Update on the latest in business:



NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting lower on Wall Street, taking a pause after a four-day winning streak. The S&P 500 was down 0.3% in midday trading.

Coronavirus counts are rising at a worrying degree in many countries around the world, and Johnson & Johnson said late Monday it had to temporarily pause a late-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Uncertainty about the prospects for more stimulus for the economy from Washington is also hanging over markets.

Several big companies kicked off the earnings reporting season with better profit reports than expected. Analysts are looking for improvement generally from the spring.


Consumer prices rise 0.2% in September, used vehicles spike

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. consumer prices rose slightly in September, led again by sharp increases in the index for used vehicles.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that the consumer price index rose 0.2% last month.

Prices for used cars and trucks rose 6.7% in September after a 5.4% gain in August and are now up 10.3% in the past 12 months.

Overall inflation for the last 12 months is up 1.4% while core inflation, which excludes energy and food, is up 1.7%. As long as inflation remains below 2%, most economists think the Fed will keep borrowing rates at record lows.


Retiree checks to rise 1.3% in 2021 amid coronavirus fallout

WASHINGTON (AP) — Social Security recipients will get a modest 1.3% cost-of living-increase in 2021, but that might be small comfort amid worries about the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences for older people.

Government estimates released Tuesday show the increase amounts to $20 a month for the average retired worker. The estimated average Social Security payment for a retired worker would be $1,543 a month. The cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, affects the personal finances of about 1 in 5 Americans.

The economic fallout from the virus reduced tax collections for Social Security and Medicare. But there’s been no real discussion of either program in the election contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.


Trade body rules EU can put tariffs on $4 billion of US goods

GENEVA (AP) — World Trade Organization arbitrators say that the European Union can sanction up to $4 billion in U.S. goods over Washington’s illegal support for plane maker Boeing.

The ruling could inflame Trump administration criticism of the Geneva-based trade body. It amounts to one of the largest penalties handed down by the WTO. It comes a year after another ruling authorized billions in penalties against the European Union over support for Boeing rival Airbus.

The decision is final, cannot be appealed, and puts the final word on a standoff dating back to 2006.


McConnell slates October revote on GOP COVID relief plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he’s scheduling a vote regarding a GOP COVID-19 relief bill for later this month. He says aid to hard-hit businesses shouldn’t be held up by gridlock involving other aid proposals.

The Kentucky Republican says in a statement Tuesday that the Senate will take a procedural vote Oct. 19 when the chamber returns.

Democrats filibustered a GOP-drafted aid bill last month and recent talks on a larger deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., fell apart this past weekend, probably for good.

McConnell’s announcement came as President Donald Trump continues to agitate for “stimulus,” saying that Republicans should “go big” rather than the limited approach they’ve been advocating.


Johnson & Johnson looking into unexplained illness

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson executives say it will be a few days before they know more about an unexplained illness in one participant that caused a temporary pause in its late-stage COVID-19 vaccine study.

Such pauses are not uncommon, as some participants come down with an unrelated illness during a long study.

Mathai Mammen, head of research and development for Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s medicine development business, says it may not be related to the vaccine. He says Johnson & Johnson gave information on the case to the independent monitoring board overseeing the safety of patients in the study. It will recommend next steps.

The study of the one-dose vaccine called ENSEMBLE will include up to 60,000 people from multiple countries.


IMF envisions a sharp 4.4% drop in global growth for 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund envisions a steep fall in international growth this year as the global economy struggles to recover from the pandemic-induced recession, its worst collapse in nearly a century.

The IMF forecast that the global economy will shrink 4.4% for 2020. That would be the worst annual plunge since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The IMF’s forecast for 2020 in its latest World Economic Outlook does represent an upgrade of 0.8 percentage point from its previous forecast released in June. The fund attributed the slightly less dire forecast to faster-than-expected rebounds in some countries, notably China, and government rescue aid.


JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup say profits improved

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Two of the nation’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — say their profits improved markedly over the summer, helped by notable gains in the U.S. economy after the coronavirus economic shutdowns from earlier this year.

But both banks warned that much uncertainty remains about where the the U.S. economy is headed, and top bank executives bluntly said there is a need for another economic stimulus package to keep the economy from slipping into recession again.

Both Citi and JPMorgan set aside fewer funds to cover potentially bad loans, contributing to the improvement in their quarterly results.


Delta posts $5.38 billion 3Q loss as pandemic hammers travel

UNDATED (AP) — Delta Air Lines is the first carrier to report financial results for the third quarter, and the numbers are grim.

Delta said Tuesday that it lost $5.38 billion as travel remain depressed over the normally peak vacation season because of the pandemic. Most of Delta’s loss came from charges covering severance for people who agreed to give up their jobs, and for writing down the value of assets like planes that will be retired.

Revenue is down 76% from the same period last year. The drop in passenger revenue wasn’t as sharp as in the second quarter, however, and CEO Ed Bastian says passengers are slowly coming back.


Boeing’s struggles continue: No jetliner sales in September

UNDATED (AP) — Fewer people are traveling during the pandemic, and that means airlines aren’t buying new planes.

Boeing said Tuesday that it sold no commercial planes in September, and three orders for the grounded 737 Max were canceled. On top of that, Boeing is dropping orders for 48 more planes because it’s not sure that financially troubled airlines will be able to close the deals.

So far this year, orders for 448 Max jets have been canceled and Boeing has dropped another 602 from its backlog because of doubts about the sales.


NASA moon-landing tech hitches ride to space on Bezos rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Jeff Bezos’ space company has launched a rocket with NASA’s newest moon-landing tech on board.

The New Shepard rocket blasted off from a remote corner of Texas on Tuesday. The entire flight by the company Blue Origin lasted just 10 minutes, barely skimming space with a peak altitude of 66 miles. The booster landed vertically back at the launch complex, giving NASA the opportunity to test navigation equipment that could help put astronauts back on the moon by 2024.

This particular rocket has now launched seven times, a record for Blue Origin.

The capsule, meanwhile, parachuted onto the desert floor with science experiments, including 1.2 million tomato seeds that will be distributed to schoolchildren.


US investigates fire reports in Chevy Bolt electric vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s road safety agency is investigating complaints that the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle can catch fire. The probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers nearly 78,000 Bolts made by General Motors from the 2017 through 2020 model years.

The agency says that it has three reports of fires that began under the rear seat while the cars were parked and unattended. One person suffered smoke inhalation. The fire damage appeared to be concentrated in the battery compartment area, spreading into the passenger compartment.

GM says it’s cooperating with the probe and is conducting its own investigation.

The safety agency will determine how often the fires happen and assess the safety consequences. The probe could lead to a recall.


Swedish giant Ikea to buy back used furniture

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Flat-pack furnishings retailer Ikea says it will offer to buy back thousands of pieces of used Ikea furniture in 27 countries, for resale, recycling or donation to community projects.

The Swedish giant said Tuesday that its Black Friday event will be “an opportunity to meet customers’ needs in ways that contribute to a circular economy.” It will run from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3.

The company did not say in what condition the used furniture should be or whether it should be dismantled. The group said Tuesday it is currently looking into how to best prolong the life of products for reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and recycling.

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