NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in afternoon trading on Wall Street, pulling the overall market out of its week-long rut. Most of the losses for the S&P 500 have been erased near the end of a choppy week. Investors continue to focus on individual company earnings, getting results late Thursday from chip giant Intel and, on Friday, companies like American Express and Honeywell. Technology stocks and banks led much of the gains. Bond yields ticked higher. Investors are weighing economic growth against threats from the pandemic and worries about changes in tax policy.
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AmEx sees drop in revenue as pandemic slows travel, dining
NEW YORK (AP) — American Express saw its first-quarter profits rise sharply, but the company saw a significant drop in revenue as fewer customers used their credit cards and those with balances paid down debt. The company earned $2.24 billion, or $2.74 a share, compared with a profit of $367 million, or 41 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. American Express’ bottom line took a hit in the pandemic, with fewer Americans traveling, dining out, entertaining or shopping. Spending on corporate and individual charge and credit cards has dropped, and those who kept a revolving balance have paid off their debts. Revenues at AmEx were down 12% from a year earlier.
Biden envisions clean energy jobs as summit ends
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has wrapped up his two-day climate summit, saying the climate crisis has created an opportunity to remake the global economy and produce millions of jobs in clean energy and technology. Speaking at the White House as the virtual summit concluded Friday, Biden asked, “Was there anything else you can think of that could create as many good jobs going into the 21st century?” Biden says the climate crisis also provides an opportunity for the U.S. to work with longtime rivals such as Russia. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says the next 10 years are crucial to slow global warming and that “this has to be the decade of decision.″
NEW HOME SALES
New home sales surged 20.7% in March to 1.02 million
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes surged 20.7% in March, rebounding from a drop in February caused in part by severe winter storms in many parts of the country. The Commerce Department reports that sales climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million last month after having fallen 16.2% in February. The median sales price of a new home sold in March was $330,800, up only 0.8% from the median sales price a year ago. The big jump in new home sales stands in contrast to sales of existing homes, which fell for a second consecutive month in March, a drop that was blamed on a lack of supply which has pushed exiting home prices to new highs.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-RENTAL ASSISTANCE
How struggling households can get federal rental assistance
UNDATED (AP) — An estimated 8.8 million Americans are behind on their rent, according the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While relief efforts have staved off some of the housing crisis, rent is still going to come due. The federal government has approved two rounds of rental assistance, worth more than $46 billion total, that is slowly making its way to renters. The money for the second round will begin going out in May. But renters may need help navigating the system to access the aid, which is doled out at a state, territory, tribal or local level.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-J&J VACCINE
US health panel reviews J&J vaccine pause over rare clots
UNDATED (AP) — U.S. authorities are weighing whether to resume the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than a week after a pause was issued out of an abundance of caution. A government advisory panel is discussing a possible link between J&J’s shot and a handful of vaccine recipients who developed highly unusual blood clots. New guidance is expected later in the day. European regulators earlier this week allowed the rollout of J&J after concluding the benefits of the single-dose vaccine outweigh what appears to be an exceedingly rare risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking to its advisers to help determine how big any risk really is.
EU agency says people should get 2nd dose of AstraZeneca too
LONDON (AP) — The European Medicines Agency says people who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine should also get the second one despite the rare risk of blood clots that have been linked to the shot. In guidance issued on Friday, the European Union drug regulator said people should continue to get a second AstraZeneca dose four to 12 weeks after their first shot. The Amsterdam-based drug regulator for the 27-nation EU said earlier this month that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clotting disorders. But it said the benefits of getting the shots outweighed the risks.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-MEDICAL MASKS
FDA: N95 masks, now plentiful, should no longer be reused
UNDATED (AP) — Medical providers may soon return to using one medical N95 mask per patient, a practice that was suspended during the pandemic due to deadly supply shortages. The Biden administration says there are now adequate supplies of N95 masks, and that hospitals and health care facilities should transition away from rationing the safety equipment. The National Nurses Union, the largest professional association of registered nurses in the country, calls the new guidance “a tiny step in the right direction” but “ultimately fails” to protect nurses because it allows employers to use their discretion about what normal N95 supply is.
Biden taps Montana environmentalist for US public lands boss
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A longtime environmental advocate and Democratic aide has been nominated by President Joe Biden to oversee roughly a quarter-billion acres of federally owned land in Western states. It’s the latest in a string of political appointments raising concerns among Republicans as Biden moves to curtail energy production from public reserves. Biden nominated Tracy Stone-Manning of Missoula, Montana, to direct the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. The bureau has jurisdiction over vast reserves of oil, gas and coal and is set to play a key role in Biden’s commitment announced Thursday to cut climate warming emissions from fossil fuels by at least half by 2030.
EPIC GAMES-LAND DONATION
Epic Games CEO saves old growth forests in North Carolina
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The founder of Epic Games is donating a large stretch of North Carolina’s Appalachian highlands to be preserved as a haven for wildlife. The Asheville-based nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy says it will prevent development on the 7,500 acres in the Roan Highlands being donated by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the land transfer to the nonprofit group should be complete next year. Sweeney is best known as the overseer of Epic’s Fortnite and Rocket League video game franchises. But he’s also a conservation philanthropist. These mountaintop parcels in the Roan Highlands are valued at tens of millions.
Nonprofits gain funding from unusual source: Marijuana sales
UNDATED (AP) — Nonprofits have an unexpected new source of funding: State marijuana sales. Over the past two years, California has used some of the fees it collects from the sale of recreational marijuana to give grants to community organizations that serve people and communities harmed by the war on drugs. So far, the state has awarded nearly $100 million, a figure expected to jump to $175 million in May. The Golden State is not alone. Alaska and Illinois have similar programs, and as more states legalize the drug, additional programs could be on the way.
SPACE-X – CREW LAUNCH
SpaceX launches 3rd crew with recycled rocket and capsule
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has launched its third crew in under a year for NASA, this time using a recycled rocket and capsule. A Falcon rocket carrying four astronauts blasted into orbit early Friday morning from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule should reach the International Space Station on Saturday. It’s the same capsule that carried up the first SpaceX crew last May. And the rocket hoisted the second crew in November. SpaceX founder Elon Musk met briefly with the U.S., French and Japanese astronauts before they headed to the launch pad.
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