Update on the latest in business:


US stocks on track for solid gains for the week

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are higher on Wall Street, keeping major indexes on track to post their first weekly gain in three weeks. The S&P 500 was up 0.3% in afternoon trading, led by gains in technology and health care companies. It is on track for a 1.4% gain this week. Investors did not react harshly to hotter-than-expected inflation data. The Commerce Department said personal consumption expenditures, a measure of inflation used by the Federal Reserve, rose by 3.6% in April. Bond yields remained steady on the news. Investors will get additional guidance from Washington later Friday when President Biden unveils his $6 trillion budget.


US consumers boosted spending in April as inflation surged

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increased their spending by 0.5% in April, a slowdown after a massive gain in March which had been powered by distribution of billions of dollars in individual stimulus checks. Even with the slowdown from a 4.7% surge in spending in March, the April increase provided further evidence that consumers are driving a strengthening recovery from the pandemic recession. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, declined 13.1% in April. But the drop in income was expected, having followed a record 20.9% income gain in March that reflected billions in one-time stimulus checks to most adults.


CEO pay rises to $12.7M even as pandemic ravages economy

NEW YORK (AP) — The pandemic crushed the economy, but it was no match for CEO pay, which rose again last year. The typical pay package for CEOs at S&P 500 companies hit $12.7 million, up 5%. Some CEOs took salary cuts, hoping to broadcast they were sharing in the pain as they laid off or furloughed workers. But some boards of directors also rejiggered performance targets to make it easier for CEOs to earn bonuses. Others gave retention bonuses, saying they needed to hold onto CEOs’ leadership through the crisis. Across the rest of the economy, meanwhile, pay gains were much slower for workers.


Female CEOs saw ranks dwindle in 2020; median pay fell 2%

NEW YORK (AP) — Most of the women running the biggest U.S. companies saw their pay increase last year, even as the pandemic hammered the economy and many of their businesses. Despite those gains, however, the median pay for female chief executives actually fell about 2% in 2020. Because they are a small group, changes in pay for only a few can easily skew the overall figures — a fact that highlights how diversity has been slow to catch on in Corporate America’s corner offices. Of the 342 CEOs in the AP’s and Equilar’s compensation survey of S&P 500 companies, only 16 were women.


Social spending, business tax hike drive $6T Biden budget

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is proposing a $6 trillion budget for next year that fails to slow spiking government debt. It seeks tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for ambitious infrastructure and safety-net programs. Biden has already announced major plans on infrastructure and won a major victory on COVID-19 relief earlier this year. But Friday’s rollout tallies up the cost and incorporates them into the government’s existing budget framework, including Social Security and Medicare. That provides a fuller view of the administration’s fiscal posture. The government’s accumulated debt is topping a mammoth $28 trillion.


Senate R&D bill to counter China shelved by GOP opposition

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has shelved a big innovation bill aimed at making the U.S. more competitive with China and other countries. Voting expected Friday was postponed until June 8. The bill is key to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans. Some Republicans are trying to halt it. The measure includes $50 billion to shore up domestic computer chip manufacturing amid a shortfall that’s hit a range of industries. Proceedings came to a standstill late Thursday when Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and others protested the rush to finish and insisted on more changes. The Senate resumed Friday morning, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying he has “every intention of sticking it out until the job is done.”


Microsoft: SolarWinds hackers target 150 orgs with phishing

BOSTON (AP) — Microsoft says the state-backed Russian cyber spies behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign launched a targeted spear-phishing assault on U.S. and foreign government agencies and think tanks this week. It says they did so by gaining access to an email marketing account of the U.S. Agency for International Development and masquerading as the government body. A USAID spokeswoman says a forensic investigation was ongoing and the agency was working with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Microsoft says the hackers gained access to USAID’s account at Constant Contact. Microsoft said most of the attempts were automatically blocked by automated systems that marked them as spam.


Tanker’s impossible voyage signals new sanction evasion ploy

MIAMI (AP) — The Cyprus-flagged oil tanker Berlina was drifting near the Caribbean island of Dominica when the safety signals it’s required to transmit showed it stopping in its tracks and turning 180 degrees in just two minutes. It was an impossibly quick pivot for a ship that size. Even more intriguing: Around the same time the Berlina was pinging that location at sea, it was spotted loading crude oil in Venezuela, despite U.S. sanctions against such trading. Maritime experts say the Berlina’s impossible journey could represent the next frontier in the evolving methods rogue states use to hide ship movements while circumventing sanctions.


US blocks seafood from Chinese fleet for mistreating crew

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government has blocked imports of seafood from the fleet of a Chinese company that authorities say forced crew members to work in slave-like conditions. Customs and Border Protection says it will place an immediate hold on any imports linked to the more than 30 vessels operated by Dalian Ocean Fishing, under a U.S. law that bars goods suspected to have been produced with forced labor. Dalian hasn’t immediately responded to a request for comment. It’s the first time the U.S. has sought to block imports from an company’s entire fishing fleet. And it’s a sign that the CBP’s investigation found evidence of widespread abuse on Dalian vessels around the world.


US, Britain seek new WHO look into COVID origins in China

GENEVA (AP) — The United States and Britain are stepping up calls for the World Health Organization to take a deeper look into the possible origins of COVID-19, including a new visit to China where the first human infections were detected. WHO and Chinese experts issued a first report in March that laid out four hypotheses about how the pandemic emerged. It said the most likely scenario was that the coronavirus jumped into people from bats via an intermediary animal, and the prospect that it erupted from a laboratory was deemed “extremely unlikely.” The new push came after U.S. President Joe Biden instructed U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble” efforts to find information about how the pandemic emerged.


Biden starts holiday weekend by marking progress on virus

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — President Joe Biden started the Memorial Day weekend by visiting a rock climbing gym in northern Virginia as the state lifted all COVID-19 distancing and capacity restrictions at private businesses and much of the nation pushes toward a greater sense of normalcy. Biden sought to use the stop on Friday at Sportrock Climbing Centers to celebrate progress made as the country looks to turn the corner on the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 593,000 Americans and 3.5 million people worldwide. He praised Americans for doing their part. He thanked Americans who have already received vaccinations —about 51% of Americans are now fully vaccinated — and again urged Americans who haven’t to get their shot.


Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road for holiday

UNDATED (AP) — It’s going to be crowded at airports and on the road this Memorial Day weekend. Americans were hitting the road in near-record numbers at the start of the holiday weekend. More than 1.8 million people went through U.S. airports on Thursday, and that number could top 2 million over the weekend, the highest mark since early March of last year. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is warning travelers to expect long lines at airports. AAA expects a 60% jump in travel over Memorial Day last year despite higher prices for airline tickets, gasoline and hotels.


DHS says no passport plans

UNDATED (AP) — The Department of Homeland Security says there won’t be any federal vaccination database nor any mandate that requires people to get a single vaccination credential. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was asked Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” if there could be “vaccine passports for travel internationally, either into or out of the U.S.” He replied, “We’re taking a very close look at that.” A DHS spokesperson later clarified the comment by saying the agency is looking at how to ensure Americans traveling abroad have a quick and easy way to enter other countries.


$11 billion New York rail tunnel gets key federal approval

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A planned $11 billion tunnel seen as a key to train travel up and down the northeastern U.S. has received a key federal environmental approval. The record of the decision announced Friday by the Department of Transportation means the project to build a new Hudson River tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey can push ahead with engineering and design work. The project had been waiting three years since it completed its environmental studies. Stakeholders including Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have alleged the Trump administration delayed the approval for political reasons, a charge Trump’s administration denied. The existing tunnel is more than 110 years old and prone to problems and delays.

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