AP Business SummaryBrief at 2:22 p.m. EDT

Yellen: Recession not inevitable, gas tax holiday weighed

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she expects the U.S. economy to slow in the months ahead, but that a recession is not inevitable. She’s offering a dose of optimism even as economists grow increasingly worried about a recession fueled by skyrocketing inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yellen tells ABC’s “This Week” that overall consumer spending in the United States remains...

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Yellen: Recession not inevitable, gas tax holiday weighed

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she expects the U.S. economy to slow in the months ahead, but that a recession is not inevitable. She’s offering a dose of optimism even as economists grow increasingly worried about a recession fueled by skyrocketing inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yellen tells ABC’s “This Week” that overall consumer spending in the United States remains strong, while also noting that spending patterns are changing, given the impact of rising food and energy prices.  She’s also expressing an openness to a federal gas tax holiday to help give motorists some relief at the pump. And she says it’ll take “skill and luck” to bring down inflation while maintaining low unemployment.

Morale is concern as NATO chief warns war could last ‘years’

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — British defense officials assessing the intense fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine bordering Russia say morale among troops on both sides is likely growing troubled. Meanwhile, NATO’s chief is warning the fighting could drag on for “years.” In an interview published on Sunday in the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “nobody knows” how long the war could last. “We need to be prepared for it to last for years.” He also urged allies ”not to weaken support for Ukraine, even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military aid, but also because of the increase in energy and food goods prices.”

Inflation taking bite out of new infrastructure projects

Inflation is taking a toll on infrastructure projects across the U.S. Rising prices for materials such as asphalt, steel and iron pipes are driving up the costs to build roads, bridges, rail lines and water mains. The prices for some infrastructure materials have risen even faster than general consumer prices. State and local officials say inflation is diminishing the value of a $1 trillion federal infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden just seven months ago. Some officials say inflation has forced them to delay or scale back the scope of projects.

Germany to limit use of gas for electricity production

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s economy minister says the country will limit the use of gas for electricity production amid concerns about possible shortages caused by a reduction in supplies from Russia. Germany has been trying to fill its gas storage facilities to capacity ahead of the winter months, when gas is more urgently needed as a heating fuel. Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that Germany will try to compensate for the move by increasing the burning of coal, a more polluting fossil fuel. He described the move as “bitter, but it’s simply necessary in this situation.”  While the situation on the gas markets has become more acute in recent days, storage facilities are still able to make up the shortfall from Russia with purchases from elsewhere.

Buttigieg: US may act against airlines on consumers’ behalf

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says he’s pushing airlines to hire more customer-service agents and take other steps to help travelers this summer. Buttigieg tells The Associated Press his department could take enforcement action against airlines that fail to meet consumer-protection standards, although he thinks that won’t be necessary. Buttigieg says he wants to see how the airlines do over the July Fourth holiday weekend and the rest of the summer. He held a virtual meeting on Thursday with airline executives where they described steps their companies are taking to avoid a repeat of the Memorial Day weekend, when about 2,800 flights were canceled.

EXPLAINER: How did Russia-Ukraine war trigger a food crisis?

LONDON (AP) — Russian hostilities in Ukraine are preventing grain from leaving the “breadbasket of the world.” That is making food more expensive across the globe and threatening to worsen shortages, hunger and political instability in developing countries. World food prices were already climbing, and the war made things worse, preventing some 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain from getting to the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia. Weeks of negotiations on safe corridors to get grain out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have made little progress, with urgency rising as the summer harvest season arrives.

Maryland Apple store union vote marks latest in labor drives

A vote by Apple store employees in a Baltimore suburb marks the latest labor drive at big companies in recent months. In December, a Starbucks store in Buffalo became the first to unionize at one of the coffee retailer’s company-owned U.S. stores. In January, a group of Google engineers and other workers announced they had formed a union, a rare foothold for the labor movement in the tech industry. Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, voted to unionize in April, marking the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history.

Prada mixes nostalgia and grunge for summer 2023 menswear

MILAN (AP) — Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons offered a nostalgia play for next season, mixing gingham, coming from the feminine world, with masculine menswear. The looks for Spring-Summer 2023 included men’s suiting, ribbed knitwear and sleeveless leather rompers, which contrasted with the current high temperatures in Milan. Backstage, Prada welcomed guests including Jake Gyllenhaal, Jeff Goldblum and Rami Malek, herself wearing a cashmere gray short-sleeved sweater and an organza sheath skirt.

Macron alliance projected to lose parliamentary majority

PARIS (AP) — Projections show French President Emmanuel Macron’s alliance has received the most seats in the final round of the parliamentary election. But the alliance lost its parliamentary majority. The projections are based on partial results Sunday and they show that Macron’s candidates would win between 200 and 250 seats. That’s much less than the 289 required to have a straight majority at the National Assembly. The situation is unusual in France and is expected to make Macron’s political maneuvering difficult if the projections are borne out. A new coalition made up of the hard left, the Socialists and the Greens is projected to become the main opposition force with about 150 to 200 seats. The far-right National Rally is projected to register a huge surge.

Bitcoin drops below $20,000 as crypto selloff quickens

NEW YORK (AP) — Bitcoin has fallen below $20,000 for the first time since late 2020, in a fresh sign that the selloff in cryptocurrencies is deepening. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, dropped under the psychologically important threshold on Saturday. It plunged as much as 9.7% to less than $18,600 by late afternoon East Coast time, according to cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk. The last time bitcoin was at this level was in November 2020. Bitcoin has now lost more than 70% of its value from a peak of nearly $69,000. The cryptocurrency industry has seen turmoil amid wider turbulence in financial markets.

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