Asian shares decline following lackluster day on Wall Street
UNDATED (AP) — Asian shares are lower after a lackluster day on Wall Street as investors wait to see if Congress can break a logjam on delivering more aid to people, businesses and local governments affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell today after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a suspension of a travel promotion program that has helped businesses but also is thought to have helped spark a resurgence of coronavirus outbreaks.
On Wall Street Monday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.4% after gaining as much as 0.9% earlier. The index is coming off its worst weekly performance since Halloween, and extended its losing streak to four consecutive trading days. Treasury yields rose.
US vaccinations ramp up as feds weigh 2nd COVID-19 shot
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds more U.S. hospitals are gearing up to vaccinate their workers, and federal health officials are reviewing a second COVID-19 shot.
About 400 hospitals and other health care facilities will get their first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine today. The expansion comes one day after the nation’s death toll surpassed a staggering 300,000. State officials are rationing the first shots to front-line health workers and nursing home residents.
In Washington, D.C, the Food and Drug Administration is set to publish its analysis of a second potential COVID-19 vaccine, developed by drugmaker Moderna. If cleared, U.S. officials predict they will have supplies to give 20,000 first injections by year’s end.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-INCOME SCAMS
US, states crack down on scams bilking desperate Americans
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal and state authorities say they are cracking down on a wave of illegal schemes that have proliferated during the pandemic and prey upon the desperation of people who have lost jobs in the outbreak’s economic upheaval.
The scams have ranged from the work-from-home reselling of luxury products, to pyramid schemes soliciting cash and that play on cultural norms in immigrant communities.
Regulators on Monday unveiled what they are calling “Operation Income Illusion,” a yearlong nationwide law-enforcement sweep targeting the scammers. Consumers lost an estimated $1 billion in the schemes since the start of 2020.
Especially vulnerable targets are seniors and retirees, immigrants, Black and Latino people, students and military families. Losses reported by consumers from the schemes rose to the highest level on record in the first nine months of the year at more than $150 million.
SOCIAL MEDIA-DATA PRIVACY
Agency homing in on social media companies’ data collection
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are ordering Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, TikTok’s parent and five other social media companies to provide detailed information on how they collect and use consumers’ personal data and how their practices affect children and teens.
The Federal Trade Commission’s action announced Monday goes to the heart of the tech industry’s lucrative business model: harvesting data from platform users and making it available to online advertisers so they can pinpoint specific consumers to target.
The agency plans to use the information, due in 45 days, for a comprehensive study.
The other five companies are Reddit, Snap, Discord, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and Google’s YouTube.
Apple’s app stores open new privacy window for customers
CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) —Apple has begun spelling out what kinds of personal information is being collected by the digital services displayed in its app stores for iPhones and other products made by the trendsetting company.
Starting Monday, the additional disclosures will begin to appear in apps made for iPads, Mac computers and Apple’s TV streaming device, as well iPhones. Apple announced six months ago that the changes were coming as part of an effort to help its customers gain a better understanding of how apps monitor their activities.
The increased transparency about the collection and handling of personal information is designed to help people make more informed decisions about which apps they choose to use.
Australian PM says China coal ban would breach WTO rules
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister says that China would be in breach of World Trade Organization rules as well as a bilateral free trade agreement if it banned Australian coal.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments Tuesday were in response to a report in the Chinese state-owned Global Times newspaper that said the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission had given power plants approval to import coal without restrictions except for Australian coal. Morrison said he was treating the report as “media speculation” because the Chinese government had yet to clarify its position.
Australian exports appear to have suffered due to deteriorating bilateral relations since Australia called for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.
France’s Macron wants to add climate goals in constitution
PARIS (AP) —French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a referendum to add the fight against climate change and the need to preserve the environment into the French Constitution.
Macron was speaking Monday to a citizen’s group in charge of making proposals on climate-related issues. He proposed a change in the French Constitution that requires a parliamentary vote, and then a referendum. He acknowledged that France doesn’t do enough to be in line with its commitments aimed at curbing global warming.
The country is missing its national targets that had been set under the 2015 Paris Agreement and has delayed most of its efforts until after this year.
Volkswagen board issues vote of confidence in CEO Diess
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) —Volkswagen’s board has given CEO Herbert Diess (dees) a vote of confidence for his efforts to push the giant auto company into the new fields of digital services and electric cars.
The statement Monday comes after media reports that Diess had clashed with the company’s powerful worker representatives over some of his decisions.
On top of the thumbs up for Diess, the board named a new chief financial officer to replace Frank Witter, who is stepping down next year. The new CFO is Arno Antlitz, who has been finance chief at the Volkswagen Group’s Audi division making luxury cars.