NEW YORK (AP) — Most of Wall Street is rising with hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Investors see a vaccine as the best way for the economy and human life to get back to normal, and researchers said late Tuesday that one developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna revved up people’s immune systems in early testing, as hoped.
The S&P 500 was up 0.5% in its first day of trading since the announcement, though it had given up most of an earlier 1.3% gain by midday. The majority of stocks in the S&P 500 and other indexes remained higher despite the loss of momentum.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Production at America″s factories, utilities and mines surged last month, but remained well below pre-pandemic levels.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that U.S. industrial production rose 5.4% in June, the second straight monthly gain. But it was still 10.9% below the level in February before the economy locked down in the face of the coroanavirus.
Factory production jumped 7.2% in June. The figures were better than economists had forecast. Production at utilities climbed 4.2%. But mining ouput sank 2.9% last month, the fifth straight drop, pulled down by plummeting oil and gas production.
LONDON (AP) — More countries have signed up for a global coronavirus vaccine initiative to ensure any vaccine is fairly distributed.
The vaccines alliance Gavi says 75 rich countries will join its new “Covax facility,” along with 90 low-income countries, which hope to receive donated vaccines. The Associated Press reported this week the plan may allow rich countries to reinforce their own coronavirus vaccine stocks while leaving fewer shots for more vulnerable populations.
When Gavi approached donor countries last month, it advertised the plan as an “insurance policy” for rich countries that have already struck deals with drug makers for experimental candidates.
Gavi told donor governments when an effective shot is found within its pool of coronavirus vaccines, all countries will receive enough to cover 20% of their populations, including rich countries that may have their own stockpiles.
It says countries would be encouraged, but not required, to give up any vaccine they might not need.
Gavi says it is aiming to raise $2 billion to buy vaccines.
White House says Navarro was speaking for himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says an opinion piece by its trade adviser that’s critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci is the adviser’s opinion “alone.”
Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, tweeted Wednesday the piece by trade adviser Peter Navarro “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone.”
Farah adds President Donald Trump “values the expertise” of the medical professionals advising the administration. But Trump has also broken with Fauci and publicly accused him of making “mistakes” in his public guidance about combating the virus.
USA Today published Navarro’s piece. It outlines the ways Navarro says he has disagreed with Fauci, who is the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases and serves on the White House coronavirus task force.
Navarro had shared his views with some reporters and the column comes as allies of Trump, including others inside the White House, have been waging a campaign to discredit Fauci.
French government launches new effort to rescue economy
PARIS (AP) — France’s new prime minister is setting aside more than $100 billion in new spending to rescue the virus-battered economy from its worst crisis since World War II.
The money will notably go to creating jobs for youth, reducing French carbon emissions, and protecting the small businesses that give rural France its charm.
Prime Minister Jean Castex laid out his plans after France’s suffered more than 30,000 virus-related deaths and massive strain on its once-renowned public health care system.
The stimulus plan includes a ban on new shopping malls in French suburbs, aid for electric bikes and for strategic French industries.
Walmart requires face coverings at all stores
NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart has become the latest major retailer to require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores. The nation’s largest retailer said the policy will go into effect on Monday to give the company time to inform stores and customers.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said that currently about 65% of its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is already some form of government mandate on face coverings.
The retailer also said it will create the role of health ambassador at its Walmart stores and will station them near the entrance to remind customers without masks of its new requirement.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-HEALTH INSURERS
With elective procedures delayed, UnitedHealth profit spikes
UNDATED (AP) — The nation’s largest health insurer more than doubled its profit in the second quarter, as COVID-19 shutdowns kept patients out of doctor’s offices and off operating tables.
UnitedHealth Group earned more than $6 billion in the three-month window that ended June 30.
Sizable earnings gains are expected from health insurers in the second quarter. The rapidly spreading pandemic led to a drop medical claims for elective surgeries and other non-urgent care. But insurers are being cautious about their 2020 outlooks because those procedures may ramp up again in the second half in areas where COVID-19 is brought under control.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-THEME PARKS
Last of Orlando’s major parks reopen
ORLANDO, FLa. (AP) — Days after reopening two theme parks amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, Walt Disney World is welcoming back visitors to two more theme parks that had been shuttered since March because of the new coronavirus.
