The S&P 500 climbed 0.4% Monday, even though slightly more stocks fell than rose within the index. The Dow ended lower, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose. Traders are keeping a wary eye on rising coronavirus infections in various countries and a bumpy rollout of vaccinations in the U.S. Markets also are awaiting a meeting of the Federal Reserve which ends Wednesday and a deluge of corporate earnings reports.
Janet Yellen wins Senate approval as treasury secretary
WASHINGTON (AP) — Janet Yellen has been confirmed as President Joe Biden’s treasury secretary in an overwhelming Senate vote.
She is the first woman to hold the job in the 232-year history of the department. Yellen is a former chairwoman of the Federal Reserve and is expected to play a key role in gaining congressional approval of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The plan is running into stiff opposition from Republicans who believe the price tag is far too high. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the support for Yellen reflects “just how well suited she is to manage the economic challenges of our time.”
Businessman seeks to avoid prison in Giuliani-tinged case
NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida businessman who hired Rudy Giuliani to lend credibility to a fraud-busting company that was a fraud itself is seeking to avoid a prison sentence at his upcoming sentencing.
A lawyer for David Correia said in a submission to a judge Monday that his client is needed at home to take care of his wife and children. Correia has signed a plea deal that suggests he serve about three years in prison, but his attorney says no prison is necessary. And Correia maintains in a letter to the judge that he’s so changed his ways that even his wife recognized it and ended their separation.
Parnas and Igor Fruman, along with another defendant, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they made illegal contributions to politicians they thought could aid their political and business interests.
More cancellations for Carnival amid jumbled vaccine rollout
UNDATED (AP) — Carnival Cruise Line is canceling and delaying more U.S. trips.
The move comes as new cases of COVID-19 are averaging about 170,000 per day in the country amid a jumbled rollout of vaccines. Carnival’s planned seasonal service out of San Diego has been suspended until further notice, and cruises scheduled through April 2023 were canceled. The company said Monday that some trips from California to Hawaii will continue, but will sail from Long Beach instead. Carnival began warning travelers of cancellations on Friday.
California measure aims to pay off 80% of most unpaid rent
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s top two legislative leaders have pledged to pay off 80% of most people’s unpaid rent that has piled up during the coronavirus pandemic — but only if landlords agree to forgive the other 20%.
The proposal, which must be approved by the Legislature, could wipe out potentially billions of dollars in debt hanging over renters in the nation’s most populous state by using federal relief money to compel landlords to forgive debt. It also would extend a law scheduled to expire next Monday that bans landlords from evicting people as long as they pay at least 25% of their rent.
GAMESTOP STOCK SURGE
Smaller investors face down hedge funds, as GameStop soars
NEW YORK (AP) — A head-scratching David and Goliath story is playing out on Wall Street over the stock price of a money-losing video game retailer. An army of smaller-pocketed, optimistic investors is throwing dollars and buy orders at the stock of GameStop — in direct opposition to a group of wealthy investors who are counting on the stock price to plunge. GameStop’s stock soared nearly 145% in less than two hours Monday, only for the gains to disappear quickly afterward.
The struggling company based in Grapevine, Texas, has lost $1.6 billion over the last 12 quarters, and its stock fell for six straight years before rebounding in 2020. Analysts say the company will continue to flounder as sales of games continue to go online.
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES-UTILITY SETTLEMENTS
Utility to pay $2B settlement in deadly 2018 California fire
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California Edison will pay $2.2 billion to settle insurance claims from a deadly, destructive wildfire sparked by its equipment in 2018.
The utility acknowledged no wrongdoing. Edison said Monday that the agreement covers all claims in pending lawsuits from insurance companies related to the Woolsey fire that blackened 151 square miles of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Three people died in the November 2018 fire, and more than 1,600 homes and other buildings were destroyed. In addition, Edison said it’s finalized settlements from the December 2017 Thomas fire and mudslides a month later on land that burned.
PETS ON PLANE
No-fly list: Southwest last to ban emotional-support animals
DALLAS (AP) — Emotional-support animals are no longer free to roam about the cabin on Southwest Airlines.
The airline said Monday that it will let passengers bring trained service dogs in the cabin, but starting March 1, emotional-support animals are out. The airline says anyone who wants to bring a dog or cat on board after that will have to pay a fee and keep the animal in a carrier under a seat.
Other airlines have made similar changes in their animal policies. The Transportation Department says airlines don’t have to let passengers bring an animal on board for free by claiming it provides emotional support.