Morning gains fade in afternoon
NEW YORK (AP) — A morning gain on Wall Street is fading away in afternoon trading, leaving major indexes mixed. Investors are still trying to parse emerging signs of inflation and judge whether they will be transitory, as the Federal Reserve thinks they will. The S&P 500 was flitting between small gains and losses, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 0.1%. The S&P 500 remains slightly below the record high it set more than a week ago. The benchmark index has recovered all its losses from last week, when the Fed’s comments on eventually tapering its support for the economy raised anxiety levels in the markets.
NEW HOME SALES
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US new home sales drop 5.9% in May, second monthly decline
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes fell in May for a second month, dropping a bigger-than-expected 5.9%. The Commerce Department says last month’s decline pushed sales down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 769,000. The median price of a new home sold in May rose to $374,400, up 18.1% from a year ago. The report on new home sales followed a report yesterday from the National Association of Realtors that sales of existing homes fell for a fourth straight month in May.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SMALL BUSINESS-INFLATION
Inflation poses new challenge for pandemic-weary businesses
NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses that endured shutdowns and revenue drops during the COVID-19 outbreak now must contend with another crisis: spiking prices for goods and services that squeeze profits and force many owners to pass the increases along to customers. Surging demand from consumers for a wide range of products during the pandemic has driven up prices for finished goods as well as raw materials, supplies and equipment. Product shortages and bottlenecks in supply chains have added to the costs. Also in the mix: intense competition for workers that has some companies paying more to attract new hires and retain current staffers.
Big US banks to employees: Return to the office vaccinated
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s big investment banks are sending a message to their employees this summer: Get back into the office and bring your vaccination card. Morgan Stanley said this week that all employees will be required to attest to their vaccination status. Those who are not vaccinated will be required to work remotely, which could potentially put their jobs at risk, since the bank’s top executives have said they want everyone back in the office by September. New York-based Morgan Stanley is one of several big banks requiring employees to return to the office and also provide documentation of having received a coronavirus vaccine or making a formal declaration confirming vaccination.
Longtime Southwest Airlines CEO will step down next year
DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines said Wednesday that longtime CEO Gary Kelly will step down in February and be succeeded by another veteran at the nation’s fourth-largest airline. The new CEO will be Robert Jordan, the executive vice president of corporate services. Southwest said Kelly, 66, plans to remain executive chairman at least through 2026. Change at the top comes as Southwest and other airlines are starting to recover from the pandemic. Southwest is heavily geared to vacationers flying within the U.S. or to nearby countries, and it has navigated the downturn better than most. Thanks to federal pandemic relief, it turned a small profit in the first quarter of this year, and it has added many new leisure-travel destinations.
SUPREME COURT-MORTGAGE OVERSEER
Supreme Court: Mortgage overseer structure unconstitutional
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that the structure of the agency that oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac violates separation of powers principles in the Constitution. The justices have sent the case involving Federal Housing Finance Agency back to a lower court for additional proceedings. That agency oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and was created during the 2008 financial crisis. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the president will nominate a new head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency after the Supreme Court decision, but she isn’t giving a timeline.
High court backs businesses challenging California labor law
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has sided with California agriculture businesses in their challenge to a state regulation that gives unions access to farm property in order to organize workers. As a result of the ruling, California will have to modify or abandon the regulation put in place in 1975 after the efforts of labor leader Cesar Chavez. The justices ruled 6-3 along ideological lines for the agriculture businesses. The decision is another potential setback for unions as a result of a high court decision. The case involved a regulation that granted unions access to farms and other agriculture businesses for up to three hours per day, 120 days per year, in order to organize workers.
SUPREME COURT-STUDENT SPEECH
Justices rule for cursing cheerleader over Snapchat post
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that a Pennsylvania public school wrongly suspended a cheerleader over a vulgar social media post. The court voted 8-1 Wednesday in favor of Brandi Levy, who was a 14-year-old high school freshman when she expressed her disappointment over not making the varsity cheerleading team on Snapchat with a string of curse words and a raised middle finger. Levy was not in school when she made her post but was suspended from cheerleading activities for a year anyway. The high court ruled the suspension violated Levy’s First Amendment rights. But the justices did not foreclose schools from disciplining students for what they say off campus.
