AP Business SummaryBrief at 5:10 p.m. EDT

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...

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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.

Bitcoin drops below $20,000 as crypto selloff quickens

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of 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 by as much as 12% to less than $18,100 by late afternoon East Coast time, according to cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk. The last time bitcoin was at this level was in November 2020, when it was on its way up to an all-time high. Bitcoin has now lost more than 70% of its value since reaching that peak. It’s the latest sign of turmoil in the cryptocurrency industry amid wider turbulence in financial markets.

Biden, mulling tariff decision, will talk soon to China’s Xi

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden says he plans to talk to Chinese leader Xi Jinping soon as he considers whether to lift some Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods. Biden isn’t saying when they might speak, but Biden is suggesting he’s getting closer to making a decision about the economic penalties. Biden told reporters Saturday in Delaware that he’s “in the process of making up my mind.” National security and economic aides are in the process of completing a review of the U.S. tariff policy. The tariffs imposed under President Donald Trump applied a 25% duty on billions of dollars of Chinese products. The penalties were intended to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and force China to adopt fairer practices.

US opens COVID vaccine to little kids, shots begin next week

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials have opened COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — the last group without the shots. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the decision Saturday, hours after an advisory panel voted unanimously that coronavirus vaccines should made available to children as young as 6 months. The Biden administration has been gearing up for the start of the shots early next week. Millions of doses have been ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and community health clinics around the country.

Warren Buffett’s final charity lunch draws record $19M bid

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An anonymous bidder has shelled out a record $19 million for a private lunch with billionaire Warren Buffet at a steakhouse in New York City. The meal with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO was offered on an eBay auction to benefit the San-Francisco based charity GLIDE. The winner can bring up to seven guests. This year’s event will be the first private lunch offered with the 91-year-old billionaire since the previous record-setting bid of $4.5 million in 2019. The past two auctions were called off due to the pandemic. Buffett, who says this will be the last charity lunch, has raised $53 million for GLIDE since the auction began in 2000.

Wall Street closes worst week since 2020 with slight gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street closed out its most punishing week since the 2020 coronavirus crash with a meandering day of trading Friday that left it a bit higher. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%. That was nowhere near enough to make up for big earlier losses, and the index fell to its tenth drop in the last 11 weeks. Markets around the world have shuddered as investors adjust to the bitter medicine of higher interest rates that central banks are increasingly doling out. Higher rates can bring down inflation, but they also risk a recession by slowing the economy and push down on investment prices.

T-shirts? Ice cream? Retailers cash in on Juneteenth

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers and marketers have been quick to commemorate Juneteenth with an avalanche of merchandise from ice cream to T-shirts to party favors. But many are getting backlash on social media for what critics say is undermining the day. Juneteenth was designated as a federal holiday last year to honor the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. A search for Juneteenth items among online sellers like Amazon and J.C. Penney produced everything from toothpicks with pan-African flags to party plates and balloons. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, apologized last month after getting slammed on social media for a Juneteenth ice cream flavor of swirled red velvet and cheesecake under its store label Great Value.

Big crowds take to London streets to protest soaring costs

LONDON (AP) — Thousands of people have marched through central London in a protest over the soaring cost of living in Britain. Huge crowds flooded into the British capital for the rally on Saturday to demand that the government do more to help people faced with bills and other expenses that are rising more quickly than their wages. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticized for being slow to respond to the cost-of-living crisis. Demonstrators carried banners with messages such as “Cut war not welfare.” They booed when they passed by the prime minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street according to videos posted on social media.

Russia again cuts natural gas exports to European countries

PRAGUE (AP) — Russia has reduced natural gas to Europe again as countries have worked to ease their dependence on Russian supplies amid the war in Ukraine. Friday marks the third day of significant reductions to the fuel that powers industry and generates electricity in Europe, which also have hit Germany and Austria. It has further spiked already-high energy prices that are driving record inflation in the European Union. Russia side has told Slovakia’s state-controlled gas company that it would reduce gas flow to the country by 50%. Russian energy giant Gazprom also told Italian gas company Eni that it would supply only 50% of the gas requested for Friday. France is no longer receiving any natural gas from Russia.

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