Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks mostly higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been modestly higher in afternoon trading, pushed by energy companies who have seen record electricity prices due to the frigid cold weather impacting much of the country.

Investors remain steadily focused on economic stimulus talks in Washington, which are marching forward now with former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial now over.

Safe-play sectors like real estate companies and utilities lagged the rest of the market as traders increased their appetite for risk. Treasury yields continued to climb, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 1.28%

BITCOIN-$50K

Cost of a single Bitcoin exceeds $50,000 for first time

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — After a wild week in which Bitcoin soared to new heights, Bitcoin is crossing the $50,000 mark.

Bitcoin rallied last week as more companies signaled the volatile digital currency could eventually gain widespread acceptance as a means of payment for goods and services. Bitcoin has been mostly seen as a store of value, like gold, with some limited merchants accepting it for payment. Last Monday, Elon Musk’s electric car company, Tesla, announced that it would soon accept it as payment for its high-end cars. But analysts predict a slow evolution toward widespread usage.

Bitcoin is up about 4% Tuesday.

BIDEN-HOUSING

Biden extends pandemic ban for homeowners; renters wait

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is extending a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30 to help homeowners struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

The moratorium on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages had been set to expire March 31. On his first day in office, Biden had extended the moratorium from Jan. 31. Census Bureau figures show that almost 12% of homeowners with mortgages were late on their payments.

The White House says the coordinated actions announced Tuesday by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture also will extend to June 30 the enrollment window for borrowers who want to request a pause or reduction in mortgage payments.

The actions don’t address a federal moratorium through March 31 on evictions of tenants who’ve fallen behind on rent.

CVS-RESULTS

CVS posts strong Q4 numbers, but pandemic weighs on results

UNDATED (AP) — CVS Health easily beat fourth-quarter expectations as revenue from COVID-19 testing and prescription growth helped counter hits from the on-going global pandemic.

But the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefit manager also released on Tuesday a 2021 forecast that largely fell below Wall Street expectations. Its shares slid in training after markets opened.

CVS Health drugstores have taken hits during the pandemic from fewer shoppers, and the company’s insurance business is seeing more COVID-19 claims. But CVS Health also is playing a growing role in COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration both in its stores and at long-term care locations.

McDONALD’S-OWNER-BIAS-LAWSUIT

Black franchise owner sues McDonald’s, cites persistent bias

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Black owner of 14 McDonald’s franchises in Ohio has sued the corporation in federal court asserting numerous instances of unfair treatment compared with white owners.

Herbert Washington in his lawsuit filed Tuesday says the Chicago-based company has steered him over the years into buying franchises in low-income, majority Black communities while denying him the chance to buy stores in more affluent white locations. More than 50 Black former McDonald’s franchise owners made similar claims in a lawsuit filed last September.

Washington was a college track star who played parts of two seasons with the Oakland Athletics in the mid-1970s.

OBIT-SORENSON

Marriott CEO Sorenson, 62, dies of pancreatic cancer

UNDATED (AP) — Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson, who began limiting his schedule this month to pursue a more aggressive cancer treatment, has died. He was 62.

Sorenson grew the company into the world’s largest hotel chain and for the past year has steered it through the coronavirus pandemic, a catastrophic event in the travel industry.

Sorenson was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019. J.W. Marriott Jr., the company’s executive chairman, said Sorenson loved every aspect of the hotel business and relished traveling and meeting employees around the world.

Sorenson was the first Marriott CEO whose name was not Marriott, and only the third to lead the company in its 93-year history.

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