Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks slip in afternoon trading

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slipping in afternoon trading, as losses for big banks pull the S&P 500 off its record highs set last week. The S&P 500 was 0.6% lower.

Financial stocks were big weights amid worries about how much pain big banks will take following soured trades made by a major U.S. hedge fund. Stocks of energy producers were also weak after the price of oil slipped.

Treasury yields rose slightly, while a widely followed measure of nervousness in the stock market was climbing but remained close to its lowest level in a year.

EGYPT-SUEZ CANAL

Container ship freed from canal

SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — Salvage teams have finally freed a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in the Suez Canal for nearly a week. The work ends a crisis that clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways.

A flotilla of tugboats pulled the bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given, from the sandy bank with the aid of the tides. As the ship sailed, the tugboats blared their horns in jubilation.

The giant vessel headed toward the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south ends of the canal, where it will be inspected for damage. Officials also will inspect the area where the vessel ran aground to see if it is safe for shipping.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-JOHNSON & JOHNSON

Johnson & Johnson to give Africa 400M vaccines

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson says it’s agreed to provide up to 400 million doses of its one-dose COVID-19 vaccine to African countries, starting this summer.

The drugmaker said under its agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, the company will provide up to 220 million vaccine doses for the African Union’s 55 member countries, with delivery beginning in the July-to-September quarter. The trust will be able to order 180 million additional doses from J&J, for a total of up to 400 million shots through 2022.

The company’s vaccine still must receive authorization from regulators in the African countries, but the World Health Organization approved it for emergency use on March 12.

BIDEN-WIND FARMS

Biden boosts offshore wind energy, wants to power 10M homes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is ramping up efforts to sharply increase offshore wind energy along the East Coast. It is announcing progress on a huge wind farm planned off the New Jersey coast.

The goal is to generate enough offshore wind power to provide electricity for more than 10 million homes by 2030. Meeting the target could create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs. The White House says it could mean more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 related jobs.

The effort could help slow global warming by avoiding 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

MYANMAR-US-TRADE SANCTIONS

Reacting to bloody coup, US suspends trade deal with Myanmar

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is suspending a trade deal with Myanmar until a democratic government is restored to the Southeast Asian country after a bloody Feb. 1 coup.

The military overthrew the elected government, jailed Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders and killed and imprisoned protesters in the country also known as Burma. U.S.

Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the United States was immediately suspending “all U.S. engagement with Burma under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.″ Under the agreement, the two countries cooperated on trade and investment issue, a reward for the military’s decision to allow a return to democracy — a transition that ended abruptly with last month’s coup.

BOEING-SOUTHWEST AIR

Southwest Airlines orders 100 Boeing 737 Max planes

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines says it’s expanding its all-Boeing fleet with an order for 100 737 MAX airplanes.

The Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes that killed 346 people. Regulators in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Brazil and other countries have cleared the plane to resume flying after Boeing changed an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes.

Dallas-based Southwest expects aircraft capital spending of about $5.1 billion through 2026.

Under the deal, Boeing could build more than 600 new 737 MAX jets for the airline through 2031.

FRANCE-DIET PILLS

Paris court convicts, fines pharma firm for deadly diet pill

PARIS (AP) — A Paris court has handed hundreds of millions of euros in damages and fines to a French pharmaceutical company for its role in one of the nation’s biggest modern health scandals.

The court found Servier Laboratories guilty of manslaughter and other charges for selling a diabetes drug blamed for hundreds of deaths. The ruling capped a judicial marathon targeting Servier Laboratories and involving more than 6,500 plaintiffs.

The mammoth case centered on the diabetes drug Mediator. Servier was accused of putting profits ahead of patients’ welfare by allowing the drug to be widely and irresponsibly prescribed as a diet pill with deadly consequences. Servier argued that it didn’t know about the drug’s dangers.

HOUGHTON-MIFFLIN-NEWS CORP-SALE

News Corp. buys Houghton Mifflin Harcourt books division

NEW YORK (AP) — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is buying Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s book-publishing division, with titles by J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell, for $349 million.

News Corp. owns HarperCollins, one of the industry’s largest book publishers, which will operate the division.

The publishing industry is consolidating, with German media giant Bertelsmann’s purchase of rival Simon & Schuster in November for $2.2 billion shrinking the so-called Big Five of American publishing — which also includes HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan — to four. Agents and authors are worried that a concentration of power would mean less competition for book deals and smaller advances.

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