Business Highlights News Staff

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Senate confirms Raimondo as Biden commerce secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary and help guide the economy’s recovery during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Raimondo will be responsible for promoting the nation’s economic growth domestically and overseas. Republican opposition to her confirmation focused on their concerns that she would not be forceful enough in confronting the Chinese government’s efforts to gain an economic and technological edge through espionage. Supporters say they like her private sector experience.

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Biden’s pick for SEC flags trading app gimmicks for scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission has told Congress that the agency should address how to protect investors who use online stock-trading platforms with flashy gimmicks that entice them to trade more. Gary Gensler testified by video Tuesday for his confirmation hearing by the Senate Banking Committee. He was asked about the roiling stock-trading drama involving GameStop shares that has spurred clamour for tighter regulation of Wall Street. Among the issues to be examined, he said, is the use of “behavioural” technology in stock-trading apps. He asked: “What does it mean when you have behavioural prompts to get investors to do more transactions?”

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Biden vows enough vaccine for all US adults by end of May

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden says the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adult Americans by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved shot. The announcement comes as the White House looks to speed the production of the single-dose J&J vaccine and accelerate the nation’s plans to reach “herd immunity” in the U.S. and begin restoring normalcy after the pandemic. Biden also says he will be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers.

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Goodbye gas: Volvo to make only electric vehicles by 2030

NEW YORK (AP) — Volvo says it will make only electric vehicles by 2030. But if you want one, you’ll have to buy it online. The Swedish automaker said Tuesday that it is phasing out the production of all cars with internal combustion engines — including hybrids. Volvo’s announcement follows General Motors’ pledge earlier this year to make only battery-powered vehicles by 2035. As part of the announcement Tuesday, Volvo will unveil its second fully electric car, a follow-up to last year’s XC40 Recharge. Automakers around the world are ramping up production of electric vehicles as charging technology improves and governments impose stricter pollution regulations.

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Pandemic loan program at high-risk for fraud, auditor finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — Emergency loans made to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic have been added to the list of government programs considered at high risk of waste, fraud or mismanagement. The most common of those emergency loans, PPP loans, are provided at a low interest rate and can be fully forgivable if a certain percentage is spent on payroll costs. The loans have proven popular as businesses that rely on foot traffic try to survive the pandemic. The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that millions of small businesses benefitted from the program, but the speed with which the programs were set up limited safeguards necessary to identify risks including potential fraud.

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Hertz eyes bankruptcy exit through $4.2 billion stake sale

NEW YORK (AP) — In a deal to jettison itself from under bankruptcy protection, Hertz says it may sell a controlling stake in the rental car company to two investment firms for $4.2 billion. Hertz was among the first major corporations to be felled by the pandemic last year as infections surged and shut down travel on a global scale. The Florida company filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020. Under the agreement announced Tuesday, Knighthead Capital Management and Certares Opportunities will have the chance to buy the entire company, but no less than a majority of its shares.

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Target powers through a pandemic; 2020 sales growth explodes

NEW YORK (AP) — Target will plow $4 billion into its business each year for the next several years to redo its stores and add new ones as well as speed up its delivery network. The moves come as the Minneapolis-based discounter extended its sales streak through the holiday quarter and sales grew by more than $15 billion. That exceeded the company’s annual sales growth over the past 11 years combined.

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Stocks drift lower on Wall Street; yields continue to ease

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed lower on Wall Street after a wobbly day, giving back some of their big gains from a day earlier. The S&P 500 lost 0.8% Tuesday after flipping between small gains and losses throughout the day. A day before, it leaped 2.4% for its best performance since June. For weeks, investors’ focus has been fixed on the bond market, where a swift recent rise in interest rates is threatening one of the main reasons for the stock market’s run to records through the pandemic. The yield on the 10-year Treasury eased a bit to 1.41%.

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The S&P 500 fell 31.53 points, or 0.8%, to 3,870.29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 143.99 points, or 0.5%, to 31,391.52. The Nasdaq composite dropped 230.04 points, or 1.7%, to 13,358.79. The Russell 2000 small-cap index gave up 43.81 points, or 1.9%, to 2,231.51.

The Associated Press

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