S&P 500 rises again, on pace for its best week since July
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are higher on Wall Street as talks appear to be continuing in the start-and-stop drive on Capitol Hill to deliver more aid to the ailing economy.
At midday, the S&P 500 was on pace to close out its best week since July, following a weekslong run of mostly shaky trading.
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Despite the market’s early gains, trading underneath the surface continues to be unsettled. Energy stocks went from helping to lead the market to slumping to the sharpest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500. Treasury yields were also moving up and down.
McConnell says no COVID-19 bill likely before Election Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate says Congress is unlikely to deliver another big COVID-19 relief bill before the election.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon because the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage. He spoke in Kentucky after Trump apparently did an about-face and empowered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to resume negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on a larger coronavirus relief package despite nixing the talks with a Tuesday tweet.
White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told reporters that “developments are positive” ahead of a telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.
UK bolsters salary support for those hit by local lockdowns
LONDON (AP) — The British government will pay two thirds of the salaries of workers in companies that have to close as a result of new coronavirus lockdown restrictions, which are widely expected to come into effect next week.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak responded Friday to calls from businesses, local leaders and unions to provide a financial support package to prevent mass job losses in sectors that will be subject to new restrictions.
Pubs and restaurants in large parts of the north of England, where the coronavirus is spreading fastest, are expected to face a government order to shut their doors again, barely three months after reopening.
Trump administration targets diversity hiring by contractors
UNDATED (AP) — American companies promising to hire more Black employees in leadership roles and teach their workforce about racism are getting a message from President Donald Trump’s administration: Watch your step.
Trump’s Labor Department is using a 55-year-old presidential order spurred by the Civil Rights Movement to scrutinize companies like Microsoft and Wells Fargo over their public commitments to boost Black employment and leadership roles.
It’s not that they haven’t done enough to add diversity to their ranks, but they might be going too far, according to government letters sent last week warning the companies against using “discriminatory practices” to meet their diversity goals.
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Japan, Mongolia to cooperate on ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’
TOKYO (AP) — The foreign ministers of Japan and Mongolia have agreed to cooperate in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” a vision that Tokyo is pushing with the U.S. and other “like-minded” countries to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi held talks in Mongolia with his counterpart, Nyamtseren Enkhtaivan. His visit comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a trip to Mongolia because of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 infection. Japan and Mongolia also signed a $235 million emergency loan to help the pandemic-hit Mongolian economy and fund medical equipment.
CHINA-GOLDEN WEEK TRAVEL
China Golden Week holiday pumps up tourism, boon to economy
HONG KONG (AP) — Some 637 million Chinese tourists took domestic trips during the eight-day Golden Week holiday, spending the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars at a time when China is seeking to boost consumer spending to stimulate the economy.
The holiday, which began Oct. 1, saw more than 45% of China’s population take trips within the country and spend 466.6 billion yuan ($69.5 billion), according to data from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. That marked a decline of 21% for domestic tourists from last year’s Golden Week and a 30% decline for spending.
Still the numbers indicate that consumption is beginning to bounce back from the battering it took from the coronavirus pandemic.
Brazil’s poor squeezed by less virus aid, surging food costs
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s government is winding down its monthly pandemic cash transfer program through year-end, with unemployment still high, and millions of people who benefited will slip back into poverty.
The program, which started in April, has been the main driver behind lifting 15 million people from poverty, including 2 million from July to August, according to a report published Friday morning. But the Brazilian government lacks the fiscal space to maintain the costly program.
Meanwhile, rising food prices have also been hurting the poor. Inflation data that Brazil’s statistics agency released Friday morning showed food prices have increased 7.3% during 2020.
Broadway shutdown due to virus extended again until May 30
NEW YORK (AP) — Fans of Broadway will have to wait a little longer for shows to resume — until at least late May.
Although an exact date for various performances to resume has yet to be determined, Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through May 30.
Broadway theaters abruptly closed on March 12, knocking out all shows — including 16 that were still scheduled to open — and scrambling the Tony Award schedule. Producers, citing health and city authorities, previously extended the shutdown to June 7, then again to Sept. 6 and again to Jan. 3.
A long road: Weed goes on sale years after approval in Maine
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Mainers are getting their first opportunity to legally buy marijuana for adult recreational use. But the supply could be thin.
Retailers blame the pandemic and a limited number of licensed manufacturers for reducing the variety of products available on Friday, the opening day. Licenses were issued only a month ago and to just seven stores.
Maine’s road to becoming the 10th state allowing marijuana for recreational use was exceptionally arduous. A referendum was approved nearly four years ago, in November 2016, but the effort to set up a method for legally purchasing cannabis dragged on through two vetoes by the governor, two legislative rewrites, and a change in administrations.
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