Panel pushes ahead legislation targeting Big Tech’s power
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel pushed ahead with ambitious legislation that could curb the market power of tech giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple and force them to sever their dominant platforms from their other lines of business. Conservative Republican lawmakers haggled over legislative language and pushed concerns of perceived anti-conservative bias in online platforms but couldn’t halt the bipartisan momentum behind the package. The drafting session by the House Judiciary Committee is an initial step in what promises to be a strenuous slog through Congress. Many Republican lawmakers denounce the market dominance of Big Tech but don’t support a wholesale revamp of the antitrust laws.
Spanish court OKs extradition of McAfee to the U.S.
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s National Court has approved the extradition of detained antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee to the United States, where he is wanted on tax-related criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years. The decision can be appealed and the final extradition will need to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet. Tennessee prosecutors charged 75-year-old McAfee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary. The entrepreneur was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport.
Warren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation
NEW YORK (AP) — Warren Buffett resigned Wednesday as trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which says it will announce plans in July to answer questions raised about its leadership structure. The announcement from Buffett comes weeks after Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage but would continue to jointly run the foundation. It’s one of the largest charitable foundations in the world. Buffett also said Wednesday that he is halfway to reaching his goal of giving away the entirety of his shares in Berkshire Hathaway, his company. He says he’s donating another $4.1 billion in shares to five foundations.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-JIM BAKKER
Jim Bakker, his church settle lawsuit over COVID-19 claims
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Jim Bakker and his southwestern Missouri church will pay restitution of $156,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused the TV pastor of falsely claiming that a health supplement could cure the coronavirus. Missouri court records show that a settlement agreement was filed Tuesday. It calls for refunds to people who paid money or gave contributions to obtain a product known as Silver Solution in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The settlement prohibits Bakker and Morningside Church Productions from advertising or selling Silver Solution as a treatment for any illness. Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed suit in March 2020.
Early agreement reached in dispute over Suez Canal ship
CAIRO (AP) — The owners and insurers of the giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week earlier this year have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ over their dispute with canal authorities. That’s according to representatives Wednesday from both sides of the dispute. Stann Marine, the lawyers representing the vessel’s owners and insurers, and a spokeswoman for the Suez Canal Authority’s media office both confirmed the development. Neither elaborated on what the agreement would entail.The dispute centers on the compensation amount the Suez Canal Authority is claiming for the salvage of the vessel Ever Given, which ran aground in March, blocking the crucial waterway for six days.
Iran: ‘Sabotage attack’ on civilian nuclear center thwarted
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian state TV says that authorities have thwarted a “sabotage attack” on the country’s civilian nuclear program, without providing further information. The report Wednesday said the attempted attack against a building belonging to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization inflicted no damage. Iranian media offered no details on the kind of attack, saying only that the move targeted a sprawling nuclear center located in Karaj city, just some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Tehran. The reported sabotage attack follows several suspected incidents targeting Iran’s nuclear program that have heightened regional tensions in recent months.
Aging Japanese nuclear reactor restarted after a decade
TOKYO (AP) — A more than 40-year-old nuclear reactor in central Japan which suffered a deadly accident has resumed operation after being taken offline for a decade after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Kansai Electric Power Co. says the reactor in Fukui prefecture went back online Wednesday after workers removed control rods inside the reactor. The reactor, which started operation in 1976, is one of Japan’s oldest. It’s one of three operated by Kansai Electric that were granted extensions to operate beyond their initial 40-year life. It is the first of the three to resume operation since meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant prompted extended safety checks and tougher standards at all Japanese reactors.
Lego makes experimental brick from recycled plastic bottles
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish toymaker Lego has presented its first building bricks made from recycled drinks bottles — an experimental project that if successful could eventually go into production. In a statement, the group said the prototype uses plastic from discarded bottles from the United States. On average, a one-liter bottle provides enough raw material for ten Lego bricks with two rows of four studs, said the company which is based in Billund, western Denmark. Lego said its team will continue to carry out tests over at least a year and then assess whether to move to the pilot production phase.
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