Business Highlights News Staff

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Countries urge drug companies to share vaccine know-how

PARIS (AP) — The new head of the World Trade Organization is joining calls for pharmaceutical companies to share their coronavirus vaccine know-how and technology more broadly in the developing world. The comments today are part of a growing demand for what many say is the only way to meet a huge global shortfall in a pandemic that already has claimed over 2.5 million lives. Pharmaceutical companies that took taxpayer money from the U.S. or Europe to develop inoculations at unprecedented speed say they need to move carefully to protect their intellectual property for future medical advances and for safety.

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Minimum wage hike all but dead in Senate virus relief bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats’ efforts to include a minimum wage increase in their huge COVID-19 relief bill seem all but dead. That’s become clear as Senate leaders prepare to bring their own version of the House-passed aid package to the chamber’s floor as early as Wednesday. Aides say top Democrats have abandoned a potential amendment threatening tax increases on big companies that don’t boost workers’ pay to certain levels. Four days ago the Senate parliamentarian said the chamber’s rules forbade inclusion of a straight-out minimum wage increase in the relief measure. For now, Democrats seemed to have exhausted their most realistic options for quickly salvaging the pay hike.

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Stocks rally on Wall Street, S&P 500 has best day since June

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rallied on Wall Street, pushing the S&P 500 to its biggest gain in nine months. The 2.4% jump in the benchmark index Monday followed back-to-back weekly losses and came as investors were relieved to see long-term interest rates easing lower in the bond market. Higher interest rates can slow down economic growth and discourage borrowing. Investors were also watching Washington as a big economic stimulus bill advanced to the Senate. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.43% after reaching its highest level in more than a year last week. Technology stocks and smaller companies led the way higher.

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Europeans get ‘right to repair’ for some electrical goods

BERLIN (AP) — Companies that sell refrigerators, washers, hairdryers or TVs in the European Union will need to ensure those appliances can be repaired for up to 10 years. The new “right to repair” comes into force across the 27-nation bloc Monday. It is part of a broader effort to cut the environmental footprint of manufactured goods by making them more durable and energy efficient. Consumer groups say modern appliances are often hard to dismantle and spare parts aren’t always available. Under the new EU rules, manufacturers will have to make parts available for up to a decade, ensure appliances can be opened without special tools and provide repair manuals. Campaigners want the “right to repair” to be extended in future to include smartphones, laptops and other small electrical devices.

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Biden says workers in Alabama have a right to vote on union

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden said workers in Alabama and across the country have the right to join a union without intimidation from their companies. His comments come as Amazon workers in the state are voting on whether they should unionize. In a two-minute video posted to Twitter, Biden didn’t mention Amazon by name, or say how workers should vote. The union push in Bessemer, Alabama, is the biggest in Amazon’s nearly 30-year history.

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AI panel urges US to boost tech skills amid China’s rise

WASHINGTON (AP) — An artificial intelligence commission led by Google’s former CEO told Congress on Monday that the U.S. must boost its AI skills to counter China, including by pursuing “AI-enabled” weapons. Google’s ex-CEO Eric Schmidt and current executives from Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Amazon are among the 15 members of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which released its final report Monday. The report says that machines that can “perceive, decide, and act more quickly” than humans and with more accuracy are going to be deployed for military purposes — with or without the involvement of the U.S. and other democracies.

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Zoom posts big quarter even as subscriber growth slows

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Zoom’s astronomical growth is tapering off along with the pandemic. That’s raising questions about whether the videoconferencing service’s immense popularity will fade as more people return to classrooms, offices and other places off limits for the past year. The deceleration emerged in an otherwise impressive quarterly earnings report released Monday. The stellar results capped a year in which Zoom saw its revenue quadruple and its stock price increase by more than fivefold. But Zoom’s subscriber gains were significantly smaller than in the previous three quarters during the pandemic. Those concerns have caused Zoom’s stock to fall by 30% from its peak, though its shares rallied Monday.

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The S&P 500 rose 90.67 points, or 2.4%, to 3,901.82. The Dow gained 603.14 points, or about 2%, to 31,535.51. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 396.48 points, or 3%, to 13,588.83. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 74.27 points, or 3.4%, to 2,275.32.

The Associated Press

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