Update on the latest in business:


Stocks turn lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street after giving up early gains. Wall Street set fresh records on Monday after President Donald Trump signed into law the $900 billion coronavirus economic stimulus package that investors and economists have been pushing for. The hope is that the measures will help tide the economy over until vaccinations can bring surging infections under control, allowing precautions to be relaxed and life to begin returning to normal. The only other pending set of business from Washington is whether Senate Republicans will pass President Trump’s push to get $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans instead of the current $600.


US home prices rise at fastest pace in more than 6 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices jumped in October by the most in more than six years as a pandemic-fueled buying rush drives the number of available properties for sale to record lows. That combination of strong demand and limited supply pushed home prices up 7.9% in October compared with 12 months ago, according to Tuesday’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. That’s the largest annual increase since June 2014. The coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of Americans to work from home and it’s curtailed other activities like eating out, going to movies or visiting gyms. That’s leading more people to seek out homes with more room for a home office, a bigger kitchen, or space to work out.


Boeing Max returns to US skies with first passenger flight

UNDATED (AP) — American Airlines has flown a commercial flight using a Boeing 737 Max on Tuesday, the first one in U.S. skies since Max planes were grounded after two deadly crashes. American flight 718 left Miami International Airport with about 100 passengers, according to an airline spokeswoman, and landed Tuesday afternoon at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration approved changes that Boeing made to an automated flight-control system implicated in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people in all. In both crashes, the system pushed the nose down repeatedly based on faulty sensor readings, and pilots were unable to regain control.


Senate GOP blocks Democratic push for Trump’s $2K checks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked Democrats’ push to immediately bring President Donald Trump’s demand for bigger $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks up for a vote. The GOP leader said the Senate would “begin a process” to address the issue. But the next steps are highly uncertain. Trump has been pushing to more than triple the $600 payments approved by Congress. The House approved the larger checks, but the issue divides Republicans. On Tuesday, two Georgia Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, said they support Trump’s plan. They are in the fights of their political lives in runoff elections Jan. 5 that will determine which party controls the Senate.


‘Like a bathtub filling up’: Alabama is slammed by the virus

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama, long one of the unhealthiest and most impoverished states in America, has emerged as one of its most alarming coronavirus hot spots. Its hospitals are in crisis as the virus rages out of control in a region with high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions that can make COVID-19 even more dangerous. Access to health care was limited even before the outbreak. And public resistance to masks and other precautions is stubborn. The virus has killed more than 335,000 people across the U.S., including over 4,700 in Alabama.


‘Surge on top of a surge’ to challenge California hospitals

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Coronavirus patients are overwhelming hospitals in a large swath of the California even as COVID-19 hospitalizations stabilize in some parts of the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned residents Monday to brace for the impact of a “surge on top of a surge” from recent holiday travel. Intensive care units in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining. Newsom said his stay-at-home order would likely be extended Tuesday in most of the state. He said the state is heading into a new phase it’s been preparing for as it sets up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents, though it’s struggling to staff them.


UK hospitals struggle; tougher rules eyed to fight variant

LONDON (AP) — British officials are considering tougher coronavirus restrictions as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients surpasses the first peak of the outbreak in the spring. Authorities are blaming a new, more transmissible variant of the virus for soaring infection rates. England had 20,426 coronavirus patients in hospitals as of Monday, above the previous high of 18,974 on April 12. Almost half of the people in England are under strict restrictions on movement and everyday life in an attempt to curb the spread. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is scheduled to update Parliament on Wednesday on whether more areas will be put into the top tier of lockdown measures.


Some Britons receive 2nd shot of virus vaccine

LONDON (AP) — Some people in Britain have received their second and final dose of coronavirus vaccine as the country’s immunization program rolls on. Margaret Keenan, 91, who became the first person in the U.K. to get a vaccine on Dec. 8, had the follow-up injection Tuesday at a hospital in the central England city of Coventry. The vaccine developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech is given in two doses three weeks apart. Its developers say it conferred 95% immunity in clinical trials.


Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant?

LONDON (AP) — Experts say current COVID-19 vaccines will likely work on the new variant of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom, but are working to confirm that. The variant in the U.K. has caused alarm because of the possibility that it might spread more easily. Viruses often undergo small changes as they move through a population. If a virus mutates significantly enough, one worry is that current vaccines might no longer give as much protection. And although that’s a possibility to watch for over time with the coronavirus, experts say they don’t believe it will be the case with the U.K. variant.


Belarus, Argentina start vaccinations with Russian shots

MOSCOW (AP) — Belarus and Argentina have launched mass coronavirus vaccinations with the Russian-developed Sputnik V shot, becoming the first countries outside Russia to roll out the vaccine, which has faced criticism for the speed with which it was approved. The first batch of Sputnik V arrived in the former Soviet republic of Belarus on Tuesday and soon found its way into arms. Officials say the shots are free and voluntary, with medical staff, teachers, and those who come into contact a lot of people due to their jobs first in line. Hours later, a similar campaign kicked off in Argentina for medical workers.


EU and China to sign investment deal amid unease over rights

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union and China are set to sign a long-awaited business investment deal after seven years of intense discussions despite concerns about the human rights situation in the country. An EU official says the provisional agreement is set to be announced Wednesday. The EU hopes the agreement will help correct an imbalance in market access and create new investment opportunities for European companies in China. The official told the AP that deal was sealed after China committed to pursuing ratification of the International Labor Organization’s rules on forced labor. The EU expressed concerns Tuesday about human rights in China, including “restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists.”


Maverick French designer Pierre Cardin dies at 98

PARIS (AP) — France’s Academy of Fine Arts says fashion designer Pierre Cardin has died at age 98. Known for his Space Age styles, Cardin revolutionized fashion starting in the early 1950s and designed the bubble dress and other iconic looks of 20th century. He also was a licensing maverick who lent his name to thousands of products from wristwatches and stockings to belts and bedsheets. During the brand’s heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, his products were sold at some 100,000 outlets worldwide. Cardin used his fabulous wealth to snap up top-notch properties in Paris, including the restaurant Maxim’s. The Fine Arts Academy said Cardin died on Tuesday.

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