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Business Highlights

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US factory activity expands in June, jobs decline

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. manufacturing activity grew in June behind a pickup in new orders, exports and production. Better economic growth overseas is boosting U.S. exports and could help American factories rebound in the second half of the year.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of factory activity increased to 50.9 in June. That's up from 49 in May, which was the lowest reading in four years.

A reading above 50 suggests growth, while those below indicate contraction.

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US construction spending up 0.5 percent in May

WASHINGTON (AP) ⿿ Spending on residential housing rose in May to the highest level in 4½ years, helping to send overall construction spending higher despite a big drop in nonresidential activity.

Construction spending rose 0.5 percent in May compared with April when spending was up 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said Monday.

Private residential construction rose 1.2 percent to the highest level since October 2008, further evidence of a rebound in housing. Spending on nonresidential projects fell 1.4 percent, dragged lower by declines in office building and the category that includes shopping centers.

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Energy drinks go natural as market buzzes along

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) â¿¿ Energy drinks are busting out of the convenience store cooler and into the health food aisle.

As energy drink sales soar like a caffeine-fueled rocket, more drinks are promoting organic ingredients, added juices, natural caffeine and so-called "clean" energy. A jolt from Rockstar not your speed? There's the "natural energy drink" Guru, and Steaz Energy, which according to the can is "good for the mind, body and soul." Or there's Runa's energy drink, made from something called Amazonian guayusa leaves.

Claims of cleaner caffeine boosts come as energy drinks find themselves under increasing scrutiny, particularly for their effects on children and adolescents. The word "organic" in front of "energy drink" might seem as incompatible as yoga pants with a backward tractor cap, but analysts say that as the market for energy drinks grows, it's diversifying.

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