Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks higher as investors await US inflation data

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are mostly higher as investors wait for an update on U.S. inflation that has been stronger than expected. Shanghai and Tokyo advanced, while Hong Kong retreated.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed higher, snapping a five-day losing streak.

Investors were watching for August inflation data. Headline inflation stands above 5% as consumer and business activity revives. The price spike has prompted fears the Federal Reserve might feel pressure to roll back easy credit and other stimulus. But Fed officials say they believe the surge is temporary and they will keep interest rates low until a recovery is established.

CONGRESS-BUDGET

Democrats seek corporate, wealthy tax hikes for $3.5T plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats have unveiled a sweeping proposal for tax hikes on big corporations and the wealthy to fund President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan.

Congress is speeding ahead to shape the far-reaching package that touches almost all aspects of domestic life. The proposed top tax rate would revert to 39.6% on individuals earning more than $400,000, or $450,000 for couples. There would be a 3% tax on wealthier Americans making beyond $5 million a year. For big businesses, the proposal would lift the 21% corporate tax rate to 26.5%. The tax hikes are in line with Biden’s own proposals.

BIDEN

Biden turns to Colorado to pitch investments in clean energy

LONGBEACH, Calif. (AP) — President Joe Biden is preparing to pitch his massive domestic spending package with a visit to a renewable energy lab in Colorado.

Biden is highlighting how the investments in clean energy in his massive spending package will help combat climate change.

Today’s trip to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Denver will cap off the president’s two-day swing to the West, and offer him the chance to continue linking the need to pass the massive spending package to the urgent threat posed by climate change. Biden did that Monday by visiting areas of Idaho and California ravaged by wildfires.

PHILANTHROPY-PANDEMIC-IMPACT

Gates, Rockefeller warn leaders about pandemic’s impact

UNDATED (AP) — Leaders of the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations — grant makers that have committed billions of dollars to fight the coronavirus — are warning that without larger government and philanthropic investments in the manufacture and delivery of vaccines to people in poor nations, the pandemic could set back global progress on education, public health, and gender equality for years.

In an annual analysis of progress made toward development goals set by the United Nations on poverty, access to clean water, gender equality, and other indicators of well-being, the Gates Foundation found that the spread of the pandemic had significantly reversed progress made in recent years.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AUSTRALIA

Australia’s capital extends lockdown until Oct. 15

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s capital will remain locked down for a second month after the local government reported 22 new coronavirus infections.

The Australian Capital Territory locked down Aug. 12 after a single case linked to a Sydney outbreak of the virus’ delta variant was detected. Territorial Chief Minister Andrew Barr says Canberra’s lockdown will be extended until Oct. 15. Canberra is surrounded by New South Wales state, where Australia’s delta outbreak began when a limousine driver tested positive June 16.

Sydney is Australia’s largest city and has been locked since June 26. Before delta came to Canberra last month, the city of 430,000 people had not recorded a single case of coronavirus community infection since July 10, 2020.

CYBERSECUITY-NSO GROUP-APPLE

Apple fixes security hole reportedly used to hack an iPhone

BOSTON (AP) — Apple released a critical software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers said could allow hackers to directly infect iPhones and other Apple devices without any user action.

Security researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the flaw was exploited to plant spyware on a Saudi activist’s iPhone, and warned that it could allow hackers to similarly infect other Apple devices without any user action.

The researchers said the flaw was exploited by the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, Israel’s NSO Group; the company responded with a one-sentence statement saying it will continue providing tools for fighting “terror and crime.”

CHINA-US-STRANDED STUDENTS

Chinese students hit by US visa rejections amid tension

UNDATED (AP) — Chinese students are joining companies and individuals whose plans have been disrupted by U.S.-Chinese tension.

The Chinese government says more than 500 have been refused U.S. student visas under a policy issued by then-President Donald Trump to block Beijing from obtaining technology with possible military uses. Students in fields including finance and computer science complain the policy is applied too broadly and fume at what they say is the accusation they are spies.

China has appealed to Washington to discard the policy, which blocks visas for people who are affiliated with the Chinese military or universities deemed by Washington to be part of military modernization efforts.

CHINESE BUSINESSMAN-SECURITIES CHARGES

Chinese tycoon’s companies pay $539M in US securities case

NEW YORK (AP) — Three companies linked to a Chinese businessman who is a prominent critic of his country’s ruling Communist Party have agreed to pay $539 million to settle U.S. charges they conducted an illegal securities offering.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said companies linked to Guo Wengui raised some $487 million from 5,000 investors who bought stock in GTV Media Group Inc. and a digital asset called G-Coins or G-Dollars.

Guo, who lives in New York City, left China in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that ensnared people close to the businessman, including an intelligence official. He has rankled the ruling party by launching accusations of corruption on social media.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-PRESIDENT

Southwest’s president retires suddenly; didn’t get CEO job

DALLAS (AP) — The president of Southwest is retiring three months after being passed over for the CEO’s job.

Southwest said Monday that 60-year-old Tom Nealon will remain an adviser on environmental issues. He’s being replaced in the No. 2 job by Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven.

Both men were considered candidates to replace Gary Kelly as CEO. But in June, Southwest announced that Kelly would retire in February and be succeeded by another longtime Southwest executive, Robert Jordan.

KENTUCKY BOURBON-PRODUCER-STRIKE

Big bourbon producer Heaven Hill faces strike in Kentucky

UNDATED (AP) — Union workers are manning picket lines at bottling and warehouse operations of Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distillery.

Striking workers are upset over the prospect of expanded weekend shifts. The walkout is in its third day. It involves about 420 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23D. They voted last week to reject a new five-year contract offer and formed picket lines Saturday at Heaven Hill’s operations in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Heaven Hill produces Evan Williams, one of the world’s top-selling bourbons. The dispute is a sign of the bourbon industry’s growing pains as it tries to keep up with demand.

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