Business Highlights News Staff

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White House begins talks with lawmakers on COVID-19 relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top aides to President Joe Biden have begun talks with a group of moderate Senate Republicans and Democrats on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The talks come as Biden faces increasing headwinds in his effort to win bipartisan backing for the initial legislative effort of his presidency. Lawmakers on the right question the wisdom of racking up bigger deficits. Those on the left are urging Biden not to spend too much time on bipartisanship when the pandemic is killing thousands each day and costing more jobs. One key Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said afterward she would reconvene a bipartisan group to focus on “a more targeted package.”

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Fed will likely stress commitment to low rates amid pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve this week will likely underscore its commitment to its low-interest rate policies, even as the economy recovers further from the devastation of the viral pandemic. Chair Jerome Powell is sure to strike a dovish tone at a news conference after the Fed’s latest policy meeting ends Wednesday. He may, in particular, aim to puncture any speculation that the Fed might soon curtail its aggressive efforts to support the economy, including its bond purchase program that aims to hold down long-term interest rates.

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Job losses from virus 4 times as bad as ’09 financial crisis

GENEVA (AP) — A UN report says that four times as many jobs were lost last year due to the coronavirus pandemic as during the worst part of the global financial crisis in 2009. The report published Monday by the International Labor Organization says that the restrictions on businesses and public life destroyed 8.8% of all work hours around the world last year. That is equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs – four times the impact of the financial crisis over a decade ago. The UN agency noted that most people who lost work stopped looking for a job altogether.

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Smaller investors face down hedge funds, as GameStop soars

NEW YORK (AP) — A head-scratching David and Goliath story is playing out on Wall Street over the stock price of a money-losing videogame retailer. An army of smaller-pocketed, optimistic investors is throwing dollars and buy orders at the stock of GameStop — in direct opposition to a group of wealthy investors who are counting on the stock price to plunge. The resulting action is wild, with GameStop’s stock soaring nearly 145% in less than two hours Monday morning, only for the gains to disappear quickly afterward. And so far, the smaller investors appear to be winning.

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Biden names Democrats to lead nuclear, pipeline agencies

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has named two Democrats to lead energy-related commissions that oversee nuclear power, natural gas and other energy infrastructure. Christopher Hanson, the new chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Rich Glick, leader of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, replace Republicans who led the panels under President Donald Trump. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, while FERC oversees natural gas pipelines and other energy projects.

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More cancellations for Carnival amid jumbled vaccine rollout

MIAMI (AP) — Carnival Cruise Line is cancelling and delaying more U.S. trips. The move comes as new cases of COVID-19 are averaging about 170,000 per day in the country amid a jumbled rollout of vaccines. Carnival’s planned seasonal service out of San Diego has been suspended until further notice, and cruises scheduled through April 2023 were cancelled. The company said Monday that some trips from California to Hawaii will continue, but will sail from Long Beach instead. Carnival began warning travellers of cancellations on Friday.

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A bumpy day on Wall Street ends with stock indexes mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street ended a choppy day with mixed results Monday as the market struggled to find direction. Apple and other Big Tech stocks lurched higher, then lower, then back up again. Several of them report their latest quarterly results this week. The S&P 500 climbed 0.4%, even though slightly more stocks fell than rose within the index. The Dow ended lower, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose. Traders are keeping a wary eye on rising coronavirus infections in various countries and a bumpy rollout of vaccinations in the U.S. The stock of GameStop, a money-losing video game retailer, went on another wild ride.

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Twitter launches crowd-sourced fact-checking project

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter is enlisting its users to help combat misinformation on its service by flagging and notating misleading and false tweets. The pilot program, called Birdwatch, allows a preselected group of users who sign up through Twitter. People who want to sign up must have a U.S.-based phone carrier, verified email and phone number and no recent Twitter rule violations. Twitter says it wants both experts and non-experts to write Birdwatch notes. Twitter, along with other social media companies, has been grappling how best to combat misinformation on its service. Despite tightened rules and enforcement, falsehoods about the U.S. presidential election and the coronavirus continue to spread.

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The S&P 500 rose 13.89 points, or 0.4%, to 3,855.36. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 36.98, or 0.1%, to 30,960.00. The Nasdaq composite rose 92.93, or 0.7%, to 13,635.99. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks fell 5.49, or 0.3%, to 2,163.27.

The Associated Press

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