Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks waver

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wavering between small gains and losses on Wall Street, losing momentum after a two-day rally. The S&P 500 was off less than 0.1% at midday, just barely holding on to a gain for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq fell 0.2%. Nike slumped 6.3% after reporting revenue for its latest quarter that fell short of what analysts were looking for. European markets were lower and Asian markets closed mostly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.45%, up sharply from the level of 1.31% it traded at on Monday. Energy prices rose.

NEW HOME SALES

New home sales rise for second straight month in August

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Sales of new homes in the U.S. rose modestly in August as rising prices continue to sideline potential buyers. The Commerce Department says new home sales were up 1.5% last month, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 740,000. That’s more than economists had expected and follows an increase in July, which was revised upward to a seasonally adjusted rate of 729,000 houses. July’s jump came after three consecutive declines in April, May and June as builders grappled with surging lumber prices and a shortage of workers. Prices for new homes also ticked up in August. The median price for a new home rose $400 to $390,900, more than 20% higher than August of 2020.

BIDEN-CONGRESS-BUDGET

Biden: Budget talks hit ‘stalemate,’ $3.5T may take a while

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden says talks over his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan have hit a “stalemate” in Congress. Biden delivered off-cuff remarks Friday at the White House as Democrats in the House and Senate are laboring to finish drafts and overcome party differences, The president’s remarks were a reality check as congressional leaders tried publicly to show progress, Biden cast the road ahead as long, and said talks are at the “hard part.” His big “Build Back Better” plan would make sweeping investments in federal programs for Americans of all ages, paid for by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BOOSTER SHOTS

Biden urges COVID-19 booster shots for those now eligible

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is urging Americans who now are eligible for a Pfizer COVID-19 booster to go get one, and says he’ll get his own soon. Biden’s plea comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed boosters for millions who got their last shot at least six months ago. On the list are people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 and up who have chronic health problems. People whose jobs put them at risk of infection also qualify, after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky overruled her own advisers who balked at that broader use.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOL MASKS

CDC: Studies show masks lessen school outbreaks

UNDATED (AP) — Data from the CDC on the new K-12 school year bolster the agency’s recommendation for masks in schools and in-person classes. One study in two Arizona counties found coronavirus outbreaks were almost four times more common at public schools without mask mandates on the first day than at those that re-opened with a masking requirement. Another study found case rates in children and teens increased more in U.S. counties where public schools had no mask mandates than in those where schools had that requirement. These studies lacked data on other measures that could have influenced the results. A third study counted 1,801 coronavirus-related school closures through mid-September, most of them in the South. Still, 96% of U.S. public schools have remained open with in-person classes.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-RENTAL ASSISTANCE

More rental aid is reaching tenants to stave off eviction

UNDATED (AP) — The Treasury Department says there’s been good progress in the distribution of rental assistance to help avert evictions. More than 16.5% of the tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance reached tenants in August, compared with 11% a month earlier. The latest data from the department that oversees the program shows that the pace picked up in August and a number of states are seeing rising numbers after a slow start. There’s growing pressure to speed up the distribution of the money after the Supreme Court in August allowed evictions to resume. Lawmakers have approved $46.5 billion in spending on rental assistance.

AP POLL-HUNGER IN AMERICA

Many hurdles for families with food challenges, poll shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Americans struggling to feed their families over the past pandemic year say they’ve had difficulty figuring out how to get help and had trouble finding healthy foods they can afford. A poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 23% of Americans say they haven’t been able to get enough to eat or the kinds of foods they need. Most of those facing food challenges enrolled in a government or nonprofit food assistance program in the last year, but 58% still had difficulty accessing at least one service.

GERMANY-PARTS-SHORTAGE

Shortages cause ‘bottleneck recession’ for German industry

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Shortages of computer chips and other raw materials are continuing to hit Germany’s manufacturers, as bottlenecks leave companies in Europe’s biggest economy struggling to fill orders. Trouble getting the key components helped send the closely watched Ifo index lower for September. That’s the third drop in a row. The index surveys companies about their outlook and it’s regarded as a sign of where the economy is headed. But major manufacturers such as auto firms Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen have all experienced trouble getting the computer chips they need. Other materials are in short supply as well. The darkening mood among business comes just days ahead of Germany’s national election on Sunday.

