Apple's new offerings: Cheaper iPhone, streaming TV

Apple executive Stan Ng talks about the Apple Watch on Tuesday. Tony Avelar/AP

Stock mostly higher after late surge

NEW YORK — Major U.S. stock indexes closed mostly higher Tuesday, erasing much of an early slide, as investors favored smaller, U.S.-focused companies for the second straight day.

Industrial, energy and health care stocks helped power the market higher. Banks also notched solid gains amid a broad pullback in demand for U.S. government bonds, which pushed yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.73 percent from 1.62 percent late Monday, a big move that helped bank stocks.

For the second day in a row, traders unloaded technology stocks and shares in companies that rely on consumer spending. Microsoft dropped, as did payment processors Visa and Mastercard.

"It seems like a complete reversal of what's kind of been the theme over the last few months, where it's been more about higher quality, higher market cap, higher growth, more stable growth and lower volatility," said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "Things that had been doing well just completely got sold and the things that had been lagging completely got bought."

Apple unveils cheaper phone, TV pricing

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple unveiled new iPhones that are largely unchanged from previous models and accompanied by an unexpected price cut for the cheapest model, underscoring its fforts to counteract a sales slump of its flagship product.

The new models are so similar to last year's lineup they may be upstaged by Apple TV Plus, the company's upcoming video service, which is rolling out on Nov. 1 at $5 per month. 

Shipments of iPhones are down 25 percent so far this year, according to the research firm IDC, putting more pressure on Apple to generate revenue from services such as music and video streaming, games and its App Store.

It is cutting the price of the iPhone 11 to $700 from $750, the price of last year's XR. The lower price reverses a trend in which premium phones get more expensive as people upgrade them less often.

Apple also announced a new videogame subscription service will cost $5 a month when it rolls out Sept. 19. Called Apple Arcade, the service will allow subscribers to play more than 100 games selected by Apple and exclusive to the service.

US job openings slipped in July

WASHINGTON — The number of open U.S. jobs slipped 0.4 percent in July, while hires climbed slightly, a sign that some employers may be growing cautious amid rising economic uncertainty.

The Labor Department says that employers advertised 7.22 million available jobs in July, down from a revised 7.25 million in June. Still, total hiring edged up to 6 million, and the number of quits rose 3.76 percent from the prior month. That points to a largely healthy job outlook.

There are 1.2 job openings for every unemployed person, suggesting that many businesses remain hungry for workers. Additional hiring could be especially significant in fueling consumer spending, which is the primary driver of economic growth.

Last week, the government said U.S. employers added 130,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent.

Target to hire 8% more for holidays

MINNEAPOLIS — Target is hiring more than 130,000 people ahead of the critical holiday season, up 8 percent from last year.

The retailer is doubling to 8,000 the number hires dedicated to handling online orders.

While the jobs are described as season, Target said Tuesday that 40 percent of the 120,000 people hired last year stayed with the Minneapolis company after the holidays.

Hiring has become more expensive for Target Corp. as it tries to improve the experience of shopping in its stores. All seasonal workers will receive a starting salary of $13 per hour after Target raised its minimum wage in June. Its goal is to pay a $15 minimum hourly wage by the end of next year.

Alibaba founder exits as chairman

BEIJING — Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, who helped launch China's online retailing boom, stepped down as chairman of the world's biggest e-commerce company Tuesday at a time when its fast-changing industry faces uncertainty amid a U.S.-Chinese tariff war.

Ma, one of China's wealthiest and best-known entrepreneurs, gave up his post on his 55th birthday as part of a succession announced a year ago. He will stay on as a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of the company's board.

Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 to connect Chinese exporters to American retailers.

The company has shifted focus to serving China's growing consumer market and expanded into online banking, entertainment and cloud computing. Domestic businesses accounted for 66 percent of its $16.7 billion in revenue in the quarter ending in June.

Chinese retailing faces uncertainty amid a tariff war that has raised the cost of U.S. imports.

Growth in online sales decelerated to 17.8 percent in the first half of 2019 amid slowing Chinese economic growth, down from 2018's full-year rate of 23.9 percent.

One of last Fla. juice plants to close

ORLANDO — One of only a handful of orange juice-processing plants left in Florida will no longer process fruit in yet another sign of the havoc that diseases and Hurricane Irma have had on the fortunes of growers of the state's signature crop.

Southern Gardens Citrus on Tuesday said it has stopped processing fruit at its plant in southwest Florida. Company officials say the plant was built a quarter century ago to process 20 million boxes of fruit. It only processed 6.5 million boxes of citrus last year.

Citrus diseases and Hurricane Irma in 2017 caused drops in the number of citrus Florida produces.

Florida Citrus Mutual, the industry's advocacy group, says Florida now has seven citrus processing plants left in the state, down from around 30 processors two decades ago.

Wire reports

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