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TALKING POINTS

New car inventory at a record low

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AUTOMOTIVE

New car inventory at a record low

Carmakers’ new-vehicle inventory has dropped to a record low in the United States as the global chip shortage hampers efforts to keep up with voracious auto demand. Inventory on dealer lots stood at just 23 days’ supply at the end of May, down from 33 days a month earlier, JPMorgan analysts led by Ryan Brinkman wrote in a report Thursday. The industry norm is around 60 days. At $38,225, the average price of new vehicles set another all-time monthly high, Brinkman wrote. He expects cars to keep getting costlier as supply-starved automakers slash sales incentives until semiconductor availability improves. Meanwhile, General Motors Co. says efforts to manage the global computer chip shortage have worked better than expected, so it’s financial results will improve over previous forecasts. — ASSOCIATED PRESS, BLOOMBERG NEWS

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THEME PARKS

Disneyland has low-key opening for new Avengers attraction

When Walt Disney Co. debuted its Cars Land themed area at its California Adventure park in 2012, celebrities and TV crews stretched for blocks along a red carpet leading to the resort. The park’s newest attraction, the Marvel-superhero-themed Avengers Campus, debuts this weekend without that level of fanfare. The company held a relatively subdued opening ceremony Wednesday evening. It was live-streamed with some celebrities — and fireworks — but without the usual hoopla. Theme parks in California are still operating at 35 percent capacity limits — until at least June 15, when the caps lift statewide and non-California residents can attend. Even then Disney will likely be limiting crowds as it looks to enforce its own social-distancing targets. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FOOD

Prices at a near-decade high

Global food prices extended their rally to the highest in almost a decade, heightening concerns over bulging grocery bills as economies struggle to exit the COVID-19 crisis. A United Nations gauge of world food costs climbed for a 12th straight month in May, its longest stretch in a decade. Drought in key Brazilian growing regions is crippling crops from corn to coffee, and vegetable oil production growth has slowed in Southeast Asia. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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HOUSING

Prices climbing at brisk pace worldwide

Housing prices worldwide are rising the most since before the global financial crisis, following a market frenzy seen in places from New Zealand to Canada to Singapore during the pandemic. Average prices jumped 7.3 percent in the 12 months up to March, the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2006, Knight Frank’s Global House Price Index report showed Thursday. Turkey topped the list, registering 32 percent growth, followed by New Zealand at 22.1 percent. The United States took fifth spot at 13.2 percent, its steepest increase since December 2005. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

China accuses brands that have criticized it of importing unsafe children’s clothes, toys

The Chinese government has accused H&M, Nike, Zara, and other brands of importing unsafe or poor quality children’s clothes and other goods, adding to headaches for foreign companies after Beijing attacked them over complaints about possible forced labor in the country’s northwest. A list of “quality and safety unqualified” products from 16 companies including T-shirts, toys, and toothbrushes was released by the customs agency to mark International Children’s Day this week. The announcement is a setback for foreign brands that were attacked by state media in March following accusations by governments and human rights groups that Beijing uses forced labor in Xinjiang in China’s northwest. State TV called for a boycott of H&M over a statement issued a year earlier saying it would no longer use cotton from Xinjiang. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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MEDICAL DEVICES

Medtronic halts sales of device for heart failure patients

Medtronic is halting sales of its HVAD device that helps patients with advanced heart failure pump blood on growing evidence that it leads to more strokes and other adverse events than competing models. Medtronic is developing a program with an independent panel of clinician advisers to support the approximately 4,000 patients who currently have the device implanted. The company said it previously warned physicians that the HVAD pump may experience a delay or fail to restart after it’s stopped, which can worsen a patient’s heart condition and even result in death. Abbott Laboratories said in a statement that it has capacity and supply to support increased demand for HeartMate 3 devices that it makes. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter unveils subscription service

Twitter unveiled its long-awaited subscription service, offering paying customers exclusive features for rescinding tweets and organizing posts as part of a push to ease the social network’s dependence on advertising revenue. Dubbed Twitter Blue, the product will cost $2.99 a month for access to tools including the ability to “undo“ a post before it goes out publicly, organize bookmarked tweets into folders, and more easily read long tweet threads. Subscribers will also get faster service for customer-support claims, can choose from new app colors, and will have the ability to modify the Twitter app icon on iOS devices. The subscription model could help Twitter diversify its business at a time when the pandemic has underscored the risks of a heavy reliance on digital advertising. The company makes more than 85 percent of its revenue from advertising, with the remainder coming from its data licensing business. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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TRANSPORTATION

Amtrak bringing back finer dining on some routes

Amtrak is bringing back the traditional dining experience to some long-distance trains this month, promising an improved experience with made-to-order plates. The passenger railroad last year switched to prepackaged meals on long-haul routes that travel west of Chicago and New Orleans amid low ridership and efforts to keep passenger and employee interactions at a minimum during the coronavirus pandemic. Amtrak said it has no plans to return the white-tablecloth service to the one-night routes east of the Mississippi River where freshly prepared meals were replaced with boxed options before the pandemic. — WASHINGTON POST

MORTGAGES

Rates remain under 3 percent

After the holiday weekend, mortgage rates drifted up but still stayed under 3 percent. According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average grew to 2.99 percent. It was 2.95 percent a week ago and 3.18 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate average held steady at 2.27 percent. It was 2.62 percent a year ago. — WASHINGTON POST

INVESTING

YODA comes to European markets

The ETF space race is going global, as a new intergalactic-inspired product prepares for its London debut in the coming days. With a ticker pulled straight from the pop-culture playbook, YODA will be the first exchange-traded fund in Europe tracking the “space economy,” according to a release from issuer Procure Holdings. It joins a tiny handful of similarly themed offerings in North America. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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INTERNATIONAL

Female Tesco workers entitled to equal pay

Thousands of female Tesco workers in the UK were handed a post-Brexit boost after the European Union’s top court said the bloc’s rules on equal pay for equal work can be invoked in supermarket pay cases. The UK’s largest retailer lost a ruling Thursday, which allows EU law to be taken into account when determining if predominantly female shop workers can compare the work they do to those who work in Tesco’s warehouses. — BLOOMBERG NEWS