Major indexes open broadly higher; GameStop, AMC crumble
NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. indexes are broadly higher in afternoon trading, while GameStop and other stocks that have been on wild swings recently turned sharply lower. The S&P 500 added 1.8%, building on its gains from a day earlier. GameStop sank 45.7% in its latest bout of extreme volatility, and AMC Entertainment fell 37.8%. Several Big Tech companies were among the winners, as were several energy companies including Exxon Mobil and Marathon Petroleum, both of which reported better results than analysts were expecting. UPS rose after reporting record revenue. Treasury yields rose, as did crude oil prices.
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Schumer moves ahead on Biden virus aid, GOP talks continue
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is joining Senate Democrats for a virtual lunch Tuesday to discuss his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery package. Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with the senators during a private session. Both have urged lawmakers to take bold action to address the pandemic and economic crisis. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that senators will vote Tuesday on a first step toward approving Biden’s plan with or without Republican votes. The procedural vote would launch a lengthy budget process toward passage by March. Biden told Republican senators late Monday he’s unwilling to settle on too small a coronavirus aid package after meeting for two hours over their slimmed-down $618 billion proposal.
Biden moves to provide COVID vaccine to pharmacies
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations as new and potentially more serious virus strains are starting to appear. White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday the government will initially ship about 1 million doses to some 6,500 pharmacies around the country, starting next week. That’s expected to accelerate as drugmakers increase production. Drug stores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines, and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly.
France advises AstraZeneca shots for under 65
UNDATED (AP) — France’s top health advisory body is recommending the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine only be used on people under 65, citing lack of sufficient data about its effectiveness in older people. The European Medicines Agency authorized AstraZeneca’s vaccine for use in adults throughout the European Union on Friday, amid criticism the bloc is not moving fast enough to vaccinate its population. But health authorities in Germany, France and some other countries have raised concerns that not enough data exist to prove it works in older people. France’s High Authority for Health issued its guidance Tuesday. It says it will review this guidance when AstraZeneca has more data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.
Study: Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine appears safe, effective
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian scientists say the Sputnik V vaccine appears safe and effective against COVID-19. That’s according to early results of an advanced study published in The Lancet medical journal. The news is a boost for the shot that is increasingly being purchased by countries around the world who are desperate to stop the devastation caused by the pandemic. Researchers say their study involved about 20,000 people and showed the vaccine was about 91% effective. Scientists not linked to the research acknowledged that the quick rollout of the Russia vaccine was criticized for appearing to cut corners. But they said it was now clear that the Russian-made vaccine is another effective shot to fight the pandemic.
Official: Mexico nears approval of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico is on the verge of approving the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V following the publication of early results of an advanced study. Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell, the government’s pandemic spokesman, said Tuesday that the health ministry signed a contract Monday for 400,000 doses of Sputnik V that will arrive this month. Once approved, the Russian vaccine would become the third to receive emergency approval in Mexico. The regulating agency approved the Pfizer vaccine in December and AstraZeneca’s in January. Mexico turned to the Russian vaccine following delays in obtaining others it was counting on.
Trudeau says Canada will have coronavirus vaccine production
TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will eventually be able to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. Canada does not have domestic production but Trudeau expects to use vaccines made in Europe to vaccinate all Canadians who want to be vaccinated by September. He says the European Union is reassuring him that it will respect Canada’s contracts with Pfizer and Moderna. But Trudeau says Canada needs as much domestic capacity for vaccine production as soon as possible. Trudeau says two companies – Precision NanoSystems and Novavax – will manufacture vaccines in Canada eventually.
Pfizer swings to small profit as vaccines begin to roll out
UNDATED (AP) — Drugmaker Pfizer (FY’-zur), the first company to get U.S. emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine, swing to a small profit in the fourth-quarter as it started shipping vaccine doses. Pfizer said it expects roughly $15 billion this year in revenue from the two-dose vaccine. It won emergency clearance in mid-December from U.S. regulators and continues to stack up approvals in other countries and is in high demand as the global pandemic surges. Pfizer is reporting fourth-quarter net income of $594 million, or 10 cents per share. Adjusted earnings came to 42 cents per share, or 4 cents shy of Wall Street projections.
