Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rise on broad gains driven by banks, tech companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in afternoon trading on Wall Street, with technology companies and banks leading the way higher. The broad gains, if they hold, could help the major indexes avoid a second weekly loss as the market churns because of a tug-of-war between hopes for economic growth and concerns about rising inflation stunting that growth. Technology stocks are the biggest gainers. Bank stocks got a boost from some loosening of regulatory restrictions by the Federal Reserve and a continued rise in bond yields. Crude oil jumped and helped lift energy stocks.

CONSUMER SPENDING

Consumer spending dipped 1% as winter storms raked the US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Severe winter storms in much of the country helped push consumer spending down 1% in February with personal incomes falling sharply as well. The Commerce Department reported Friday that the drop in spending came after a big 3.4% gain in January. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for two-thirds of economic activity. Personal incomes, which provide the fuel for future spending increases, plunged 7.1% in February after a 10.1% surge in January which reflected distribution of millions of $600 individual payments. Incomes are expected to rebound in March with millions of $1,400 indiidual payments being distributed.

WEWORK-SPAC

A year after pandemic cleared out offices, WeWork is back

UNDATED (AP) — After a year in which a global pandemic turned offices across the world into ghost towns WeWork, the embattled communal office-space company, is making a second attempt at going public. The announcement Friday comes almost two years after WeWork’s first attempt at becoming a publicly traded company blew up in spectacular fashion, its founder and CEO ousted abruptly. This time the New York company becomes part of a SPAC wave and will seek a listing after merging with the special-purpose acquisition company BowX Acquisition. The agreement values WeWork at $9 billion plus debt, far below the $47 billion valuation given the venture in September 2019 when the IPO imploded after massive losses were revealed in regulatory filings.

EGYPT-SUEZ-CANAL

Maritime traffic jam grows outside blocked Suez Canal

SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — A maritime traffic jam grew to more than 200 vessels outside the Suez Canal and others began changing course as dredgers worked frantically to free a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in the waterway and disrupted global shipping. One expert says freeing the Ever Given could take up to a week in the best-case scenario. The Suez Canal Authority said it welcomed international offers to help free the vessel, including one from the United States, although it did not say what kind of assistance was offered. The EverGiven got wedged Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal north of the southern entrance near the city of Suez.

BIDEN-VACCINES

Aid groups call on Biden to develop plans to share vaccines

WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of nongovernmental organizations is calling on President Joe Biden to develop plans to share an expected surplus of hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world, once U.S. demand for shots is met. In a letter sent Friday and obtained exclusively by The Associated Press, the groups call on Biden’s administration to commit to sharing excess doses through the World Health Organization-backed COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access facility, or COVAX. The groups include the ONE Campaign, the International Rescue Committee, Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children. Biden has repeatedly said his primary focus is on ensuring all Americans can get vaccinated.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EUROPE-VACCINE PRODUCTION

EU medicines regulator approves new vaccine production sites

LONDON (AP) — The European Medicines Agency has approved new manufacturing sites for coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca in a move that could significantly boost Europe’s supply of the shots. In a statement published on Friday, the EU medicines regulator said it had approved sites in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland for the COVID-19 vaccines made by the companies. The new approvals come amid the 27-nation bloc’s struggles to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination and repeated delivery delays and manufacturing problems. In addition, the EMA said it was granting “more flexible storage conditions” to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — which was cleared on the basis that it needed ultra-cold freezer temperatures for storage and delivery.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EUROPE-J&J VACCINE

EU official: J&J vaccines to arrive in April

UNDATED (AP) — A senior European Union official says 55 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to EU member states in the second quarter of this year, starting next month. The EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, says the bloc will receive another 120 million doses of the single-shot jabs between July and September. It is one of four vaccines approved for use in the EU. Across the bloc, 52 factories are currently churning out vaccines, according to Breton. He says the EU will be producing 2 or 3 billion doses by end of year, making it the world’s top vaccine manufacturer. That will allow 70% of the EU population to be inoculated by mid-July.

