Update on the latest in business:


Stocks fall on Fed official’s interest rate comments

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are broadly lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street after a Federal Reserve official said that the nation’s central bank might need to raise interest rates as early as next year, sooner than the Fed’s latest estimate of possible rate increases in 2023. The S&P 500 index fell 0.8%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.2%, dragged down by technology companies and banks, while the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.5%. The S&P 500 is heading for its first weekly loss in the last four. Bond yields were slightly higher after the comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard, who was speaking on CNBC.


Republicans point to inflation in bid to retake Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gas prices have soared passed $3 per gallon. The costs of used cars and new furniture, airline tickets, department store blouses, beef and a burrito at Chipotle are all on the rise, too. Economists say the price increases are fueled by the aftereffects of a global pandemic and probably won’t last. But Republicans are hoping to storm into next year’s midterm elections arguing that key parts of the economy have deteriorated under President Joe Biden and a Democratic-controlled Congress. They say steep government spending has triggered inflation and that’s hurt the purchasing power of everyday Americans rather than triggering a promised boom.


EPA chief reinstates science advisory board he dismantled

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says he has fully reinstated one of two key advisory boards he dismantled earlier this year in a push for “scientific integrity” at the agency. The seven-member Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee includes four scientists who have served on the panel previously — two of whom were on the board when it was dismantled in March. Regan says the advisory panel will provide “credible, independent expertise to EPA’s reviews of air quality standards that is grounded in scientific evidence.″ He had said advisers appointed under former President Donald Trump were overly friendly to business.


Biden to announce 300M COVID-19 shots given in 150 days

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is marking another milestone in his quest to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. The White House says Biden will announce Friday that 300 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in the 150 days since he took office on Jan. 20. But as Biden marks a new milestone in the fight against COVID-19, he’s at risk of failing to meet another: his self-imposed target to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4. As part of the administration’s vaccination effort, Vice President Kamala Harris toured a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site in Atlanta on Friday.


US-Canada border restrictions extended until July 21

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s public safety minister says border restrictions on nonessential travel with the United States will be extended until July 21. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the move has been made in coordination with the U.S. He says Canada’s number one priority is to keep Canadians safe during the pandemic. The border between Canada and the U.S. remains closed to all nonessential travel. The restrictions were announced in March, 2020 in the early months of the pandemic and have been extended every month since. There are growing calls in the U.S. to open the Canada-U.S. border for nonessential travel like tourism, but under 20% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated now.


AstraZeneca, EU both claim victory in tussle over deliveries

BRUSSELS (AP) — AstraZeneca and the European Union have both claimed victory in a court tussle over allegations that the coronavirus vaccine-maker was not producing shots for the 27-nation bloc fast enough. The court found Friday that AstraZeneca had breached its contract with the European Commission. It ordered the company to deliver a cumulative total of 80.2 million doses by Sept. 27. The company says that’s far fewer than the 120 million shots the Commission was seeking by the end of June. AstraZeneca was seen as a key pillar of the EU vaccine rollout. Its contract with the Commission foresaw an initial 300 million doses being distributed. The Commission was satisfied that the judge ordered a strict vaccine delivery schedule.


AP-NORC poll: Many Americans resuming pre-virus activities

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Many Americans are relaxing precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and resuming everyday activities, even as some worry that coronavirus-related restrictions were hastily lifted. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Majorities of Americans who were regularly doing so before the pandemic say they’re returning to bars or restaurants, traveling and attending live events. Just 21% are very or extremely worried about a COVID-19 infection in their inner circle, and just 25% are highly concerned that the lifted restrictions will lead to additional COVID-19 infections in their community.


Bourbon tourism shaking off pandemic slump in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) —With tourists flocking to distilleries, concerns about a pandemic hangover for Kentucky’s world-famous bourbon industry are quickly evaporating. Heaven Hill Distillery recently opened a $19 million tourist center in Kentucky bourbon country and demand is already overflowing. Distillery officials say reservations are filling up quickly to learn about whiskey making and sample its spirits. It’s a similar story for the numerous other distilleries in the region that last spring were temporarily closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a year later, the businesses are facing overwhelming demand for tours and Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory predicts bourbon tourism will quickly rebound to pre-pandemic levels.


Iowa’s high court stops lawsuit over farm runoff pollution

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A sharply divided Iowa Supreme Court on Friday stopped a lawsuit aimed at reducing the flow of fertilizer and hog farm waste into the state’s river and streams, finding that limiting pollution from farms was a political matter and not one for the courts. The 4-3 decision handed a significant defeat to environmental groups hoping to get the chance to prove that Iowa should scrap its voluntary farm pollution policy, order new mandatory limits on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution and stop construction of new hog barns. It is the latest court rejection of an attempt to force the nation’s leading corn and pork producing state to clean up farm pollutants from its major rivers that provide drinking water to hundreds of thousands of Iowans.


Mexican elderly lose work as grocery baggers, protest

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic and changing consumer habits threaten to put an end to a decades-old practice of allowing elderly people in Mexico to earn extra income as grocery store baggers. Baggers over 60 had expected to return to stores last month as pandemic restrictions eased in Mexico City. But Walmart de Mexico, the country’s biggest retailer, announced this week that they wouldn’t be allowed back. The retail chain said Mexico City’s ban on plastic bags and the pandemic meant customers no longer want other people touching their groceries. The volunteer baggers got tips, but not wages. Many have held protests outside stores, saying the bagging work helped them psychologically and financially.

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