Stocks edge lower after S&P 500 winning streak ends
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are edging lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street after giving up an early gain. The tentative market moves came a day after the S&P 500 ended a six-day winning streak. A report showing that inflation remained tame last month was encouraging for investors because it suggested the U.S. economy is in a strong position to receive more stimulus without overheating. The yield on the U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.14% after being as high as 1.20% earlier this week. Twitter and Under Armour both rose sharply after reporting earnings that were much better than analysts were expecting. Energy stocks made gains.
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US consumer prices up 0.3% in January, led by energy spike
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3% in January, led by a surge in energy. But even though the gain was the biggest monthly increase since July, inflation gains over the past year have remained modest.The Labor Department reported Wednesday that the January rise in consumer prices followed 0.2% gains in both November and December and was the sharpest jump since prices rose 0.5% in July, a month when the country was re-opening following the coronavirus lockdowns in the spring. Over the past year, inflation is up a modest 1.4%. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, is also up 1.4% with core prices unchanged in January. Energy costs jumped 3.5%, led by a 7.4% surge in gasoline. Even with the spike, gasoline prices are 8.7% below where they were a year ago.
GM 2020 profit drops, but it makes $6.43B despite pandemic
DETROIT (AP) — General Motors’ net profit fell 4.5% in 2020, but a strong second half more than offset the effects of pandemic-related factory closures and a costly air bag recall. The Detroit automaker says it made $6.43 billion as demand for its vehicles surged late in a year dominated by coronavirus upheaval. In the fourth quarter, the company earned $2.85 billion. After GM’s North American factories reopened in May, the company ran many flat-out but couldn’t make up all the lost production. As customers returned to buying again, inventory was short and GM’s U.S. sales for the year fell 12% from 2019. But because buyers bought more expensive trucks and SUVs and loaded them with options, the company was able to turn the big profit.
Resurgent virus slows recovery at Coca-Cola
ATLANTA (AP) — A resurgent coronavirus slowed Coca-Cola’s recovery in the fourth quarter, and the company said the slump has continued into this year. But the Atlanta-based beverage giant said it’s confident it will see improvement as vaccines roll out around the world and it delivers new products in fast-growing categories, like an updated version of Coke Zero Sugar and Topo Chico Hard Seltzer. Coke says it expects 2021 earnings to match or exceed those in 2019. In the fourth quarter, Coke’s net revenue fell 5% to $8.6 billion. Adjusted earnings of 47 cents per share beat Wall Street’s forecast.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TWO MASKS
CDC study finds two masks are better than one vs. COVID-19
NEW YORK (AP) — A new government study finds that wearing two masks can be better than one in protecting against coronavirus spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the results of a lab experiment. The researchers found particles were blocked twice as much when two masks were worn. The CDC says a cloth mask worn over a surgical mask can tighten the gaps around the mask’s edges that can let virus particles in. The researchers found wearing one mask blocked around 40% of the particles coming in during an experiment. When a cloth mask was worn on top of a surgical mask, about 80% of particles were blocked. The U.S. leads the world with 2.7 million confirmed cases and more than 468,000 confirmed deaths.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-AP POLL
AP-NORC poll: A third of US adults skeptical of COVID shots
NEW YORK (AP) — About 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s according to a new poll that some experts say is discouraging news if the U.S. hopes to achieve herd immunity and vanquish the outbreak. The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that while 67% of Americans plan to get vaccinated or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t and 17% say probably not. Many expressed doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, even though few if any serious side effects have turned up more than a month and a half into the vaccination drive.
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EU chief: Bloc was late, over-confident on vaccine rollout
BRUSSELS (AP) — As the European Union surpassed the shocking toll of 500,000 people lost to the virus, the EU Commission chief said Wednesday that the bloc’s much-criticized vaccine rollout could be partly blamed on the EU being over-optimistic, over-confident and plainly “too late.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen defended the EU’s overall approach to beat the pandemic with all 27 nations together, even if she admitted to mistakes in the strategy to quickly obtain sufficient vaccines for the bloc’s 447 million citizens. She said the EU would launch a clinical trial network and adapt the approval process to be faster.
