Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks follow Wall St higher, China exports surge

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks have followed Wall Street higher after Chinese exports rose by double digits. Investors are looking ahead to earnings reports that are expected to show strong profits for major banks. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

Encouraged by the spread of vaccination campaigns, investors appear at least temporarily to have shrugged off worries about the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

On Monday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.3% to a new high, led by banks, communications and consumer-oriented stocks. The indexes have hit multiple highs lately in choppy trading.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-J&J VACCINE

FDA adds warning about rare reaction to J&J COVID-19 vaccine

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators have added a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine about links to a rare and potentially dangerous neurological reaction.

The announcement Monday said it’s not entirely clear the shot caused the problem. The government said there have been reports of 100 people who got the shot developing an immune system disorder that can cause muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis. The reports represent a tiny fraction of the nearly 13 million Americans who have received the one-dose vaccine.

Regulators say the vaccines most used in the U.S., made by Pfizer and Moderna, show no risk of the disorder.

MEDICARE-ALZHEIMER’S DRUG

Medicare evaluating coverage for $56,000 Alzheimer’s drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is launching a formal process to decide whether to cover the new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. Its $56,000-a-year price tag and unproven benefits have prompted widespread criticism and a congressional investigation.

Even as Medicare made its announcement on Monday, the Democratic leaders of two House committees asked drugmaker Biogen to turn over reams of documents on how it developed and priced the drug, and on its dealings with FDA officials.

Medicare is already soliciting public comments and plans two hearings. A final coverage decision may not come until next spring.

CONGRESS-INFRASTRUCTURE

Sanders, Biden meet as infrastructure bill swells past $3.5T

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders says he and President Joe Biden are on the same page over a “transformative” infrastructure package.

The independent senator who chairs the Senate Budget Committee met privately Monday with Biden at the White House. Sanders is preparing a package that would unleash more than $3.5 trillion in domestic investments. Sanders and Democrats on his panel also huddled privately at the Capitol late Monday with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and key White House advisers. Congress is racing to put together a sweeping proposal financing infrastructure, family assistance and other programs for initial votes later this month.

BIDEN VS OIL-DRILLING APPROVALS

US drilling approvals increase despite Biden climate pledge

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Approvals for companies to drill for oil and gas on U.S. public lands are on pace this year to reach their highest level since George W. Bush was president.

That finding from an Associated Press analysis of government drilling data underscores President Joe Biden’s reluctance in the face of industry and Republican resistance to more forcefully curb climate-changing emissions from fossil fuels.

The Interior Department approved about 2,500 permits to drill on public and tribal lands in the first six months of the year. That includes more than 2,100 approvals since Biden took office January 20. New Mexico and Wyoming had the largest number of approvals.

CALIFORNIA-PESTICIDE LAWSUITS

California lawsuits say pesticide caused kids’ brain damage

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Lawsuits in California are seeking potential class-action damages from Dow Chemical and its successor company over a widely used bug killer linked to brain damage in children.

Chlorpyrifos (klor-PEER’-ih-fahs) is approved for use on more than 80 crops like oranges, berries, grapes and almonds. California banned sales of the pesticide last year. Some other states, including New York, have moved to ban it.

The lawsuits filed Monday together allege that at least 100,000 homes in the nation’s largest agricultural state may need to toss out everything from sofas to teddy bears because they are contaminated with the pesticide. The company has said it believes the product is safe.

UAW-VOLVO-TRUCK-STRIKE

Volvo Trucks to restart Virginia factory as strike continues

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Volvo Trucks North America says some striking workers have crossed picket lines at a southwestern Virginia factory as the company plans to restart production. Spokesman John Mies wouldn’t say how many United Auto Workers members went inside the factory in Dublin, Virginia, near Roanoke. But he says in an email it will take a few days to get assembly lines up and running at the heavy-truck plant. It employs about 2,900 UAW workers who began striking in April. Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg says about 10 workers entered the plant Monday, in addition to a handful who had crossed lines earlier.

VIRGIN GALACTIC-STOCK SALE

After Branson flight, Virgin Galactic slumps on stock sale

UNDATED (AP) — Virgin Galactic’s shares have turned sharply lower after the spaceflight company said it’s made arrangements to sell up to $500 million in stock.

The disclosure comes a day after founder Richard Branson briefly rocketed into space aboard Virgin’s winged space plane for the first time in what was the company’s highest-profile flight yet as it looks to begin taking up customers next year.

Trading in the stock was briefly halted shortly after the stock market opened. It ended the day down more than 17%. But it is still up 71.5% so far this year.

CHINA-TRADE

China’s June exports surge 32%, import growth slows

BEIJING (AP) — China is reporting that its exports surged in June while import growth slowed to a still-robust level as its economic rebound from the coronavirus leveled off.

Customs data show exports rose 32% to $281.4 billion, up from May’s 28% growth. Imports increased 37% to $229.9 billion, but that was down from the previous month’s explosive 51% rise.

China led the global recovery from the pandemic but domestic consumer and other economic activity is leveling off. China’s global trade surplus swelled 11% over a year earlier to $51.5 billion. The politically sensitive surplus with the United States expanded 11% to $32.6 billion.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-JAPAN-FUJIFILM

Fujifilm finds new niches, record profits amid pandemic

TOKYO (AP) — Scores of Japanese manufacturers less well known than Toyota and Sony are linchpins in world supply chains and innovation. One such company is Fujifilm, which is logging record profits thanks to diversification into a wide range of businesses, from drugs and cosmetics to advanced materials. It also still makes cameras, film and other types of imaging machines.

Leading those efforts was Shigetaka Komori, who recently stepped aside after 20 years to become an executive adviser to Fujifilm. He focused on leveraging the company’s film making technology, boosted by strategic acquisitions, to become a leader in biotechnology. That paid off when the pandemic struck.

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