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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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What if there's no affordable insurance to buy?

More than 1,000 counties are down to their last insurance carrier on the Affordable Care Act's public insurance exchanges. Less competition could mean sharply higher rates, and with more insurers still considering leaving, some customers could be left with no affordable coverage options for 2018.

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GM sheds money drain, gains cash with sale of European unit

DETROIT (AP) -- GM on Monday sold its European Opel and Vauxhall brands to French carmaker PSA Group for roughly $2.33 billion, retreating from the world's third-largest auto market after almost two decades of futile efforts to make money. The brands have lost $20 billion in the fiercely competitive region since last making a full-year profit in 1999.

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Bird flu found at Tyson Foods chicken supplier

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tens of thousands of chickens have been destroyed at a Tennessee chicken farm due to a bird flu outbreak, and 30 other farms within a six-mile radius have been quarantined. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 73,500 chickens were destroyed at the farm, which supplies Tyson Foods Inc., and will not enter the food system.

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New Exxon chief enters the market, cautiously

HOUSTON (AP) -- Darren Woods, the new CEO of Exxon Mobil, is emerging from a more cautious wing of the oil business, where controlling costs is the name of the game. It could be a study in contrasts from his predecessor Rex Tillerson, a longtime pathfinder from the rough and tumble exploration side.

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Trump cheers Exxon plan to spend $20B on Gulf Coast projects

HOUSTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump praised Exxon Mobil Corp. after the company announced plans to create thousands of jobs by spending $20 billion over 10 years on refineries, chemical and liquefied natural gas plants along the Gulf Coast. Exxon said the work would create 12,000 permanent jobs — Exxon currently has about 71,000 employees — and 35,000 construction jobs.

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UK lawmakers to companies: End sexist high-heel dress codes

LONDON (AP) -- In a debate that has gone from office corridors to Britain's Parliament, lawmakers have put their foot down and urged employers to stop making women wear high heels as part of corporate dress codes. Members of Parliament have debated a ban on mandatory workplace high heels in response to a petition started by a receptionist who was sent home without pay for wearing flat shoes.

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Scientists tweak seat cushion material to clean oil spills

NEW YORK (AP) -- Federal researchers say they've created a new tool to clean up oil spills by tinkering with the foamy stuff found in seat cushions. The modified foam can quickly soak up oil floating on water and lurking below the surface, and then can be repeatedly wrung out and reused.

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Losses for banks pull US stocks further from record highs

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks finished lower Monday for the second time in the last three trading days. Banks gave back some of their recent gains after a jump in interest rates last week sent them sharply higher. There were few winners to be found on Wall Street as more than two-thirds of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange fell.

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US factory orders up 1.2 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. businesses increased their orders in January although a key component that tracks business investment spending fell for the first time in four months. The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 1.2 percent, led by a jump in demand for aircraft.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 7.81 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 2,375.31. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,954.34. The Nasdaq composite lost 21.58 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,849.17.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 13 cents to $53.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, picked up 11 cents to $56.01 a barrel in London. Natural gas companies rose as futures jumped 2.6 percent to $2.90 per 1,000 cubic feet. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.67 a gallon and heating oil picked up 1 cent to $1.60 a gallon.