Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Wall Street on track to match longest winning streak of 2021

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed in afternoon trading as Wall Street looks to match its longest winning streak of the year.

Investors continue to closely watch the bond market, with even minute changes in bond yields causing stocks to fluctuate. They are also working through economic data that showed Americans cut back spending last month.

European shares were mostly higher despite news that AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, which was being used heavily in Europe and Asia, had reports of blood clots after usage. The vaccine’s usage is suspended in Europe.

RETAIL SALES

February retail sales fall 3% after soaring the month before

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans spent less last month, partly due to bad weather in parts of the country that kept shoppers away from stores.

Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 3% in February from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The drop comes after retail sales soared in January as people spent the $600 stimulus checks sent at the end of last year. In fact, the Commerce Department revised its January number up to 7.6% from its previously reported increase of 5.3%.

Economists expect retail sales to rise again in March as many Americans get $1,400 direct payments, part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that was signed into law last week.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

WASHINGTON (AP) — Industrial output fell sharply in February as severe winter storms battered much of the country, disrupting a wide range of manufacturing activities from autos to chemical plants.

The expectation is that the drop will be temporary although there are concerns about growing global supply chain problems.

The Federal Reserve reported industrial production fell 2.2%, interrupting a string of four positive monthly gains as U.S. factories recovered from the pandemic-induced recession of last spring.

The February drop reflected a 3.1% fall in manufacturing and a 5.4% decline in mining, a category that includes oil and gas production. The only sector showing an increase last month was utilities, where output rose by 7.4% as power production increased to meet heating needs during the severe winter weather that hit much of the country in mid-February.

BRITAIN BANK

NatWest unit faces criminal charge in money laundering case

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s financial regulator says National Westminster Bank has been charged with violating money laundering laws in relation to 365 million pounds ($505 million) deposited into a single customer’s accounts over a period of five years.

The criminal charges are the latest in a series of legal and conduct issues faced by the bank’s parent NatWest Group, which was bailed out by taxpayers during the global financial crisis, when it was known as the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The British government still owns 62% of the bank. The Financial Conduct Authority said Tuesday the case involves “increasingly large” deposits that were made into the accounts of a U.K.-incorporated customer between Nov. 11, 2011, and Oct. 19, 2016.

CHINA-SIGNAL SILENCED

Encrypted messaging app Signal blocked in China

HONG KONG (AP) — Encrypted messaging app Signal appears to have been blocked in mainland China, the latest foreign social media service to cease working in a country where information is tightly controlled by the government.

As of Tuesday, users of the app within China had to connect to a virtual private network (VPN) that allows them to circumvent China’s so-called Great Firewall, a censorship system which blocks websites, services and apps deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government.

The move to block Signal, one of the few remaining messaging apps in China that allowed users to engage in encrypted messaging, comes as China moves to tighten controls to shape public opinion and at times limit private discourse.

RUSSIA-TWITTER

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities say they will block Twitter in a month if it doesn’t take steps to remove banned content.

The move escalates the Russian government’s standoff with social media platforms that have played a major role in amplifying dissent in Russia.

Last week, the state communications watchdog said it began throttling Twitter traffic after it said the platform failed to remove content encouraging suicide among children and information about drugs and child pornography. Twitter responded by emphasizing its zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation, promotion of suicide and drug sales.

On Tuesday, the deputy chief of Roskomnadzor said Twitter had not adequately responded to authorities’ requests.

NOKIA-5G-J0B CUTS

Nokia to cut up to 10,000 jobs to ramp up R&D in 5G race

HELSINKI (AP) — Wireless network maker Nokia says it is planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs, or over 10% of its staff.

The cuts are meant to reduce costs as it invests in research and development and tries to cement its role as a key supplier of 5G technology.

The restructuring means the number of staff is expected to fall to 80,000-85,000 employees over a period of up to two years. Nokia said on Tuesday that it should reduce costs by 600 million ($715 million) by 2023.

The Finnish company didn’t specify countries or geographical areas affected by the measure but said the cuts would be carried out across its main four business units.

ROBOTICS LAB-FORD-MICHIGAN

Ford partners with U-M on robotics research, new building

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A grand opening has been held for the four-story, $75 million University of Michigan Ford Motor Co. Robotics Building.

Three floors of the 134,000-square-foot complex house classrooms and research labs for robots that fly, walk, roll and augment the human body. On the top floor are Ford researchers and engineers and the automaker’s first mobility research lab on a university campus.

The school and automaker announced Tuesday that together they will work to develop robots and roboticists that help make lives better, keep people safer and build a more equitable society.

ARCHITECTURE-PRITZKER PRIZE

Pritzker Architecture Prize awarded to Paris-based duo

UNDATED (AP) — The Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s highest honor, has been awarded to the French duo of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal for “prioritizing the enrichment of urban life,” especially in the context of public housing. The announcement was made Tuesday by Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award. Lacaton and Vassal met while studying architecture in the late ’70s in Bordeaux. They founded their Paris firm, Lacaton & Vassal, in 1987. They’ve devoted their energies to both private and public housing, as well as museums and other cultural and academic institutions and public spaces. Lacaton notes “good architecture is open — open to life.”

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