Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

US stocks rise after Biden taps Powell for a new Fed term

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks mostly rose in afternoon trading on Wall Street as investors head into a holiday-shortened week with reassurance about leadership at the Federal Reserve.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% and the Nasdaq fell 0.6%.

The dollar also strengthened against other currencies and the price of gold, a haven for when investors feel anxious, fell.

FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELL

Biden to keep Powell as Fed chair, Brainard gets vice chair

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced he’s nominating Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve chair, endorsing Powell’s stewardship of the economy through a brutal pandemic recession in which the Fed’s ultra-low rate policies helped bolster confidence and revitalize the job market.

Biden also said he would nominate Lael Brainard, the lone Democrat on the Fed’s Board of Governors and the preferred alternative to Powell for many progressives, as vice chair.

The president said he will fill the three remaining slots on the board, including vice chair for supervision, a bank regulatory post, in “early December.” His decision strikes a note of continuity and bipartisanship at a time when surging inflation is burdening households.

HOME SALES

October existing home sales hit fastest pace since January

UNDATED (AP) — Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes ticked higher in October, marking their strongest pace since January, even as resilient demand and competition for relatively few properties on the market kept prices climbing.

The National Association of Realtors says existing homes sales rose 0.8% last month from September to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.34 million units. Sales fell 5.8% from October last year. The median home price jumped to $353,900, a 13.1% increase from October last year.

At the end of October, the inventory of unsold homes stood at just 1.25 million homes for sale, down 12% from a year ago. At the current sales pace, the NAR says, that amounts to a 2.4 months’ supply.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-J&J BOOSTER

EU considers booster doses of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Medicines Agency says it is evaluating whether to authorize booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement, the EU drug regulator said it was considering an application from J&J to recommend booster doses of the J&J vaccine for adults 18 and over, at least two months after they were first immunized. Amid an explosive surge of new coronavirus infections across Europe, the EMA said it expected to make a decision on this within weeks.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to J&J booster doses in October, both for people who initially received the J&J and vaccine and for people who got immunized with other vaccines.

TARGET-THANKSGIVING

Target to keep stores closed on Thanksgiving for good

NEW YORK (AP) — Target will no longer open its stores on Thanksgiving Day, making permanent a shift to the unofficial start of the holiday season that was suspended during the pandemic.

To limit crowds in stores, retailers last year were forced to turn what had become a weekend shopping blitz into an extended event with holiday sales beginning as early as October.

That forced shift turned out to be a good move. U.S. holiday sales in November and December rose 8.2% from the previous year, and the National Retail Federation predicts that this year could shatter that record, growing between 8.5% and 10.5%.

THANKSGIVING-TURKEY INFLATION

Yes, there are turkeys for Thanksgiving – for a price

UNDATED (AP) — First, the good news: There is no shortage of whole turkeys in the U.S. this Thanksgiving. But those turkeys — along with other holiday staples like cranberry sauce and pie filling — could cost more.

The American Farm Bureau estimates a Thanksgiving feast for 10 will cost $53.31 this year, up 14% from a year ago.

Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain says labor, transportation and feed costs all soared this year and remain elevated. Some groceries are still offering deals on turkeys, but experts say those deals will be less common this year as stores also feel the impact of inflation.

ERICSSON-VONAGE

Ericsson to buy cloud service company Vonage in $6.2B deal

LONDON (AP) — Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson says it’s buying U.S. cloud communications company Vonage in a $6.2 billion deal that will help it expand wireless services for business customers.

Ericsson says the acquisition will also give it access to software developers who it can tap to build new applications that advantage of new features built into new fifth generation high speed wireless networks that Ericsson is building.

Ericsson agreed to buy Vonage for $21 a share in the all-cash deal, which is 28% higher than Vonage’s closing share price on Friday. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022.

GENERAL MOTORS-ELECTRIC BOATS

GM exploring electric boats, buys 25% stake in engine maker

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is testing the water in electric boating by buying a 25% stake in a Seattle company that makes battery-powered outboard motors.

The Detroit automaker says it bought the stake in Pure Watercraft for a venture that it says will develop and commercialize battery electric watercraft.

Privately held Pure Watercraft makes an electric outboard propulsion system powered by a lithium-ion battery. It’s designed as a drop-in replacement for any boat with a gas outboard motor from 25 to 50 horsepower. The company also works with boat manufacturers to sell complete boats, according to its website.

In a statement, GM said the two companies will combine Pure Watercraft’s marine experience with GM’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities.

ALDEN-LEE

Hedge fund Alden in hunt for another big newspaper chain

UNDATED (AP) — Hedge fund Alden Global Capital, one of the country’s largest newspaper owners with a reputation for intense cost cuts and layoffs, has offered to buy the local newspaper chain Lee Enterprises for about $141 million.

Alden said in a press release that it sent Lee’s board a letter with the offer. It already owns 6% of Lee’s stock and is proposing to buy the rest for $24 a share. A Lee spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Lee’s papers include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News, along with dozens of smaller papers.

AMERICAN-JETBLUE-LAWSUIT

American, JetBlue ask court to toss US lawsuit against deal

BOSTON (AP) — American Airlines and JetBlue are asking a federal judge to throw out the government’s effort to block a deal between the two airlines that has them working together on service in the Northeast.

The airlines filed a motion in federal district court to dismiss the Justice Department’s lawsuit.

Under the Trump administration, the Transportation Department allowed American and JetBlue to work together in setting schedules and service in New York and Boston. But earlier this year, the Biden administration’s Justice Department sued to block the deal, saying it will hurt consumers by reducing competition in key air-travel markets.

PHILANTHROPY-JEFF BEZOS

Bezos makes gifts to Obama foundation and NYU medical center

UNDATED (AP) — Former President Barack Obama’s foundation announced that it has received a $100 million donation from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, which it says is the largest individual contribution it has received to date.

Separately, New York University Langone Health said it has received a $166 million gift from Bezos and his family.

The Obama foundation said in a statement that the gift from Bezos was also given in honor of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights icon, who died last year. As part of the gift, the foundation said Bezos has asked for the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center, under construction in Chicago’s South Side, to be named after Lewis.

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