm pays $7.5M for nixing Six Flags plan

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Dubai firm said Tuesday it will pay $7.5 million to Six Flags after abandoning plans to build a version of the U.S. amusement park in the United Arab Emirates amid a slowdown in the economy.

DXB Entertainments, which runs Dubai Parks & Resorts, said it agreed with Texas-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp. to pay the amount as "a right of first refusal."

In February, DXB Entertainments announced it was cancelling plans to build the $454 million Six Flags, citing financing constraints. The company, which owns other theme parks in Dubai, posted a first quarter net loss of $59 million and visits were down 11% over the same period.

Wire reports