Online shopping surge delivers record revenue for UPS
NEW YORK (AP) — A surge in online shopping helped UPS post record revenue during the last three months of 2020. UPS and other delivery companies have benefited as more people shop online during the pandemic and avoid going to physical stores. Not only was the Atlanta company working to deliver gifts during the holiday season, but it also started shipping COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. UPS says the daily average number of packages it delivered rose nearly 11% during the quarter. Revenue rose 21% to $24.9 billion in the three months ending Dec. 31. It posted adjusted earnings of $2.66 per share, easily beating Wall Street expectations.
Boeing giving employee bonuses despite losing $12B last year
SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing Co. will pay out annual performance bonuses next month to most employees despite losing $12 billion over the last year during the coronavirus pandemic. The Seattle Times reports that most employees did not receive annual bonuses last year after the company lost $636 million in 2019 because of the grounding of the 737 MAX by the Federal Aviation Administration. In response, the company changed the structure of its incentive plan, tying its financial goals to the timing of the first delivery of a 737 MAX after its ungrounding. The company’s bonuses were previously based on profits.
HARD ROCK CASINO-BONUSES
Hard Rock casino bonuses thank workers during pandemic
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Hard Rock International is handing out cash bonuses to its workers in several states to thank them for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. The global casino and hospitality company is among numerous U.S. companies that have handed out cash bonuses or increased pay for workers during the pandemic. Hard Rock Chairman and CEO Jim Allen says the company is giving out bonuses in locations besides New Jersey and Florida. He would not say where, or indicate what percentage of the company’s worldwide workforce is getting them. He says they are a thank-you for good customer service, and an acknowledgement of the extra challenge posed by the pandemic.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SUPERMARKET CLOSURES
2 California supermarkets closing after city orders pay hike
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Kroger Co. will close two supermarkets in Southern California in response to a local ordinance requiring extra pay for certain grocery employees working during the coronavirus pandemic. The decision announced by the company Monday follows a unanimous vote last month by the Long Beach City Council mandating a 120-day increase of $4 an hour for employees of supermarkets with at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 15 in Long Beach. Kroger says it will close a Ralphs market and a Food 4 Less on April 17. The company says the stores have been struggling for a long time and the closures are permanent.
FTC says Amazon took $62 million in tips from drivers
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is paying nearly $62 million to settle charges that it took tips from its delivery drivers. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that for more than two years, Amazon didn’t pass on tips to drivers, even though it promised shoppers and drivers it would do so. The FTC said Amazon didn’t stop taking the money until 2019, when the company found out about the FTC’s investigation. Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The online shopping giant will pay $61.7 million to settle the charges, which the FTC said will go back to drivers.
Uber acquiring Drizly for $1.1B
NEW YORK (AP) — Uber is bringing the booze. Mobile ride-hailing company Uber said Tuesday that it’s acquiring the alcohol-delivery platform Drizly for $1.1 billion in stock and cash. Uber expects more than 90% of the consideration to be paid to Drizly stockholders in shares of Uber common stock and the remainder paid in cash. Boston-based Drizly formed about eight years ago and delivers alcohol in 26 U.S. states where it is legal. Upon closing of the deal, expected in the first half of this year, Drizly will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber.
Tesla to fix touch screens, ending spat with US regulators
DETROIT (AP) — After refusing a request from U.S. safety regulators, Tesla has now agreed to recall about 135,000 vehicles because the large touch screens can go dark. The electric car company says it will recall certain 2012 through 2018 Model S sedans and 2016 through 2018 Model X SUVs to fix the problem. The failing touch screens can disable the backup cameras and cause the windshield defrosters to malfunction. Last month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started the process of taking Tesla to court to force the recall. But Tesla agreed to the recall after getting a letter from the agency. The recall was detailed in documents posted Tuesday on the agency’s website.
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