Stocks edge higher
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are edging higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street as investors continue to monitor the economic recovery and rising inflation. A variety of companies that rely on consumer spending made solid gains. Dick’s Sporting Goods surged after reporting a surge in first-quarter sales and solid earnings as team sports returned. Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch also made gains on similarly strong financial results. The gains were kept in check by lagging healthcare company stocks. Markets have been bumpy over the last few days as investors move past a stellar corporate earnings season and await additional clues on economic growth.
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Amazon to buy MGM, studio behind James Bond and ‘Shark Tank’
NEW YORK (AP) — Online shopping giant Amazon is buying MGM, the movie and TV studio behind James Bond, “Legally Blonde” and “Shark Tank,” with the hopes of filling its video streaming service with more stuff to watch. Amazon is paying $8.45 billion for MGM, making it the company’s second-largest acquisition after buying grocer Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion in 2017. The deal is the latest in the media industry that’s aimed at boosting streaming services to compete against Netflix and Disney+. AT&T and Discovery announced last week that they would combine media companies, creating a powerhouse that includes HGTV, CNN, Food Network and HBO.
Ford: Electric vehicles to be 40% of global sales by 2030
DETROIT (AP) — Ford says it expects 40% of its global sales to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030 as it adds billions to the amount it’s spending to develop them. During a presentation to Wall Street on Wednesday morning, the automaker says it will add about $8 billion to its EV development spending from this year to 2025. That would bring the total to nearly $20 billion as Ford begins to develop and build batteries in a joint venture with SK Innovation of Korea. The company also announced it would create a separate business called Ford Pro to focus on commercial fleet buyers. It also expects to have about 1 million vehicles capable of getting over-the-internet software updates this year. Ford says it will have more vehicles with the feature than Tesla by July of 2022.
Court orders Royal Dutch Shell to cut net emissions by 45%
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions by net 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels in a landmark case brought by climate activist groups. The ruling Wednesday by The Hague District Court could set a precedent for similar cases against polluting multinationals around the world. The court ruled that the Anglo-Dutch energy giant has a duty of care to reduce emissions and that its current reduction plans are not concrete enough. Shell says it expects to appeal the decision. The case is the latest in a string of legal challenges filed around the world by climate activists, but it is believed to be the first targeting a multinational company.
Exxon: At least 2 board members lose seats in climate fight
NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil’s shareholders have voted to replace at least two of the company’s 12 board members with directors who are seen as better suited to fight climate change, bolster Exxon’s finances and guide it through a transition to cleaner energy. The results, which Exxon called preliminary, were announced by the company after its annual shareholder meeting Wednesday. The company said that because the complexities of the voting process, inspectors might not be able to certify final voting results for “some period of time.” Regardless of the final tally, the outcome represents a setback for Exxon’s leadership. It coincides with growing pressure on publicly traded companies to more urgently revamp their businesses to address what critics see as a intensifying global crisis.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-PUBLIC OPTION
Leading Dems seek input on ‘public option’ health care plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two leading congressional Democrats are calling for ideas on a “public option” health insurance plan, a campaign promise of President Joe Biden’s that faces long odds politically. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey say the wide-ranging request they issued Wednesday is a first step toward crafting legislation. A new public health plan modeled on Medicare has been a longstanding goal for liberals and Biden embraced it in the 2020 presidential campaign. But insurers oppose the idea and hospitals and doctors are wary. Republicans are likely to resurrect charges of a lurch toward “socialism.”
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW YORK
In NY, vaccinated teens can enter raffle for free college
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that vaccinated kids aged 12 to 17 will have a chance to win a full ride to public universities and colleges in the state. The state will raffle off 50 scholarships, which would cover four years of tuition, room and board, books and supplies. New York will hold weekly drawings on Wednesday to randomly select 10 winners. Parents or guardians can enter children who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since May 12. Schools across the country are using mascots, food trucks and prize giveaways to try to get kids vaccinated before school lets out for the summer.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TRAVEL PASSPORTS
Travelers may soon need to carry digital vaccine certificates
LONDON (AP) — Travelers may soon need to carry digital vaccination certificates alongside suitcases and boarding passes. Keen to avoid losing another summer of tourism revenue to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union, some Asian governments and the airline industry are scrambling to develop so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports to help kickstart international travel. The programs would allow travelers to use mobile phone apps to prove they’ve been vaccinated and to avoid onerous quarantine requirements at their destinations. But the multiple efforts underscore the lack of one central international system to electronically verify vaccination status. The projects also face technical challenges, while questions about privacy and vaccine inequality linger.
EU seeks big penalties in suit over AstraZeneca deliveries
BRUSSELS (AP) — Lawyers for the European Union have accused vaccine producer AstraZeneca in a Brussels court of diverting doses to other nations when it had promised them for urgent delivery to the 27 member countries. AstraZeneca’s contract with the EU’s executive arm foresaw an initial 300 million doses being distributed with an option for another 100 million. The doses were expected to be delivered throughout 2021. A lawyer for the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said Wednesday that about 60 million have been delivered so far. While the bloc insists AstraZeneca has breached its contractual obligations, the company says it has fully complied with the agreement, arguing that vaccines are difficult to manufacture.
France praises YouTubers over foiled Pfizer vaccine smear
LE PECQ, France (AP) — The French government has offered a resounding thumbs up to YouTubers and other social media influencers who resisted a mysterious effort to recruit them for a smear campaign against the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Multiple France-based influencers with sizable audiences on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms said they were contacted with offers of hush-hush payments to make bogus claims about supposed deadly Pfizer vaccine risks. YouTuber Léo Grasset, among those contacted, said the shady advertising agency that sought to recruit him “wanted me to talk about the Pfizer vaccine in a way that would be detrimental to the Pfizer vaccine reputation.” He and others said they refused. They earned praise on Wednesday from French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
WhatsApp sues Indian government over new internet rules
NEW DELHI (AP) — The messaging app WhatsApp has sued the Indian government seeking to stop new rules that would require it to make messages “traceable” for external parties. WhatsApp is arguing that government rules regarding the traceability of messages are unconstitutional and undermine the fundamental right to privacy. The lawsuit follows sweeping regulations for technology companies announced in February that hold them more accountable for content shared on their platforms. The new regulations require internet platforms to erase content authorities deem to be unlawful and to help with police investigations, including identifying the originators of so-called “mischievous information.”
FACEBOOK-INSTAGRAM-HIDING LIKE COUNTS
Facebook, Instagram will now let you hide ‘like’ counts
UNDATED (AP) — If you post a photo to social media and you don’t know how many people liked it, did you really post it? Instagram and Facebook users can now find out. Beginning today, those on both services will be able to hide the numbers that show how many people liked their posts and photos. After a test the company announced last month, users will be able to flip a switch that hides public like counts. The feature will be available to Instagram users today and to Facebook users in the coming weeks.
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS-RESULTS
Game on! Dick’s rallies on the return of team sports
UNDATED (AP) — A return to team sports is giving Dick’s Sporting Goods a lift in its first quarter as sales more than doubled. The company also raised its full-year outlook. For the period ended May 1, Dick’s sales more than doubled to $2.92 billion. While the company continued to capitalize on strong demand for products related to golf, outdoor activities, home fitness and active lifestyle, President and CEO Lauren Hobart said in a statement that the chain “also saw a resurgence in our team sports business as kids began to get back out on the field after a year in which many youth sports activities were delayed or canceled.”
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