GERMANY-VIRUS OUTBREAK

Officials urge vigilance as Germany sees 3rd infection wave

BERLIN (AP) — German health officials are warning that the country’s latest eruption of coronavirus cases has the potential to be worse than the previous two last year. They urged people to stay at home during the upcoming Easter break to help slow the rapidly rising numbers of new infections. Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters that if infections continue unchecked, Germany’s health system could be stretched to its limit in April. The head of Germany’s disease control center says the country is just at the “beginning of the third wave” of the pandemic. Germany reported 21,573 new cases on Friday, compared to a daily number of 17,482 a week earlier.

MED-VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHILDREN

Shots in little arms: COVID-19 vaccine testing turns to kids

UNDATED (AP) — COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out to adults who are most at risk from the coronavirus, but ending the pandemic will require vaccinating children too. Researchers are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure the shots are safe and work for each age. Pfizer and Moderna expect to release results soon showing how their two-dose vaccines performed in people ages 12 and older. The companies recently launched studies involving younger ages. In Britain, AstraZeneca began a study among 6- to 17-year-olds. And Sinovac recently announced it has submitted preliminary data to Chinese regulators showing its vaccine is safe in children as young as 3.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINE STUDY

Fauci: Vaccine study to involve college students

UNDATED (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci says scientists are trying to answer the two most pressing questions for millions of Americans already fully vaccinated against COVID-19: Can they become infected without showing any symptoms, and if so, can they transmit the coronavirus to someone else? Fauci says a large trial is under way involving 12,000 college students at more than 20 universities. Half the students will get the two-dose Moderna shot and the other half will initially serve as a control group, while getting the same vaccine four months later. All the students will keep an electronic diary, swab their noses daily and provide occasional blood samples. They’ll also provide the names of close contacts. Fauci says it may take about five months to get some answers.

VOTING COMPANY-LAWSUIT-FOX NEWS

Dominion Voting sues Fox for $1.6B over 2020 election claims

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed that the voting company rigged the 2020 election in an effort to boost faltering ratings. Friday’s defamation lawsuit is part of a growing body of legal action filed by the Denver-based voting company and other targets of false claims spread by President Donald Trump and his allies after Trump’s election loss to Joe Biden. Those claims have been blamed for spurring on rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. New York-based Fox News says it stands by its journalism and will defend itself against the claims.

VOLKSWAGEN-DIESEL EMISSIONS

VW to seek damages from former executives for diesel scandal

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen is seeking damages from two former top executives for their role in the diesel emissions scandal that cost the German automaker billions of euros and a hefty dent to its reputation. VW said after a board meeting Friday that it wants damages from ex-chief executive Martin Winterkorn and Rupert Stadler, the former head of its Audi brand, “on account of breaches of the duty of care under stock corporation law.” In its statement, the company didn’t specify the amount of damages it would seek. VW said a law firm the supervisory board had tasked with investigating liability issues reviewed millions of documents conducted hundreds of interviews and “concluded that negligent breaches of duty had occurred” by the two executives.

BROKERAGES-SERIAL FRAUD

Former top broker gets over 17 years for scamming clients

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania financial adviser who earned millions by pushing high-risk, high-fee investments on unsuspecting retirees has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison. A judge said Friday that Anthony Diaz took advantage of dozens of clients. Some of them lost their life savings or were unable to send their children to college as a result of the fraud. Diaz was handcuffed in the courtroom and led away to immediately begin serving his sentence. He has been living in Florida.

HARVARD-EPSTEIN FUNDING

Harvard punishes professor who had ties to Jeffrey Epstein

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A Harvard University professor who is accused of giving Jeffrey Epstein an office on campus will be barred from starting new research or advising students for at least two years. Harvard officials said Thursday that Martin Nowak will be allowed to continue teaching but that his research center will be shut down. A Harvard review found that Nowak violated school security rules. Nowak did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Epstein took his own life in a New York City jail in 2019 after being arrested on sex trafficking charges.

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