The Florida theme park resort reopened Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Wednesday. It completed a rolling opening of Disney World’s theme parks that started last weekend with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom welcoming back visitors.
The parks were the last of Orlando’s major theme parks to reopen after being shuttered since March. Both Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando opened their doors last month.
Travel bans imposed on employees of Huawei and others
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is imposing travel bans on employees of the Chinese technology giant Huawei and other companies the U.S. determines are assisting authoritarian governments in cracking down on human rights.
Pompeo also says the Trump administration is finalizing plans to crack down on the popular Chinese video streaming app TikTok, although he stopped short of saying it would be banned in the U.S.
Pompeo made the announcements on Wednesday, a day after the British government said it would ban Huawei from its 5G networks over concerns that sensitive data could be compromised by China.
Court rules that Apple doesn’t have to pay back taxes to Ireland
BRUSSELS (AP) — A European Union high court has ruled that technology giant Apple does not have to pay $15 billion in back taxes to Ireland, as the EU’s executive commission wants.
The EU Commission had claimed in 2016 that Apple had an illegal sweetheart tax deal with Irish authorities. But the Luxembourg-based General Court said Wednesday that ”the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the EU demand for back taxes “total political crap.”
The ruling can be appealed and the commission said it was considering its next steps.
Trump administration steps up efforts against pipelines
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is hardening its efforts to prevent the completion of new German-Russian and Turkish-Russian natural gas pipelines by warning companies involved in the projects they’ll be subject to U.S. sanctions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday the administration is ending grandfather clauses that had exempted firms previously involved in the pipelines’ construction from sanctions. The move will likely increase tensions in already fraught U.S.-European ties as well as anger Russia. It opens the door for U.S. economic and financial penalties to be imposed on any European or other foreign company for work on Nord Stream 2 and the second TurkStream line.
The administration believes the pipelines will increase dependence on Russian energy.
Trump ready to roll back environmental law
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is ready to roll back a Nixon-era environmental law that he says stifles major infrastructure projects.
Environmentalists say the law has served for decades as a safeguard for low-income and minority communities.
Trump is traveling to Atlanta on Wednesday to formally announce the changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, making it easier to build highways, pipelines, chemical plants and other projects. The White House says the final rule will promote the rebuilding of America.
Critics call the Republican president’s efforts a cynical attempt to limit the public’s ability to review, comment on and influence proposed projects under one of the country’s bedrock environmental protection laws.
Miner of rare earths goes public
UNDATED (AP) — The sole miner of rare earths in the U.S. is becoming a public company amid elevated trade tensions with China, the dominant global supplier of the material used in everything from computers to cars.
MP Materials, which runs a mine and processing facility in Mountain Pass, Calif., near the border of Nevada, will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in a deal with the blank-check company Fortress Value Acquisition.
Goldman 2Q profit tops forecast on strong trading revenue
NEW YORK (AP) — Investment bank Goldman Sachs says it posted a massive 41% rise in revenues in the second quarter, helped by a blowout performance by the bank’s trading desks.
The New York-based bank had second quarter revenues of $13.3 billion, which is up from $9.46 billion in the same period a year ago. That helped keep the bank’s second-quarter profits flat at $2.42 billion, making up for the money Goldman set aside more money to cover legal expenses and potentially bad loans caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
CBS, NAACP reach multi-year agreement to develop content
LOS ANGELES (AP) — CBS Television and the NAACP have reached an agreement to develop content that tells stories of the African American experience.
The television studio and civil rights organization announced the multi-year agreement in a joint statement Wednesday. The partnership will focus on creating and producing scripted, unscripted and documentary content for the studio’s broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.
CBS will work with the NAACP to form a team to acquire, develop and produce programming to detail inclusive stories.
Hyundai recalls 272K US cars; electrical outlet can overheat
DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai is recalling more than 272,000 cars in the U.S. because the electrical socket in the dashboard can overheat and cause a fire.
The recall covers certain 2011 and 2012 Elantra compacts and Sonata midsize cars, and the 2012 Accent subcompact and Veloster hatchback.
Hyundai says the problem happens when an air compressor used to inflate tires is plugged into the socket for a long time. In some vehicles, the outlets were overly tightened at the factory. That can disable a fuse designed to guard against overheating.Hyundai has nine reports of fires but no injuries.
Hyundai is still working on a repair. Owners will get letters notifying them of the recall starting in late August.