Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks pause as investors gauge earnings, await Biden speech

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are little changed in midday trading on Wall Street as investors take in a big wave of earnings reports from major U.S. companies. Investors are also looking ahead to an announcement on interest rate policy from the Federal Reserve and a prime-time speech from President Joe Biden to lay out his $1.8 trillion spending plan. The S&P 500 index was up 0.1%, with companies slightly more companies falling than rising. Google’s parent company jumped 4% after the online giant reported that its profit more than doubled as digital advertising soared. Bond yields were relatively stable.

YUM-RESULTS

Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell sales bounce as restrictions ease

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Yum Brands’ first-quarter profit more than tripled from a year ago. Sales were bolstered by strong performances from its Pizza Hut and KFC brands in the U.S. The parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut earned $326 million, or $1.07 per share, for the period ended March 31. A year earlier it earned $83 million, or 27 cents per share. The year-ago period was hampered by a hefty goodwill impairment charge related to its acquisition of Habit Burger Grill.

BOEING-RESULTS

Boeing posts 1Q loss, takes a hit on Air Force One work

UNDATED (AP) — Boeing is posting another loss as the pandemic continues to undercut demand for new planes and the company deals with more problems around its 737 Max jetliner. Boeing Co. says it lost $537 million in the first quarter. That’s less than the company lost a year ago but still more than analysts expected. Since the quarter ended, Boeing has suffered a new setback with its 737 Max jetliners, more than 100 of which are now parked again because of issues around electrical grounding of some parts. CEO David Calhoun says 2021 is an “inflection point” for Boeing, with distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 picking up and helping the airline industry.

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RESULTS

Norfolk Southern’s Q1 profit improves as economy recovers

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Norfolk Southern’s profit improved in the first quarter as the railroad hauled 3% more freight while the economy continued to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The railroad said Wednesday that it earned $673 million, or $2.66 per share, during the quarter. That was up from $381 million, or $1.47 per share, a year ago when Norfolk Southern’s profit was weighed down by a one-time charge of $385 million. Without that charge, profit was up 1%. The results beat Wall Street expectations. Norfolk Southern CEO Jim Squires said the reopening of the economy is providing “meaningful tailwinds” for the railroad.

TOYOTA-INDIANA INVESTMENT

Toyota to invest $803 million, 1,400 new jobs in Indiana

UNDATED (AP) — Toyota says it will invest $803 million and add 1,400 new jobs at its Indiana auto manufacturing plant so it can produce two new SUVs there, one of which will be the first Lexus made at the plant. The Japanese automaker says both new vehicles — which it calls “electrified” but would not say whether they will be pure electric or hybrid — will feature a “semi-automated driving system” that allows for hands-free driving in some situations. Drivers will also be able to park and un-park them from outside the vehicle using a smartphone.

CHINA-STEEL IMPORTS

China cuts steel import tariffs to push industry to improve

BEIJING (AP) — China has suspended some import duties on steel as part of a multiyear campaign to force the state-dominated Chinese industry to become more energy efficient and profitable. The Finance Ministry says import duties on crude steel, pig iron, recycled steel and some other products will be suspended May 1. It says export taxes of 15%-25% will be imposed on high-purity pig iron and other products. China produces about half the world’s steel but a slowdown in demand as an economic boom cooled after 2008 left excess production capacity and led to price-cutting wars, a surge in exports and heavy financial losses.

POLAND-COAL

Polish govt, unions initial plan to phase out coal by 2049

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The government of Poland has initialed an agreement with the coal mining industry Wednesday to phase out coal production by 2049. The deal marks the first time that the powerful coal mining sector in Poland has agreed to end its own existence. The plan includes subsidies that would soften the blow on the miners. Government and union representatives initialed the agreement on Wednesday. The action clears the way for the plan to go to the European Commission for approval. The final signing is expected in May. Many analysts say that continuing to produce coal until 2049 is far too long given the high environmental cost and with economic momentum moving toward renewable energy sources.

MICHIGAN PIPELINE-CANADA CONUNDRUM

Oil pipeline disputes raise tensions between U.S. and Canada

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Months after President Joe Biden snubbed Canadian officials by canceling Keystone XL, a showdown over a second crude oil pipeline threatens to further strain ties between the two neighbors. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has set a May 12 deadline for Canadian energy company Enbridge to shut down its Line 5, which delivers oil from Alberta to refineries in the U.S. Midwest and eastern Canada. Whitmer agrees with environmentalists who consider the pipeline an environmental hazard, mostly because one 68-year-old section crosses a channel linking two Great Lakes. Canadian officials say closing the pipeline would hurt the economy and cost jobs in both countries.

SENATE-POSTAL SERVICE

Senate panel approves Biden nominees to Postal Service board

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee has approved President Joe Biden’s three nominees to the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board. Ron Stroman is a former deputy postmaster general, Amber McReynolds leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute and Anton Hajjar is a former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union. The nominees need to be confirmed by the full Senate before taking positions on the board. The nominations could shake up the Postal Service at a time when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy pushes a controversial overhaul of mail operations. DeJoy is a major Republican Party donor. If approved, Biden’s three nominees would give Democrats and Democratic appointees a majority on the governing board.

PHILANTHROPY-GATES-VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

Gates helps launch drive for global vaccine distribution

UNDATED (AP) — A new mass fundraising campaign aims to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to Covax, the international effort to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. Called Go Give One, the campaign was launched Wednesday by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO Foundation, and corporate, religious, and world leaders. The campaign will contribute to the $3 billion in Covax funding needed to vaccinate almost 30 percent of people in 92 low-income countries sometime next year. That support will come from donors like those who contribute to the Go Give One campaign as well as cost-sharing agreements.

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES-VIA DRONE

Girl Scout cookies take flight in Virginia drone deliveries

UNDATED (AP) — A Google affiliate is using drones to deliver Girl Scout cookies in a Virginia community. The town of Christiansburg has been a testing ground for commercial delivery drones operated by Wing, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet. The company said it began talking to Girl Scout troops because they’ve been having a harder time selling Thin Mints and other iconic cookies because fewer people are out and about during the pandemic. It’s the latest attempt to build public enthusiasm for futuristic drone delivery as Wing competes against Amazon, Walmart, UPS and others to overcome its many technical and regulatory hurdles.

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