Update on the latest in business:


Wall Street hits records amid profit reports, DC changeover

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are rallying to records on encouraging earnings reports and continued optimism that new leadership in Washington will mean more support for the struggling economy.

The S&P 500 was 1.3% higher in afternoon trading and topped the record closing level it set earlier this month.

Joe Biden took the oath of office to become U.S. president, and he has already pitched a $1.9 trillion plan for the struggling economy. The hope is that such stimulus will help carry the economy until COVID-19 vaccinations get daily life closer to normal later this year.


Work on Keystone XL pipeline suspended ahead of Biden action

TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline says it has suspended work on the pipeline in in anticipation of incoming U.S. President Joe Biden revoking its permit.

Biden’s Day One plans included moving to revoke a presidential permit for the pipeline.

The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The company said Wednesday it will “review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options.” But it said the project will be suspended.


UnitedHealth overcomes pandemic hit and tops 4Q expectations

UNDATED (AP) — UnitedHealth’s fourth-quarter earnings tumbled as costs from COVID-19 hit the health insurance provider, but results still easily beat expectations.

Health care use rebounded in the final quarter of 2020 after the global pandemic kept people away from doctor offices and surgery centers when it first spread earlier last year.

UnitedHealth also said Wednesday that its insurance business spent more in the fourth quarter covering COVID-19 testing and treatment. Medical costs, by far the company’s largest expense, jumped 7% to more than $42 billion.

UnitedHealth also reaffirmed its forecast for 2021 earnings, which it first announced in December.


Morgan Stanley profits rise 48%, helped by strong markets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Morgan Stanley saw its fourth-quarter profits surge 48% from a year earlier, as the Wall Street bank benefited from the market’s upward swing and investors jubilation for tech stocks and IPOs late last year.

The New York-based firm earned $3.39 billion, or $1.81 a share, up from a profit of $2.31 billion, or $1.30 a share, in the same period a year earlier.

The results were significantly better than the per-share earnings of $1.30 that analysts had expected, according to FactSet.


US probes complaints that Ford tailgate recall didn’t work

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that a Ford pickup truck tailgate recall didn’t fix the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has 11 complaints that a recall of power tailgates on 300,000 Super Duty pickups didn’t work. Ford recalled the F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks in 2019 because the power tailgates could open while being driven. That could let unrestrained cargo fall out. The trucks are from the 2017 through 2020 model years.

The agency says it also has received reports from Ford about unintended tailgate openings after recall repairs were made.


Pardon for former Google engineer who stole trade secrets

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump has pardoned a former Google engineer who plead guilty to stealing trade secrets before joining Uber’s effort to build robotic vehicles for its ride-hailing service.

Anthony Levandowski was among the more than 140 people included in a flurry of clemency action in the final hours of Trump’s White House term. Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison in August. He was also ordered to pay more than $850,000.


EU fines video game firms for blocking cross-border sales

LONDON (AP) — The European Union has issued fines to a U.S. video game platform and five game makers after they blocked players from buying cheaper copies of the games in other countries.

The EU’s executive Commission said Wednesday that it fined Valve and the game makers a total of 7.8 million euros because they restricted cross-border sales in violation of the bloc’s antitrust rules. It said the companies used so-called geo-blocking practices to prevent players from activating and playing games sold either on DVD or by download.

Valve owns the Steam online PC game distribution platform.

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