Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares mostly lower on strong China price data

BANGKO (AP) — Shares are lower in most Asian markets today after China reported stronger than expected inflation data.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rebounded after falling the day before.

On Thursday, stocks closed moderately higher on Wall Street, lifted by gains in large technology companies that benefit from lower bond yields. The S&P 500 index gained 0.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1%.

Stocks have benefited this week as bond yields, which had been steadily ticking higher, retreated from highs hit earlier in the month. But higher than expected jobless claims dented some of the buying enthusiasm.

RELIEF CHECKS-SPENDING HABITS

Americans use stimulus to save, pay off debt more than spend

UNDATED (AP) — Americans are proving remarkably reliable in how they are spending their federal stimulus payments. The New York Federal Reserve released a study this week that shows Americans are using most of the money for paying down debt and for savings, with a smaller portion going to actual spending.

According to the report, households, on average, are using or plan to use about 41.6% of the latest relief payment toward savings, 33.7% toward debt and 24.7% for spending.

The percentage for each category has stayed relatively stable for each of the three rounds of payments. Researchers found there were variations by income level: Lower-income households tended to use more of the money for debt or spending than higher-income counterparts.

As the economy reopens and fear and uncertainty recede, the authors say the high levels of saving should facilitate future spending.

CHIP WOES

Starving for more chips in a tech-hungry world

SAN RAMON, Calif (AP) — As the U.S. economy awakens from its pandemic-induced slumber, a vital cog is in short supply: the computer chips that power our phones and wireless networks, cars and other vehicles, and a vast number of other items we take for granted.

The shortage has already created delays for people who want to buy laptops, the iPhone 12 and the latest video game consoles.

Things are still getting worse, especially in the auto industry, which has been closing down factories and stockpiling nearly completed vehicles in lots while they await the chips that they need to roll them into showrooms.

These snags are likely to frustrate consumers who can’t find the vehicle they want and sometimes find themselves settling for a lower-end models without as many fancy electronic features. And it threatens to leave a big dent in the auto industry, which by some estimates stands to lose $60 billion in sales during the first half of his year.

CHINA-US TECH SANCTIONS

US sanctions Chinese computer makers in widening tech fight

BEIJING (AP) — The Biden administration has added seven Chinese supercomputer makers and research labs to a U.S. export blacklist in a spreading conflict with Beijing over technology and security.

The measure adds to signs President Joe Biden is sticking to the tough line taken by his predecessor, Donald Trump, toward Chinese tech industries seen by Washington as potential threats.

The decision is part of mounting conflict over the ruling Communist Party’s industrial plans, access to American technology and accusations of computer attacks and theft of business secrets. The latest penalties target researchers and manufacturers the Commerce Department said build supercomputers used by the Chinese military in weapons development.

PERSIAN GULF-TENSIONS

South Korean tanker once held by Iran now on the move

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A South Korean oil tanker held for months by Iran amid a dispute over billions of dollars held in Seoul has been freed.

It happened early today ahead of further talks between Tehran and world powers over its tattered nuclear deal.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry says Iran released the MT Hankuk Chemi and its captain after seizing the vessel in January. Iran had accused the vessel of pollution but the seizure was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Seoul to release billions of dollars in Iranian assets tied up in South Korean banks amid heavy American sanctions on Iran.

SOUTWEST AIRLINES-FLIGHT ATTENDANTS

Southwest to recall flight attendants before summer season

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines says it’s bringing back more than 2,700 flight attendants who took leaves of absence last year. The airline’s announcement Thursday is the latest sign that the industry feels confident that travel is rebounding after being hammered for the past year by the pandemic.

A Southwest spokesman says the flight attendants will be recalled effective June 1. Just last week, Southwest said it will recall more than 200 pilots who also took voluntary leave as the airline tried to cut costs in 2020.

The Dallas-based airline lost more than $3 billion last year — its first money-losing year since the early 1970s — but CEO Gary Kelly said last month that it could return to break-even by June as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.

J&J VACCINE

North Carolina sites halt J&J shots after adverse reactions

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three vaccine clinics in North Carolina have suspended administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after some people had adverse reactions, including fainting.

Four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, and state and federal health officials are reviewing the matter. All four are expected to recover.

One of the vaccination sites was at PNC Arena in Raleigh and two others were at clinics run by UNC Health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is examining reports of adverse reactions in multiple states, but says fainting is not uncommon. Colorado recently saw two people go to the hospital after receiving the single-dose shot.

The decision to halt J&J vaccines at PNC Arena was made with less than two hours of appointments left to be administered. People who were at the site were then given Pfizer vaccines or allowed to reschedule their existing J&J appointments.

J&J VACCINE-MILITARY

J&J vaccine problems hamper US military vaccines overseas

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. military leaders say that recent problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have made it more difficult to provide shots for forces overseas. They also say that vaccines have been offered to service members’ families or other tier two beneficiaries in only 40 percent of the military sites outside the U.S.

Military officials say they are making up for the Johnson & Johnson shortfall by shipping more Moderna vaccines to forces outside the country.

The cold temperature and other requirements for the Pfizer vaccine make it more difficult to send overseas.

AMAZON-UNION

Amazon union organizers deflated as vote tilts against them

UNDATED (AP) — Amazon is heading into the final stretch of a union push in Bessemer, Alabama with a sizeable lead over labor organizers.

With nearly half the ballots counted Thursday night, 1,100 warehouse workers had rejected the union while 463 voted in favor of it. The count will resume this morning in Birmingham, Alabama, where agents for the National Labor Relations Board are counting each vote by hand.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Amazon workers in Bessemer, said that 3,215 votes were sent in — about 55% of the nearly 6,000 workers who were eligible to vote.

OJ SIMPSON-DEFAMATION LAWSUIT SETTLED

OJ Simpson, Las Vegas Strip hotel settle defamation case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — O.J. Simpson and a Las Vegas hotel-casino have settled a lawsuit alleging that unnamed employees defamed Simpson by telling a celebrity news site he had been banned from the property in November 2017 for being drunk and disruptive.

Attorneys for the resort had argued the former football star couldn’t be defamed because his reputation was already tarnished by his trials in the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles decades ago and his conviction and imprisonment in Nevada in a 2007 armed robbery case.

Terms were not made public in the court dismissal filed March 31 in Clark County District Court. It said both sides agreed to bear their own legal costs and fees.

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