Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks move higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are heading higher on Wall Street as investors focus on the prospects for an economic recovery as more businesses reopen after being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 was up 0.8% Tuesday, extending gains from a day earlier. European markets were up even more. Bond yields rose slightly, a sign that investors were regaining confidence in the economy.

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Asian markets overcame some early turbulence caused by reported comments by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro suggesting the U.S. trade deal with China was in trouble. President Donald Trump later said the agreement was still on.

NEW HOME SALES

Sales surprisingly strong

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes rose a surprisingly strong 16.6% in May suggesting that the reopening of major parts of the country were giving a boost to the housing market.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that sales of new single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000 last month. That was a much better performance than expected. Many economists had forecast that sales would fall in May.

The report on new home sales followed a report Monday that sales of existing homes plunged 9.7% in May to an annual rate of 3.91 million, the slowest pace in nearly a decade.

VIRUS-FAUCI-VACCINE

Fauci says any vaccine must first be proven safe and effective

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci has told members of Congress that the the U.S. needs to be careful to establish the safety and effectiveness of any potential coronavirus vaccine before rushing into production and distribution.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn are testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Hahn seconded Fauci’s view Tuesday, saying the FDA would not cut corners on safety and effectiveness when considering whether to approve a vaccine.

Fauci says he’d be “very disappointed if we jumped to a conclusion before we know a vaccine was truly safe and effective.”

He says a move like that would only create “perpetual ambiguity.”

Fauci said he thinks a coronavirus vaccine could be available by the end of this year or early 2021. One vaccine candidate will enter advanced trials next month.

VIRUS-BRITAIN

British lockdown restrictions will ease

LONDON (AP) — Millions of people in Britain will be able to go to the pub, visit a movie theater, get a haircut or attend a religious service starting July 4, but they will have to wait to see a concert, get a tattoo or go to the gym.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major loosening of coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Tuesday that will allows a swath of businesses to reopen. They include restaurants, bars, hotels, hairdressers, cinemas and museums.

Places of worship can hold services, but choirs and congregations won’t be permitted to sing since the virus can spread through open mouths. Live music and theater performances are remaining off-limits for the same reason.

Indoor gyms, pools, spas and tattoo parlors also have to stay shut for now.

The government also announced that social-distancing rules will be relaxed. From July 4 people will be advised to stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) apart, rather than 2 meters — as long as they take other measures to reduce transmission of the virus, such as wearing a mask in enclosed spaces.

The changes only apply in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all following slightly different measures.

VIRUS-JAPAN THEME PARKS

Two theme parks to reopen, but no touching the characters

TOKYO (AP) — he company that owns Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea say the two theme parks will reopen on July 1 after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus but there will be no hugging or touching Mickey Mouse and other characters.

Oriental Land Co. said in a statement issued Tuesday that the two theme parks near Tokyo to protect public health. It says the number of visitors allowed in at once will be reduced and individuals will be asked to get their temperature checks, to wear face masks and to disinfect their hands.

Some rides and facilities will be closed and performances such as fireworks will be canceled, the company said. Visitors are also requested to buy fixed-date tickets online in advance.

Employees who perform as Disney character won’t do shows or greet people in a way that involves touching.

Other theme parks in Japan have gradually reopened recently, including Universal Studios Japan in Osaka reopened this month.

GAS EXPLOSIONS

Utility ordered to pay $53 million fine for blasts

BOSTON (AP) — A utility company was ordered Tuesday to pay a $53 million criminal fine for causing a series of natural gas explosions in Massachusetts that killed one person and damaged dozens of homes.

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts was sentenced more than three months after the company pleaded guilty in federal court to causing the blasts that rocked three communities north of Boston in September 2018.

As part of the plea agreement, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts will pay a $53 million fine for violating the Pipeline Safety Act. It’s the largest criminal fine ever imposed under the pipeline safety law.

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts has said it takes full responsibility for the disaster.

GERMANY-WIRECARD

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors say the former CEO of financial technology company Wirecard has been arrested on suspicion of misrepresenting the firm’s finances.

The arrest is part of an accounting scandal that centers on a missing $2.1 billion.

Markus Braun resigned on Friday after the company disclosed that auditors couldn’t find accounts containing the money. On Monday, Wirecard said it had concluded that the money probably doesn’t exist.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that a court issued an arrest warrant shortly afterward and Braun turned himself in on Monday evening. A judge on Tuesday ordered him released on conditions that include a bail of $5.7 million.

AMAZON-CARBON FOOTPRINT

Despite green pledges, Amazon’s carbon footprint grew 15%

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon said Tuesday that its carbon footprint rose 15% last year, even as it launched initiatives to reduce its harm on the environment.

The online shopping giant said it emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the equivalent of 13 coal-fired power plants running for a year.

Amazon disclosed its carbon footprint for the first time last year after employees pressured the company to do more to combat climate change.

Amazon said that while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 5% between 2018 and 2019.

STARBUCKS-IMPOSSIBLE SAUSAGE

Starbucks adds plant-based meat to US menu

UNDATED (AP) — Starbucks is adding plant-based meat to its U.S. menu for the first time.

The Seattle-based coffee chain says a breakfast sandwich made with imitation sausage from California-based Impossible Foods is now available at a majority of its U.S. restaurants. The sandwich comes with egg and cheese and is served on a ciabatta bun.

Starbucks said earlier this year it would add fake meat to its menus worldwide as part of an effort to reduce its environmental impact. In April, it began selling lasagna, pasta and wraps made with Beyond Meat crumbles in China. It also introduced a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich in Canada in February.

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