Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks ease back from record highs

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street, a day after the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average set their latest record highs. Several big technology and communications companies were posting solid gains, led by Microsoft, which reported a 24% surge in profits last quarter as its cloud computing business bounded ahead. The S&P 500 was up 0.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%. The Nasdaq rose 0.8%. Encouraging earnings helped lift several companies, including McDonald’s. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53% and weighed down bank stocks. U.S. crude oil prices fell.

HOLIDAY FORECAST

Retail trade group: holiday sales could break new records

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s largest retail trade group expects that holiday sales gain could shatter last year’s record-breaking season even as a snarled global supply chain slows the flow of goods and results in higher prices for a broad range of items. The National Retail Federation on Wednesday predicted that sales for the November and December period will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% to $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Holiday sales increased 8.2% in 2020 compared with the previous year when shoppers, locked down during the early part of the pandemic, splurged on pajamas and home goods, mostly online. The group expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 11% and 15% to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion driven by online purchases. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

GM-EARNINGS

GM 3Q profit falls 40% to $2.4B as chip shortage dings sales

DETROIT (AP) — High prices for trucks and SUVs helped General Motors post a $2.4 billion third-quarter profit despite factory closures due to a shortage of computer chips and other parts. But the profit was 40% lower than the $4 billion GM made during the same period last year as sales slumped last quarter and the company lost market share in the U.S., its most profitable country. On a conference call with reporters, CEO Mary Barra said the global shortage of semiconductors, plus COVID outbreaks at supplier factories, hit the company during the third quarter. Excluding one-time items, GM made $1.52 per share, beating Wall Street estimates. But revenue for the quarter fell 25% to $26.78 billion, far short of analysts’ estimates.

BOEING-EARNINGS

Boeing posts $109 million Q3 loss amid jet production issues

UNDATED (AP) — Boeing is reporting a loss of $109 million for the third quarter as it struggles to resume deliveries of the 787, a large plane that is popular on international airline routes. The loss that Boeing reported Wednesday is narrower than a year ago, however. Boeing’s mid-size 737 Max jet continues to recover from two deadly crashes, but now the company is dealing with production flaws on the 787. Boeing is building only two 787s a month, and the company says that low rate will create $1 billion in “abnormal costs,” including a $183 million charge in the third quarter.

MCDONALD’S-EARNINGS

McDonald’s sales surged 14% as virus restrictions eased

UNDATED (AP) — McDonald’s is reporting stronger-than-expected sales in the third quarter, boosted by larger orders and higher prices on the menu. Revenue jumped 14% to $6.2 billion in the July-September period. That beat Wall Street’s forecast of $6 billion. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 12.7% as coronavirus restrictions eased in most markets. Wall Street had expected a 10% increase. McDonald’s net income rose 22% to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Per-share earnings of $2.86 also beat analysts’ forecast of $2.46.

COCA-COLA-EARNINGS

Concert halls, dining rooms open doors; Coke sales rebound

UNDATED (AP) — Coca-Cola Co. is getting its fizz back. The Atlanta beverage company said its revenue jumped 16% to $10 billion in the third quarter as stadiums, movie theaters and other venues reopened around the world. That was ahead of Wall Street’s forecast. Historically, venues like restaurants and theaters account for half of Coke’s sales. They still aren’t back to pre-pandemic levels, but in the meantime, Coke says sales for home consumption also remain strong. Coke said its net income jumped 42% to $2.5 billion. The company raised its revenue and earnings guidance for the full year.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MEATPACKING

Report: At least 59,000 meat workers caught COVID, 269 died

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A U.S. House report says at least 59,000 meatpacking workers became ill with COVID-19 and 269 workers died when the virus tore through the industry last year. The report released Wednesday shows the coronavirus hit the industry much harder than previously thought. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union earlier this week estimated 22,400 workers were sickened by the virus. With workers standing shoulder-to-shoulder along production lines, the meatpacking industry was one of the early epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic. The House report says companies could have done more to protect their employees.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHILD CARE

Exacerbated by pandemic, child care crisis hampers economy

SEATTLE (AP) — The pandemic has made clear what many experts had long warned: The absence of reliable and affordable child care limits the jobs people can accept, makes it harder to climb the corporate ladder and ultimately restricts the ability of the broader economy to grow. Now, each caretaker resignation, coronavirus exposure and day care center closure reveals an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economy’s workforce. It remains to be seen what survives in the brutal negotiations in Congress for President Joe Biden’s broad family services agenda, but the pandemic is proving to be a make-or-break catalyst for the future of the child care industry.

