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Business Highlights:

July 20, 2021 GMT

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US opioid lawsuits on verge of settlements with 4 companies

NEW YORK (AP) — The three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion deal to settle lawsuits brought by state and local governments across the country over the toll of prescription opioids, lawyers suing on behalf of local governments said. Full details of the settlement involving AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson could come this week but it could take months to get final approval from state and local governments. A $1 billion-plus deal involving the three distributors and the state of New York was also announced Tuesday.

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Critics take aim at charitable money sitting in donor funds

NEW YORK (AP) — Wealthy philanthropists have long enjoyed an advantageous way to give to charity: Using something called a donor-advised fund, they’ve been able to enjoy tax deductions and investment gains on their donations long before they give the money away. These so-called DAFs set no deadlines for when the donations must reach charities; the donors themselves decide when and where the money goes. Critics complain that because DAFs provide no financial incentive to quickly donate the money, much of it ends up sitting indefinitely in the accounts rather than being distributed to needy charities. That criticism has helped drive a Senate bill that would tighten the rules for DAFs and speed donations to charities.

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Hoe no! Facebook snafu spells trouble for gardening group

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Moderating a Facebook gardening group in western New York is not without challenges. There are complaints of wooly bugs, inclement weather and the novice members who insist on using dish detergent on their plants. And then there’s the word “hoe.” Facebook’s algorithms sometimes flag this particular word as “violating community standards,” apparently referring to a different word, one without an “e” at the end that is nonetheless often misspelled as the garden tool. Elizabeth Licata, one of the group’s moderators, said it has been futile trying to reach Facebook to correct the mistake.

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Stocks regain much of the ground they lost a day earlier

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks jumped on Wall Street on Tuesday, making up much of the ground they lost a day earlier when worries flared about spreading cases of the more contagious variant of COVID-19. It was the latest rebound following a pullback as investors continue to try and assess how badly rising infections will hurt the economic recovery. The S&P 500 rose 1.5%, a day after its biggest drop since May. Airlines and other stocks that sank a day earlier were back in the winning column. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.21% but remains well below where it was last week, a sign investors remain cautious.

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Netflix confirms move into video games as its growth slows

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SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Netflix reported its worst slowdown in subscriber growth in eight years as people emerge from their pandemic cocoons. But it has an answer to that: video games. On Tuesday, the streaming giant announced plans to begin adding video games to its existing subscription plans at no extra cost. The confirmation of the long-anticipated expansion came in conjunction with the release of its latest earnings report. That financial breakdown showed the video service added 1.5 million subscribers during the April-June period. That’s slightly better than the modest increase that management forecast after the service stumbled to a sluggish start during the winter months, but still far below its growth rate in recent years.

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Macron among 14 heads of states on potential spyware list

BOSTON (AP) — Amnesty International says French President Emmanuel Macron leads a list of 14 current or former heads of state potentially targeted for hacking by clients of the notorious Israeli spyware firm NSO Group. Among potential targets found on a list of 50,000 phone numbers leaked to Amnesty and the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories are Presidents Imran Khan of Pakistan, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Barham Salih of Iraq. The Washington Post says three current prime ministers and the king of Morocco are also on the list. It is a member of a global media consortium that has been reporting on the leaked list since Sunday. NSO Group denies ever maintaining “a list of potential, past or existing targets.”

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US home construction jumps 6.3% in June

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Home construction in the U.S. rose a strong 6.3% in June, another big swing in what has been an up-and-down year so far. The rise in June put home construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million units, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Applications for building permits, which are used to forecast future activity, declined 5.1% in June to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.59 million units. Month-to-month, homebuilding activity has been on a wild ride so far this year, with several double-digit swings in either direction. But housing remains one of the stronger segments of the economy, with buyers far outnumbering sellers.

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The S&P 500 rose 64.57 points, or 1.5%, to 4,323.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 549.95 points, or 1.6%, to 34,511.99. The Nasdaq added 223.89 points, or 1.6%, to 14,498.88. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 63.62 points, or 3%, to 2,194.30.