Business Highlights News Staff

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Automakers embrace electric vehicles. But what about buyers?

DETROIT (AP) — From small SUVs to giant pickup trucks, automakers plan to roll out 22 new electric vehicles in the U.S. this year. But battery powered automobiles are less than 2% of the nation’s new-vehicle sales. Polls show that the onslaught of new electric vehicles may be coming before consumer demand. Surveys by Consumer Reports and J.D. Power show that buyers think EV prices are too high, they can’t go far enough on a single charge, and there aren’t enough charging stations. Still, industry analysts predict big sales increases in a few years, helped by a variety of new models, government tax incentives and stronger fuel economy and pollution regulations.

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New challenge for the Powell Fed: A strengthening economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the past year, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has expressed a wish for more rescue spending from Congress, better control of the viral pandemic and clear evidence of an improving economy. He’s finally getting all three. Yet all of that hardly makes Powell’s job easier. At the Fed’s policy meeting this week and at a news conference to follow, the chair will take up a new challenge: Convincing financial markets that even as the economic picture brightens, the Fed will be able to continue providing support without contributing to high inflation.

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Pelosi pledges swift work on major infrastructure package

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pledging swift work by Congress on a job and infrastructure package that she says will be “fiscally sound.” But she’s not so sure whether the next major item on President Joe Biden’s agenda will attract Republican backing. Road- and bridge-building legislation has a long history of bipartisan support from lawmakers who need to deliver investments back home. But Republicans disagree with Biden’s focus on the environment and how to pay for any new infrastructure plan. On Sunday, Pelosi declined to say whether tax increases would be required. She said Congress will look at all revenue options, including bonds.

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Facebook to label vaccine posts to combat COVID-19 misinfo

LONDON (AP) — Facebook is adding informational labels to posts about vaccines as it expands efforts to counter COVID-19-related misinformation flourishing on its platforms. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post Monday that labels will contain “credible information” about the vaccines from the World Health Organization. The social network is also adding a tool to help get users vaccinated by connecting them to information about where and when they can get their shot. Facebook and Instagram have been criticized for allowing anti-vaccination propaganda to spread and for being woefully slow in weeding out the misinformation, often with fact-checks, labels and other restrained measures.

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US air travel rises to highest levels yet since pandemic hit

DALLAS (AP) — Air travel is gaining altitude. More than 1 million people have gone through U.S. airport checkpoints each of the last four days — it was more than 1.3 million on Sunday. That was the first time TSA screened more people than it did on the comparable day in 2020. However, travel is still down sharply from 2019, before the pandemic. Airline stocks are rising after several airlines report that they’ve seen more people booking trips in March. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian says bookings began picking up five or six weeks ago. The Delta CEO thinks that after some previous false starts, this time the recovery in travel is real.

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Stripe continues cash haul, now valued at $95 billion

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The online payment company Stripe continues to attract investors, raising $600 million in funding to reach a whopping company valuation of $95 billion. Stripe is by far the most valuable private fintech company in the world. Robinhood, the trading platform recently making headlines, just raised $3 billion to reach a valuation of around $11.2 billion. The company which makes software that allows companies to accept online or in person card payments said it will use the capital in the latest round of funding to invest in its European operations, particularly its Dublin headquarters. Stripe has two headquarters, the other location is in San Francisco.

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Brand firm takes controlling stake in Toys R Us parent

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York-based brand management firm that already owns Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud is taking a controlling stake in the parent company of the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands. WHP Global declined to offer the terms of the financial agreement in the deal with the iconic brands. Tru Kids was formed in January 2019 when it acquired Toys R Us’ intellectual property during its liquidation in 2018. The deal comes nearly two months after the only two Toys R Us stores that opened in November 2019 as part of a small U.S. comeback attempt by the iconic toy chain closed.

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The S&P 500 rose 25.60 points, or 0.7%, to 3,368.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 174.82 points, or 0.5%, to 32,953.46. The Nasdaq Composite added 139.84 points, or 1.1%, to 13,459.71, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 7.38 points, or 0.3%, to 2,360.17.

The Associated Press

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