NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are mixed in afternoon trading on Wall Street. The S&P 500 was slightly lower, pulled down by makers of consumer products, healthcare companies and utilities, while the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq were edging higher. Investors remain focused on the future of the COVID-stricken economy and the potential for more stimulus to fix it. Small-company stocks rose far more than the rest of the market, as they have done since the beginning of the year. Those companies would benefit the most from a pickup in the economy. In another sign that investors were anticipating growth and potentially higher inflation, Treasury yields continued to march higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.31%, though that’s still low by historical standards.
Existing home sales, and prices, rise again in January
UNDATED (AP) — Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes rose again last month, a sign that the housing market’s strong momentum from 2020 may be carrying over into this year. The National Association of Realtors says existing home sales rose 0.6% in January from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.69 million annualized units. Sales were up 23.7% from a year earlier and the strongest sales pace since October. Home prices also rose last month. The report showed that the U.S. median home price was $303,900 in January, an increase of 14.1% from a year earlier. At the end of January, there were only 1.04 million homes for sale, a decline of 26% and an all-time low.
Weather delays shipping vaccine
WASHINGTON (AP) — Extreme winter weather is dealing the first major setback to the Biden administration’s planned swift rollout of coronavirus vaccines just as the national vaccination campaign was hitting its stride. The disruptions caused by frigid temperatures, snow and ice left the White House scrambling to work with states to make up “lost ground.” White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt said Friday that the weather has led to a three-day delay in shipping vaccine, or about 6 million doses. Slavitt says the vaccine won’t spoil and is “safe and sound” in warehouses. The setback came as President Joe Biden was set to visit a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant near Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Friday.
G-7 vows ‘equitable’ world vaccine access, but details scant
LONDON (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers have promised to immunize the world’s neediest people against the coronavirus by giving money and precious vaccine doses to a U.N.-backed vaccine distribution effort. But the leaders are also under pressure over the pace of their vaccination campaigns at home, and they didn’t say exactly how much they were willing to share with the developing world, or when. Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the G-7 leaders met Friday that “no vaccination appointment in Germany is going to be endangered” by sending vaccines abroad. Wealthy nations have snapped up hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, while some countries in the developing world have little or none.
Back in Paris pact, US vows no more sidelining of climate
UNDATED (AP) — The United States has returned to the Paris climate accord. President Joe Biden told a virtual gathering of European leaders Friday that the world “can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change.” Global leaders applaud the United States’ formal return to the mostly voluntary 2015 agreement, saying it’s symbolic and important. They say they expect the U.S. to show leadership in the fight against warming by setting strong targets for carbon pollution cuts by 2030. The Trump administration announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord in 2019, but it didn’t take effect until Nov. 4, 2020.
Cities slammed by winter storms face new crisis: No water
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — States slammed by winter storms that left millions without power for days have traded one crisis for another. Broken water pipes brought on by record-low temperatures have created a shortage of clean drinking water, shut down airports and left hospitals scrambling. Many people finally have electricity back after a deadly blast of winter this week overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold for days. But now 7 million people in Texas have been ordered to boil their water before consuming it. Nearly all 161,000 residents in Jackson, Mississippi, lost water service. And Memphis’ airport canceled flights due to water pressure issues.
Texas governor’s biggest donors: Energy industry that failed
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants mandates that would require power plants to withstand extreme winter weather. The number of Texas residents still without electricity Friday was less than 200,000 after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures buckled the state’s electric grid. Abbott has laid much of the blame on the state’s grid operators and has called for investigations. The weather is blamed for more than 20 deaths in Texas.
Foundations turn to bond market in response to rising need
UNDATED (AP) — The California Endowment has become the latest private foundation to issue debt to cover a surge in grant making. The endowment is one of nine grant makers that have issued a total of $3 billion in debt since June to cover increases in their grant making. First out of the gate were the Ford, Doris Duke and MacArthur foundations. In addition to the California Endowment, the Bush, Kellogg, Mellon, and Rockefeller foundations and the UJA-Federation of New York are recent entries into the bond market.
UK top court gives Uber drivers benefits in landmark ruling
LONDON (AP) — The U.K. Supreme Court has ruled that Uber drivers should be classed as “workers” and not self-employed. Friday’s decision threatens the California company’s business model and holds broader implications for the so-called gig economy. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Uber’s appeal against a lower court ruling, handing defeat to the ride-hailing giant in the culmination of a long-running legal battle. The judges agreed that Uber drivers are “workers” under British law, therefore entitling them to benefits such as paid holidays and the minimum wage. Uber had argued that drivers were independent contractors.