CONGRESS-BUDGET

Pelosi upbeat on Biden deal but Manchin pans billionaire tax

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is telling colleagues that Democrats are in “pretty good shape” on President Joe Biden’s sweeping domestic policy plan and a related $1 trillion infrastructure bill. However, pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is panning his party’s new billionaires’ tax proposal to help pay for it. All this on Wednesday as Biden and his party rush to strike agreement on about $1.75 trillion in social services and climate change programs. Biden has wanted a deal before he departs for overseas summits.

CONGRESSMAN-FACEBOOK DEACTIVATION

Maryland congressman deactivates Facebook account

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland congressman announced Wednesday that he has deactivated his official congressional and campaign Facebook and Instagram accounts until their parent company and Congress make substantial reforms to protect children, health and democratic values. Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said his decision follows disturbing whistleblower reports about the company’s own research revealing harm to democracy, the mental health of teens and the amplification of hate speech. In a news release, Ruppersberger cited a report in The Washington Post that Facebook’s algorithm at one time treated “angry” reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” disproportionately promoting content that was likely to include “misinformation, toxicity and low-quality news.”

FACEBOOK PAPERS-TRUMP VIOLENCE

America ‘on fire’: Facebook watched as Trump ignited hate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Internal Facebook documents reveal a country lit “on fire” in the days after controversial social media posts from then-President Donald Trump last year. Facebook’s own analysis shows that hate speech and violence reports skyrocketed on the site immediately after Trump sent a social media message threatening to shoot looters in Minneapolis amid protests after the killing of George Floyd. Facebook took no action on Trump’s post. The platform’s automated controls were almost 90% certain that Trump’s post violated company policies against inciting violence, contradicting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s claims last year that the post didn’t break company rules. Facebook said that internal controls aren’t always correct and human reviews, like the one on Trump’s post, are more accurate.

OXYGEN TANK-WORKER LAWSUIT

She asked to bring oxygen to work — they fired her instead

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A woman who was fired after asking to bring an oxygen tank to work to help her breathe will get $25,000 in a federal settlement. Delaware-based TriMark Foodcraft also agreed to train its staff on what qualifies as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jean S. Perry worked as an accounting clerk for the kitchen equipment maker in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was fired after trying to return to work following a hospital stay for breathing problems related to a disability. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s settlement also requires TriMark to clearly inform employees about their rights.

TWIN METALS MINE

Twin Metals to appeal federal decision on proposed mine

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Twin Metals says it will appeal a federal decision that dealt a serious blow to its proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. Last week, the Biden administration ordered a mineral withdrawal study that could lead to a 20-year ban on mining upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a popular recreational area in the Superior National Forest. The order also prohibits issuing new prospecting permits or leases for mining-related activities in that area. Twin Metals CEO Kelly Osborne said Wednesday that the company plans to move forward with the project under existing law.

HARD ROCK-CASINOS

Hard Rock considering two NYC-area casinos 8 miles apart

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Hard Rock wants to build a casino in or near New York City, even as it moves forward with a plan to build another one about 8 miles away in northern New Jersey. New York state has three remaining casino licenses to be awarded in the downstate region that includes New York City. Hard Rock chairperson Jim Allen said Tuesday that his Florida-based will express interest in December with New York state. But he says the company is not abandoning a plan to build a casino resort at the Meadowlands Racetrack just outside New York City. He says he believes both can succeed.

RETURN OF THE CIRCUS

‘Greatest Show On Earth’ circus may return without animals

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Four years after the “Greatest Show On Earth” shut down, officials are planning to bring back the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. But animals will no longer be featured in their shows. A spokesperson for Florida-based Feld Entertainment says an announcement is expected sometime next year. The three-ring circus shut down in May 2017 after a 146-year run. Costly court battles with animal rights activists led circus officials to end elephant acts in 2016. Without the elephants, ticket sales declined. Officials also blamed increased railroad costs, and the rise of online games and videos, which made the “Greatest Show On Earth” not seem that great anymore.

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