Business Highlights News Staff

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A meagre gain in US jobs last month highlights virus’ damage

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers barely added jobs last month, underscoring the viral pandemic’s ongoing grip on the economy and likely adding momentum to the Biden administration’s push for a bold rescue aid package. The increase of just 49,000 positions in January made scarcely any dent in the nearly 10 million jobs that remain lost since the virus intensified nearly a year ago. The tepid increase followed a decline of 227,000 jobs in December, the first loss since April.

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A sexy Alexa, Dan Levy’s M&M habit: Super Bowl ads to watch

NEW YORK (AP) — It might not have seemed likely early in the pandemic, but the 55th Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. Each year advertisers pull out all the stops to entertain the 100 million viewers expected to tune in to the CBS broadcast on Sunday. This year there are more than 20 newcomers as well as old favourites. Amazon shows off a sexy new body for its Alexa assistant, Dan Levy apologizes for eating M&M’s and Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade makes a downpour of lemons a metaphor for 2020’s troubles. And as always, there are likely to be some surprises as well.

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Biden seeks to go big, fast and alone on COVID relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has laid out his case for moving fast and without Republicans — if necessary — to pass $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief. He’s armed with new signs of economic strain brought on by the continuing pandemic. The stakes for the county and economy were amplified on Friday morning with the release of January’s jobs report, which showed that hiring had stalled to a pace that could hinder a return to full employment for several years. Earlier in the day Senate Democrats cast a decisive vote to muscle the plan through the chamber without Republican support.

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S&P 500 climbs again, closing out best week since November

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed out a winning week with their fifth gain in a row Friday and their biggest weekly increase since November. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% and ended the week 4.6% higher. Small-company stocks rose far more than the rest of the market, a sign that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy. Treasury yields also rose. The market has been heading higher since the beginning of the month as hopes build that Washington will come through with more support for the economy, and that the steady rollout of vaccines will get the economy on a more even footing over time.

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U.S. trade deficit rises to 12-year high $679 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit rose 17.7% last year to $679 billion, highest since 2008, as the coronavirus disrupted global commerce and confounded then-President Donald Trump’s attempts to rebalance America’s trade with the rest of the world. The gap between the value of the goods and services the United States sells abroad and what it buys climbed from $577 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said Friday. Exports skidded 15.7% to $2.1 trillion, and imports fell 9.5% to $2.8 trillion. As president, Trump sought to narrow the gap by imposing taxes on imported goods on a scale unseen since the trade wars of the 1930s.

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China’s Luckin Coffee files for bankruptcy protection

NEW YORK (AP) — China’s Luckin Coffee has filed for bankruptcy protection. The Chinese rival to Starbucks said Friday that it is negotiating with stakeholders regarding the restructuring of its financial obligations, to strengthen its balance sheet and to allow it to emerge as a going concern. The company filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection, which allows a foreign company to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. court system. Luckin said its stores will remain open during its restructuring. The company made its debut on the U.S. stock market in May 2019. It had opened its first store in Beijing less than two years before that.

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South Korea’s trade minister drops bid to become WTO chief

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s top trade official is dropping her bid to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization, making it likely the job will go to former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said its minister for trade, Yoo Myung-hee, plans to tell the WTO she will withdraw her candidacy. Last October, the WTO announced Yoo and Okonjo-Iweala were the two finalists to become its next director-general, ensuring a woman will be in the top job for the first time.

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Canada blocks cruise ships for a year, ending Alaska trips

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Canadian government has extended a ban on cruise ships through February 2022, which is expected to block many ships from visiting Alaska this year. Transport Canada announced the extension of the ban enacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada blocked cruise ships of more than 100 passengers starting in spring 2020. The ban was set to expire at the end of February, but Transport Canada said “cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our health care systems.”

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The S&P 500 index rose 15.09 points, or 0.4%, to 3,886.83. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 92.38 points, or 0.3%, to 31,148.24. The Nasdaq rose 78.55 points, or 0.6%, to 13,856.30. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks climbed 30.91 points, or 1.4%, to 2,233.33.

The Associated Press

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