Business Highlights News Staff

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GameStop soars again; Wall Street bends under the pressure

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks sank again as a speculative frenzy over GameStop and a handful of other stocks ramps up worries over how much damage an online revolt against Wall Street bigwigs can do to the broader market. The S&P 500 fell 1.9%, giving the index its biggest weekly loss since October. GameStop soared nearly 70% Friday, continuing a saga that’s captivated and confused many on Wall Street and beyond. Calls for regulators to step in, meanwhile, grew louder. GameStop and other downtrodden stocks have become battlegrounds where swarms of smaller investors see themselves making an epic stand against financial elites who bet the stocks would fall.

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Biden warns of growing cost of delay on $1.9T econ aid plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is warning of a growing “cost of inaction” on his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. And the White House says the new administration is searching for “creative” ways to garner public support for a package that has gotten a cold shoulder from Senate Republicans. In the age of COVID, it’s not a matter of jumping on a plane to travel the country and try to gin up a groundswell. And at a time of deep polarization, Biden may struggle to convince Republican voters of the urgency at this particular moment after Congress already has approved $4 trillion in aid, including $900 billion last month.

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US consumer spending fell 0.2% in December in face of virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers slowed their spending by 0.2% in December, cutting back for a second straight month in a worrisome sign for an economy struggling under the weight of a still out-of-control pandemic. The decline reported Friday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 0.7% drop in November. It was the latest sign that consumers, whose spending is the primary driver of the U.S. economy, are hunkered down and avoiding travelling, shopping and dining out. Since making a brief bounce-back from the viral pandemic last spring, consumer spending has barely grown. Sales at retailers have declined for three straight months.

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A new stage: Dr Martens valued at $5 billion in share sale

LONDON (AP) — The Dr. Martens footwear company is set to list on the London Stock Exchange for the first time next week. Shares in the company, which pioneered the air-cushioned sole, will go on public sale on Wednesday in a flotation that values the shoe brand at around 3.7 billion pounds ($5 billion). Around 35% of the business will be available for investors to buy and sell. The company aims to use the anticipated proceeds from the sale to expand the brand, which is currently owned by private equity firm Permira. Dr Martens boots are already sold in more than 60 countries, and customers buy around 11 million pairs every year. However the brand sees room for further expansion.

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US contract signings to buy homes hits record for December

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes declined slightly for the fourth straight month, but it was still a record high for December. The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its index of pending sales dipped 0.3% to 125.5 in December, an all-time high. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001. It was the fourth straight monthly decline, but contracts signings last month were up 21.4% over December 2019. Contract signings are considered a barometer of finalized purchases over the next one to two months.

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China’s HNA Group says creditors want it declared bankrupt

BEIJING (AP) — HNA Group, a debt-burdened Chinese airline operator that faced opposition in Washington to its attempt to buy a Wall Street hedge fund during a costly global acquisition spree, says its creditors have asked a court to declare the company bankrupt. HNA said it would co-operate with the court and “actively promote debt disposal.” It gave no details of the company’s status or an indication whether the court agreed to the petition. HNA, which began as a one-plane airline in 1993, was struggling with $75 billion in debt when last year’s shutdown of global travel to fight the coronavirus pandemic devastated its core aviation business.

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Report: Mexican economy shrinks 8.5% in 2020

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s pandemic-hit economy shrank 8.5% in 2020, the largest single-year drop since 1932 and the second consecutive year of economic contraction. Mexico’s gross domestic product grew 3.1% in the final three months of the year, according to preliminary data released Friday by the National Statistics and Geography Institute. Growth in the second half of 2020 allowed Mexico to beat projections earlier in the year of a double-digit contraction. The second trimester of the year when the pandemic took hold and much economic activity was frozen saw a contraction of 18.7% compared to the same period a year earlier.

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The S&P 500 fell 73.14 points, or 1.9%, to 3,714.24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 620.74 points, or 2%, to 29,982.62, while Nasdaq composite slid 266.46 points, or 2%, to 13,070.69. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 32.97 points, or 1.6%, to 2,073.64.

The Associated Press

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