BRITAIN-TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE

Drive for Britain! UK scrambles for truckers amid supply woe

LONDON (AP) — Britain doesn’t have enough truck drivers. The shortage is contributing to scarcity of everything from McDonald’s milkshakes to supermarket produce. Now energy firms are rationing supplies of gasoline and closing some petrol pumps. The government is scrambling to lure more people into what has long been an underpaid and underappreciated job. The driver drought means wages are rising, and people laid off from other sectors are starting to retrain as truckers. But the head of a food industry group warns that the problems, caused by factors including the coronavirus pandemic, won’t be easily solved. He says occasionally empty shelves are going to be “the new normal.”

CANADA-CHINA-US-HUAWEI

Justice Dept: Huawei exec poised to resolve criminal charges

NEW YORK (AP) — The chief financial officer of Chinese communications giant Huawei (WAH’-way) Technologies is preparing to resolve the criminal charges against her. That’s according to a letter the Justice Department sent to a federal judge on Friday. The resolution with Meng Wanzhou (muhng wahn-JOH’) would conclude a years-long legal and geopolitical tussle that involved not only the U.S. and China but also Canada, where Meng has remained since her arrest there in December 2018. The terms of any resolution are expected to be revealed later Friday in federal court in Brooklyn.

CHINA-CRYPTOCURRENCY CRACKDOWN

China says all crypto transactions illegal; Bitcoin tumbles

BEIJING (AP) — China’s central bank has declared all transactions involving Bitcoin and other virtual currencies illegal, stepping up a campaign to block use of unofficial digital money. The central bank complained Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies disrupt the financial system and are used in money-laundering and other crime. Prices for Bitcoin and other digital currencies dropped after the announcement. Chinese banks were banned from handling cryptocurrencies in 2013, but the government issued a reminder this year. The People’s Bank of China is developing an electronic version of the country’s yuan for cashless transactions that can be tracked and controlled by Beijing.

CHINESE FISHING FACTORIES

Great Wall of Lights: China’s sea power on Darwin’s doorstep

ABOARD THE OCEAN WARRIOR in the eastern Pacific Ocean (AP) — The Associated Press with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision accompanied the conservation group Sea Shepherd this summer on an 18-day voyage to observe up close for the first time the Chinese distant water fishing fleet on the high seas off South America. China’s deployment to this remote expanse of the Pacific Ocean is no accident. Decades of overfishing have pushed its overseas fleet, the world’s largest, officially capped at 3,000 vessels but possibly consisting of thousands more, ever farther from home. U.S. and regional governments fear that the Chinese fleet’s push into the Americas could exhaust fish stocks. There’s also concern that in the absence of effective controls, illegal fishing will soar.

FRANCE-FASHION-FUR

Saint Laurent becomes latest fashion house to go fur-free

PARIS (AP) — French luxury house Saint Laurent will go completely fur free in its collections from next year, its parent company Kering says. In a statement Friday, Kering added that another of its houses, Italian menswear brand Brioni, will also stop using fur — making the luxury giant that includes Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta completely fur free. Kering’s CEO said that “going entirely fur free is just the right thing to do. We do it out of conviction, for the sake of ethics and modernity.” Animal rights groups have long pushed for luxury houses to stop using animal fur. Many in Paris, such as Stella McCartney and Chanel had already renounced it in recent years.

PHILANTHROPY-RELOCATION INCENTIVES

Foundations offer cities help convincing workers to relocate

UNDATED (AP) — A new effort in Northwest Arkansas offering $10,000 incentives to new residents is part of an increasing number of philanthropy-financed projects trying to spark economic development, promote civic and cultural life, attract skilled workers, and offset declining or sparse populations. Remote workers are especially attractive because they tend to have high disposable incomes. They also are a lot less costly for cities and towns to attract, given the demands that companies make when they are pondering a relocation. Companies often want guarantees of skilled workers, tax abatements, or other government subsidies.

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