Update on the latest in business:


Stocks broadly higher

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are climbing on Wall Street as Wall Street recovers some of its sharp sell-off from last week.

The S&P was higher in afternoon trading after more companies reported stronger profits for the summer than Wall Street feared and reports on manufacturing came in better than expected. The Dow and the Nasdaq are also higher.

The rally came on the heels of gains for European and Asian stocks following their own better-than-expected economic data.

In addition to tomorrow’s election and fears of a virus spike, it will be an incredibly busy week for the markets. The Federal Reserve announces its latest decision on interest rates Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department will release its market-moving monthly jobs report on Friday and through the week, roughly 130 companies in the S&P are scheduled to report their results for the summer.


Manufacturing posted strong gains

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing posted a strong gain in October to the highest level in two years even as coronavirus cases were beginning to surge again in many parts of the country. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said today that its manufacturing index rose by 3.9 percentage-points to a reading of 59.3% last month, up from 55.4% in September.

It was the highest level for this closely watched barometer of manufacturing health since September 2018. Any reading above 50 signals that manufacturing is expanding.

Of the 18 industries covered in the report, 15 reported expansion in October with strong growth in fabricated metals, food and beverages, chemicals and computers and electronics.


Construction spending rose .03%

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. construction spending rose 0.3% in September, the fourth straight monthly gain.. The Commerce Department reported that the September gain followed a revised gain of 1.3% in August.

Spending on residential construction was strong yet again, with single-family home projects jumping 5.7%. Demand for single-family homes remains healthy as buyers rush to the market pushed by historically low interest rates under 3%. A lack of existing homes for sale has builders rushing to fill the void with newly-constructed houses.

Total residential construction was up 2.7%, while government construction spending fell 1.7%.


Two mall operators file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (AP) — Two mall operators filed for bankruptcy protection Monday. Both were hurt by the coronavirus pandemic that has forced their tenants to permanently close stores or not pay rent.

CBL and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust said their malls will remain open as they go through the bankruptcy process. Even before the virus, malls have struggled to attract shoppers who are increasingly shopping online or elsewhere. But the pandemic has forced malls to temporarily close for months.

Like other malls looking to attract shoppers, PREIT has added restaurants, movie theaters and gyms to its malls in recent years, which now account for about 24% of its tenants. But those establishments have been hit even harder by the pandemic and have stricter rules on how many people can visit.

Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, CBL operates 107 malls across the U.S., including EastGate Mall in Cincinnati. Philadelphia-based PREIT has more than 20 properties, including Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey.


Friendly’s files for Chapter 11

WILBRAHAM, Mass. (AP) — Friendly’s Restaurants is filing for bankruptcy protection. All 130 of its locations will remain open while it restructures under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Substantially all of its assets are being sold to the restaurant company, Amici Partners Group.

At least 10 chains have filed for bankruptcy protection since the pandemic began this year.

Traffic at full-service restaurant chains in the U.S. plummeted 48% in the April-June period, according to NPD Group. Visits were down 25% in the June-September period, as restrictions were eased in some parts of the country.


McDonald’s hires new diversity officer

UNDATED (AP) — McDonald’s is hiring a new chief diversity officer as it struggles with charges of harassment and racism at all levels of the company. Reginald Miller will become the company’s global chief diversity equity and inclusion officer next week.

McDonald’s is facing charges of racism across its system. In January, two Black McDonald’s executives sued the company, claiming McDonald’s shifted advertising away from Black customers, graded Black-owned stores more harshly than white ones and implemented business plans that had a discriminatory impact on Black franchisees.

Chicago-based McDonald’s fired its former CEO Steve Easterbrook last November after he admitted sending explicit text messages to an employee.

At least 50 workers have filed separate sexual harassment charges against McDonald’s with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or in state courts over the past four years.


South African firm and Johnson & Johnson strike vaccine deal

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare has announced a deal with U.S. firm Johnson & Johnson to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, if it is approved in South Africa and internationally.

Aspen said today, that if ongoing trials bring international health authorities to endorse the J&J vaccine as effective and safe, it would be produced at Aspen’s manufacturing facility in Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

The company said the facility has a capacity to manufacture more than 300 million doses of the vaccine a year.

Johnson & Johnson’s test vaccine, Ad26.COV3-S, is one of four different vaccines currently undergoing clinical trials in South Africa.

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