AP Business SummaryBrief at 11:48 p.m. EDT

New NHTSA chief: Agency to scrutinize auto-driver technology

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new head of the government’s road safety agency says he will intensify efforts to understand the risks posed by automated vehicle technology. Steven Cliff says the aim is to help National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decide what regulations may be necessary to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Cliff said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that agency is assessing crash data recently reported by automakers and tech companies. Any new regulations that the agency may impose would fill what critics say is an urgent need to address the growing use of driver assisted systems. The systems have been linked to crashes involving deaths and serious injuries, though they also have enormous potential to prevent crashes.

Most say nation on wrong track, including Dems: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new poll shows an overwhelming and growing majority of Americans say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, including nearly 8 in 10 Democrats. The poll, by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, finds that deep pessimism about the economy continues to plague President Joe Biden. Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults polled say the country is on the wrong track. Seventy-nine percent describe the economy as poor. The findings suggest Biden faces fundamental challenges as he tries to motivate voters to cast ballots for Democrats in November’s midterm elections. The poll shows only 39% of Americans approve of Biden’s leadership overall, while 60% disapprove.

Powell: ‘No guarantee’ Fed can tame inflation, spare jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said there’s “no guarantee″ the central bank can tame runaway inflation without hurting the job market.  Speaking Wednesday at a European Central Bank forum, Powell repeated his hope that the Fed can achieve a so-called soft landing — raising interest rates just enough to slow the economy and rein in surging consumer prices without sending the U.S. economy into a recession. He says “we believe we can do that.” But he says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made the job more difficult by disrupting commerce and driving up the price of food, energy and chemicals. ECB President Christine Lagarde echoed the “major impact” of energy shocks.

US buys 105 million COVID vaccine doses for fall campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government will purchase another 105 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in anticipation of a fall booster campaign. The $3.2 billion agreement comes as federal scientists weigh whether and how to update the vaccines to better protect Americans from the rapidly evolving virus. Federal officials say the purchase agreement includes the option to purchase a total of 300 million doses, including a mix of doses for both adults and children. The first shots would be delivered by early fall, pending a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to revamp and authorize new versions of the currently available vaccines.

Amazon, Rite Aid cap purchase of emergency contraceptives

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is limiting how many emergency contraceptives consumers can buy, joining other retailers who put in place similar caps following the Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade. A company spokesperson confirmed Amazon’s temporarily cap of three units per week went into effect on Monday. The company did not share further details on what emergency contraceptive products were limited for purchase. But a listing showed the cap was applied to the popular Plan B “morning after” pill. Rite Aid also limited sales of Plan B to three units per customer on Monday due to increased demand. Walmart, Amazon’s top competitor, has also capped online purchases of Plan B to 10 units.

Merger vote at Spirit could reshape discount airline market

DALLAS (AP) — Shareholders of Spirit Airlines will vote next month on a proposed merger with Frontier Airlines. If that deal fails, Spirit could be sold to JetBlue Airways. A vote on the Frontier deal had been scheduled for Thursday but was delayed until July 8. The outcome could affect fares for millions of air travelers who depend on the budget airlines. Some industry experts think a Frontier-Spirit combination would keep fares lower than if JetBlue buys Spirit. Either way, consumers will probably find something to complain about. Spirit, Frontier and JetBlue had the highest complaint rates in the industry last year.

Asia stocks mixed after Wall St down, China manufacturing up

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are mixed after the U.S. economy contracted and China reported stronger factory activity. Shanghai and Hong Kong gained, while Tokyo and Seoul declined. Oil prices advanced. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index edged 0.1% lower after data showed the U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter amid high inflation and weakening consumer confidence. Investors are uneasy about signs the biggest global economy might be in a recession due to interest rate hikes imposed to cool surging inflation. The global economy has been roiled by anti-virus measures in China that shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up prices of oil, wheat and other commodities.

U.S. newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

NEW YORK (AP) — Despite a growing recognition of the newspaper industry’s problems among politicians and philanthropists, a new report says a downward trend continues. A report from Northwestern University says local newspapers in the United States are dying at the rate of two per week. There has been growth in digital alternatives, but not nearly enough to compensate for what has been lost. Northwestern says the number of counties with no newspapers or only one outlet continues to expand, and the underserved areas tend to have residents who are poorer, older and less-educated than those covered well, Many digital-only sites are clustered in or near big cities, since that’s where the money is to fund them.

Gas lines and scuffles: Sri Lanka faces humanitarian crisis

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A few years ago, Sri Lanka had an economy strong enough to provide jobs and financial security for its 22 million people. Now, its economy is in a state of collapse, the nation is dependent on aid and its leaders desperately are trying to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund. The situation is worse than typical financial crises in the developing world: It’s a complete economic breakdown that has left ordinary people struggling to buy food, fuel and other necessities, has brought political unrest and violence and is veering quickly into a humanitarian crisis.

Sale puts Ben & Jerry’s ice cream back in West Bank, kind of

JERUSALEM (AP) — Unilever says it has reached a new business arrangement in Israel that will effectively end Ben & Jerry’s policy of not selling ice cream in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Israel hailed the move as a victory against the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. BDS aims to bring economic pressure to bear on Israel over its military occupation of lands the Palestinians want for a future state. Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry’s, had distanced itself from the ice cream maker’s apparent boycott of Israeli settlements. It said Wednesday that it had sold its business interest in Israel to a local company that would sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream throughout Israel and the West Bank.

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