Three cruise ships will stop in Portland this weekend

Three cruise ships will stop in Portland for portions of the weekend.

The largest, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas with 1,950 passengers, will arrive at Ocean Gateway’s Pier 2 at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and depart eight hours later.

Independence, an American Cruise Lines ship with 98 passengers, will dock at Ocean Gateway from 5 p.m. Friday through 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Another of that line’s ships, American Glory, will dock with 49 passengers at Ocean Gateway from 8 p.m. Friday through 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Unemployment benefit claims increased last week

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 309,000. But the data was distorted for the second straight week by reporting delays.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week average fell 7,000 to 314,750, the lowest in nearly six years.

Applications plummeted two weeks ago when California and Nevada were unable to report all their data because of computer upgrades in both states.

Gauge of U.S. economy signals stronger growth

WASHINGTON – A gauge of the U.S. economy’s future health posted a solid gain in August, signaling stronger growth in coming months.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.7 percent in August from July. That followed a 0.5 percent gain in July from June.

The index is designed to signal economic conditions over the next three to six months.

Former Nintendo president dies in Japan at age 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi, who ran Nintendo for more than 50 years and led the Japanese company’s transition from traditional playing-card maker to video game giant, has died. He was 85.

Kyoto-based Nintendo said Yamauchi, who was also known for owning the Seattle Mariners major league baseball club, died Thursday of pneumonia at a hospital in central Japan.

Yamauchi was Nintendo president from 1949 to 2002, and engineered the company’s global growth, including developing the early Family Computer consoles and Game Boy portables. Nintendo, which makes Super Mario and Pokemon games as well as the Wii U home console, was founded in 1889.

Trade deficit sinks to lowest level in nearly three years

The U.S. current account trade deficit narrowed in the April-June quarter to the lowest level in nearly three years.

The imbalance fell to $98.9 billion in the second quarter, a drop of 5.7 percent from the first quarter deficit of $104.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The spring deficit was the lowest since a $93.8 billion imbalance in the third quarter of 2009, a period when the Great Recession had cut into demand for foreign goods.

– From staff and news services