AstraZeneca, German firm to try speeding vaccine delivery
LONDON (AP) — Drugmaker AstraZeneca says it will work with German firm IDT Biologika to increase shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union this spring following a heated dispute with the bloc over delayed vaccine deliveries. The Anglo-Swedish company said Wednesday that the two companies were “exploring options” to accelerate production of the vaccine in the second quarter of this year. AstraZeneca is already involved in the production of vaccines with IDT. In the longer term, AstraZeneca also plans a joint investment to expand IDT Biologika’s plant in Dessau, Germany, by building up to five 2,000-liter bioreactors capable of making tens of millions of doses of vaccine each month, the companies said.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHICAGO SCHOOLS
Union approves deal with Chicago schools to return to class
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Teachers Union has approved a deal with the nation’s third-largest school district to get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic. The union’s roughly 25,000 members announced the vote early Wednesday, ending the possibility of a teacher lockout or strike. The agreement comes after months of negotiations and includes plans for more teacher vaccinations and metrics to allow school closures if COVID-19 infections spike. The first wave of students are due back Thursday. Other students in K-8 will return in the coming weeks for limited classroom instruction. No plans have been set for high school students to return. They will continue remote instruction.
SMALL BUSINESS STRUGGLES-NEW ORLEANS
Virus dims Carnival joy and commerce on a New Orleans street
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic is tamping down the joy — and the revenue — associated with the Carnival season in New Orleans. Parades that normally draw thousands in the weeks before Mardi Gras have been canceled. Bars and restaurants that usually overflow with free-spending customers are closed or operating at limited capacity. Live music is all but dead. Many small business owners have weathered a lot already. Even as vaccinations ramp up, they’re preparing for a long wait before business gets back to normal. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, falls on Feb. 16 this year.
Shaq’s historic Atlanta Krispy Kreme damaged by raging fire
ATLANTA (AP) — A historic Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store in Atlanta was engulfed in flames early Wednesday. The store owned by Basketball Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal was significantly damaged. Flames were billowing as Atlanta fire crews were called to the restaurant on Ponce de Leon around 12:30 a.m. Battalion Chief Douglas Hatcher says it started in the back and firefighters were able to save most of the building. No injuries were reported. Hatcher says the cause of the fire was under investigation. The Midtown Krispy Kreme opened in 1965. O’Neal is vowing to “bounce back better than ever.”
PHILANTHROPY-TOP 50 DONORS OF 2020
Bezos tops list of US charity donors for 2020
UNDATED (AP) — America’s 50 top donors in 2020 channeled big sums to food banks, COVID-19 relief and racial justice efforts. As the world grappled with COVID, a recession, and a racial reckoning, the ultrawealthy gave to a broader set of causes than ever before — bestowing multimillion-dollar gifts on food pantries, historically Black colleges and universities, and organizations that serve the poor and the homeless, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual rankings of the 50 Americans who gave the most to charity last year.
Jeff Bezos topped the list by donating $10 billion to launch the Bezos Earth Fund. Bezos, who last week announced he was stepping down as Amazon CEO to devote more time to philanthropy and other projects, also contributed $100 million to Feeding America, the organization that supplies more than 200 food banks.
No. 2 on the list was Bezos’s ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, who gave $5.7 billion in 2020 by asking community leaders to help identify 512 organizations for seven- and eight-figure gifts, including food banks, human-service organizations, and racial-justice charities.
The No. 3 donor was Michael Bloomberg, who contributed $1.6 billion to arts, education, public health, and many other causes. Nike founder Phil and Penelope Knight were next, donating $1.4 billion, $900.7 million of it to their Knight Foundation.
Another donor who gave big to pandemic causes and racial-justice efforts was Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, who ranked No. 5. He put $1.1 billion into a fund that by year’s end had distributed at least $330 million to more than 100 nonprofits.
Clark to become first female CEO of US Chamber of Commerce
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has appointed Suzanne Clark as its next CEO, the first woman to hold the position.
Clark, who’s currently president of the U.S. Chamber, will succeed Thomas J. Donohue. The position is effective on March 11.
Clark was named president in June 2019. She serves on the boards of agricultural equipment maker AGCO and TransUnion, a global risk and credit information provider.
Donohue served as CEO of the U.S. Chamber for 24 years.
The Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
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