NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling from their record highs Monday, as trading gets underway in a year where the dominant expectation is for a powerful economic rebound to eventually sweep the world.
The S&P 500 was 2.1% lower in afternoon trading, after earlier flipping from small gains to losses. Coronavirus cases keep climbing at frightening rates around the world, threatening to bring more economy-punishing lockdown orders.
Optimism was more prevalent in other markets. Most European and Asian stock indexes were higher, while Treasury yields climbed in a signal of rising expectations for economic growth and inflation.
US construction spending increases solid 0.9% in November
WASHINGTON (AP) — Spending on U.S. construction projects increased 0.9% in November as strength in home building offset weakness in other parts of the construction industry.
The Commerce Department said Monday that the November gain followed a bigger 1.6% rise in October and left construction spending up 4.4% through the first 11 months of 2020. For November, spending on residential construction rose 1.2% with single-family construction surging 5.1% while apartment construction was flat.
Record low mortgage rates have spurred strong demand for housing even as a global pandemic resulted in widespread lock downs for many parts of the economy.
UK’s Johnson to outline new restrictions to slow COVID-19
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to outline tougher restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Monday, even as Britain ramped up its vaccination program by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.
Johnson, who has said tougher measures are imminent, announced that he would address the nation at 8 p.m. (3 p.m. EST). The U.K. Parliament will be recalled from its holiday recess to sit on Wednesday.
The prime minister’s office didn’t release any details of the new measures ahead of Johnson’s remarks.
Slack kicks off 2021 with a global outage
UNDATED (AP) — Slack, the messaging service used by millions of people for work and school, suffered a global outage, the first day back for most people returning from the New Year’s holiday. It’s the latest tech glitch to show how disruptive technical difficulties can be when millions of people are depending on just a few services to work and go to school from home during the pandemic.
The company stopped releasing its daily user count after topping 12 million last year.
Slack apologized Monday and asked users to check for updates at https://status.slack.com.
The outage began around 10 a.m. Eastern and service is disrupted the U.S., Germany, India, the U.K., Japan and elsewhere.
Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot shareholders approve merger
MILAN (AP) — Shareholders of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot have voted to merge the U.S.-Italian and French carmakers to create world’s 4th-largest auto company.
The merger is built on the promise of cost savings in the capital-hungry industry. But what remains to be seen is if the long-sought tie-up will be able to preserve jobs and heritage brands in a global market still suffering the shakeout from the pandemic.
Shareholders of both companies on Monday overwhelmingly approved the deal to for the new company, which will be called Stellantis. The new company will have the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan. The deal is expected to close on Jan. 16.
UK watchdog investigates Ryanair’s ‘jab & go’ ad
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into budget carrier Ryanair, after receiving 1,600 complaints about an ad that suggested consumers should “jab & go.’’
The authority said Monday that some consumers objected to the ad, which featured a syringe and a small bottle labeled “vaccine.’’ Some argued it was misleading to suggest vaccine will be rolled out across the population by the spring and that travel restrictions would be lifted. Other consumers objected to what they saw as the trivialization of the impact of the pandemic on society.
The budget airline did not immediately respond when asked about the investigation.
Google workers form new labor union, a tech industry rarity
UNDATED (AP) — A group of Google engineers announced Monday they have formed a union, creating a rare foothold for the labor movement in the tech industry.
About 225 employees at Google and its parent company Alphabet are the first dues-paying members of the Alphabet Workers Union. They represent a fraction of Alphabet’s workforce, far short of the threshold needed to get formal recognition as a collective bargaining group in the U.S.
Its members say they want more of a voice not just on wages, benefits and protections against discrimination and harassment but also broader ethical questions about how Google pursues its business ventures.