Business Highlights News Staff

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Jump in hiring fuels optimism for US economic recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a surprisingly robust 379,000 jobs last month, a sign the economy is strengthening as virus cases drop, vaccinations ramp up, Americans spend more and states ease business restrictions. The February gain marked a pickup from the 166,000 jobs added in January and a loss of 306,000 in December. Yet it represents just a fraction of the 10 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic. The unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, the Labor Department said Friday in its monthly jobs report.

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Tech rebound pulls stocks out of a slump and to weekly gain

A late-day rebound in technology companies pulled the stock market out of a slump and helped give the S&P 500 its first weekly gain in three weeks. The index rose 2% Friday. Investors were encouraged by a government report that U.S. employers picked up the pace of hiring last month. However they were also still anxious over a recent surge in long-term interest rates in the bond market, which can slow the economy and discourage borrowing. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note pulled back from a midday spike and wound up at 1.56%, only slightly higher than a day earlier.

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US trade deficit up 1.9% in January on record goods imports

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. imports of goods broke a record in January pushing the trade deficit 1.9% higher, even as the coronavirus pandemic continued to disrupt global commerce. The gap between the goods and services the United States sold and what it bought abroad rose to $68.2 billion from $67 billion in December, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Exports rose 1% to $191.9 billion, while imports increased 1.2% to $260.2 billion. Imports of goods increased $3.4 billion to a record $221.1 billion in January, led by pharmaceuticals, which rose $5 billion, or 39%, to $17.4 billion.

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Exam finds multiple cracks in part of United jet’s engine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal safety officials are updating their investigation into the engine failure on a United Airlines plane that sent parts of the engine housing raining down on Denver-area neighbourhoods last month. The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that a microscopic exam confirmed that a fan blade that snapped off had telltale signs of fatigue — tiny cracks caused by wear and tear. The safety board says the engine had been used on nearly 3,000 flights since its last inspection. After the Feb. 22 incident, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered that certain blades on the same model of engine be inspected for cracks before their next flight.

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Credit card borrowing falls to lowest in level in 4 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Borrowing by Americans fell in January for the first time in five months, as the use of credit cards fell to the lowest level in four years, offsetting gains in auto loans and student loans. The Federal Reserve reported Friday that consumer borrowing fell by $1.3 billion in January, the first setback since a $9 billion decline in August. The weakness came from a $9.9 billion decline in borrowing in the category that covers credit cards. It pushed credit card activity down to the lowest level since January 2017. Consumer borrowing is closely watched for indications about Americans’ willingness to take on more debt to finance their spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

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Airline IT provider hacked, frequent flyer data breached

BOSTON (AP) — A company that manages ticket-processing and frequent flier data for major global airlines has exposed the personal data of an unspecified number of travellers. Geneva-based SITA says the hackers were inside servers for up to a month before the incident’s seriousness was confirmed on Feb. 24. SITA would not say how many airlines were affected. The company says it serves more than 400 airlines.

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Boeing CEO waived pay but got compensation worth $21 million

CHICAGO (AP) — The CEO of Boeing gave up his salary for most of last year, but he still got stock benefits that push the value of his compensation to more than $21 million. That’s according to a filing Boeing made Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Boeing had a bad year in 2020. The company lost nearly $12 billion as its bestselling plane, the 737 Max, was grounded most of the year, and the pandemic hurt demand for new planes. Calhoun’s 2020 compensation includes the rights eventually to $7 million in stock for returning the Max to service after two crashes that killed 346 people.

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Dems draw on civil rights history to push Amazon union vote

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) —Some Democratic members of Congress and national union leaders have gathered, seeking to build support for unionizing a massive Amazon facility outside Birmingham, Alabama. Mail voting by about 6,000 workers at the distribution facility began in February and concludes at the end of March. It’s the largest organizing attempt in the history of Amazon, the nation’s second-largest employer. The company says workers already get what they’d seek with a union: benefits, career growth and $15-an-hour starting pay.

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The S&P 500 rose 73.47 points or 2%, to 3,841.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 572.16 points, or 1.9%, to 31,496.30. The Nasdaq composite climbed 196.68 points, or 1.6%, to 12,920.15. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 45.29 points, or 2.1%, to 2,192.21.

The Associated Press

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