Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks fall ahead of Fed policy statement

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street as traders wait to hear from the Federal Reserve after its last policy meeting of the year. The Fed is widely expected to announce a faster pullback of its stimulus measures as inflationary pressures build. The S&P 500 fell 0.3%. The benchmark index is coming off two days of losses, pulling it a bit further below the record high it set last Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq fell 0.9%. Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending fell broadly. Bond yields were steady.

RETAIL SALES

Modest 0.3% November retail sales bump, optimism still high

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans slowed their spending from October to November but still continued to shop ahead of the critical holiday season, brushing off rising prices and shortages. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that retail sales rose a modest 0.3% in November compared with the previous month when sales jumped 1.8%. That was a bit weaker than most economists had expected, yet early holiday shopping may have pushed holiday shopping traditionally done in November up a month to October with news of shortages and supply chain issues consistently in headlines. And there were also hints of a return to pre-pandemic behavior with Americans spending more on services, like going out for dinner, which has been under significant pressure due to the fear of infection.

CONGRESS-CHILD TAX CREDIT

COVID-expanded child tax credit benefit nears lapse

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s one of the most far-reaching of all the federal aid programs launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expanded child tax credit puts up to $300 per child directly into the bank accounts of families on the 15th of every month. But the last checks will go out Wednesday, with the program expiring unless Congress revives it for 2022. The Jan. 15 checks are in flux as lawmakers try to push President Joe Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social and environmental package into law. Studies show families are spending the money on food, school supplies and child care.

CONGRESS-BUDGET

AP source: Biden-Manchin talks on $2T Dem bill going poorly

WASHINGTON (AP) — Negotiations between President Joe Biden and holdout Sen. Joe Manchin over Democrats’ $2 trillion social and environment bill are said to be going poorly. A person familiar with the talks says the West Virginia Democrat wants to drop the legislation’s extension of an expanded child tax credit. Many Democrats consider that provision the keystone of the entire bill. Manchin’s stance in the talks was described by a person familiar with the conversations who would describe them only on condition of anonymity. It was the latest of several signs that Democrats’ hopes of pushing the overall bill through the Senate by Christmas have become increasingly bleak.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-EVICTIONS-RISING

Evictions on the rise months after federal moratorium ends

BOSTON (AP) — Housing advocates say evictions are increasing around the country, several months after a federal moratorium was allowed to end. The rise in cases, although below pre-pandemic levels in most states and cities, shows the limits on the tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance and the impact of lax protections in some places. Data collected by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University show that evictions have been rising in most of the 31 cities and six states where it collects data since the federal moratorium ended in August.

HEALTH INSURANCE SIGNUPS

Deadline time for HealthCare.gov coverage that starts Jan. 1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers seeking government-subsidized health insurance for next year have through Wednesday to sign up if they want their new plan to start Jan. 1. It’s the first of two deadlines for HealthCare.gov coverage, with increased financial assistance available through President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief legislation. The last chance will come Jan. 15, for coverage that takes effect Feb. 1. People who are already enrolled don’t have to do anything. If they’re satisfied with their current plan, they will be automatically renewed for 2022. HealthCare.gov and its state-run counterparts are insurance marketplaces that offer taxpayer-subsidized private coverage.

SUBARU-RECALL

Subaru recall: chain can slip and break, causing power loss

DETROIT (AP) — Subaru is recalling about 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. because a chain in the transmission can break, causing a loss of power. The recall covers certain 2020 Legacy and Outback vehicles, as well as some 2019 and 2020 Ascent SUVs. Subaru says in documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators that a programming error in the transmission control computer can let the clutch engage before the drive chain is clamped down. If that happens, the chain slip and break. Subaru says it has has no reports of crashes or injuries. Dealers will reprogram the transmission computer and inspect the chain guide. If they find damage, the transmission will be replaced. Owners will be notified starting Feb. 7. The fix is expected to be ready in April.

AUDI- RECALL

Audi recall: water can enter computer, reducing engine power

DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen’s Audi luxury brand is recalling 289,000 SUVs in the U.S. because water can get into a control computer under the back seats. The recall covers certain 2021 and 2022 Q5 and SQ5 Sportback models and some 2018 through 2022 Q5 and SQ5 models. The company says in documents posted by U.S. safety regulators that water can get to the computer through liquid spilled onto the back seat, or from a leaky body seam. That can cause the computer to shut down and reduce engine power, increasing the risk of a crash. VW says it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries. Dealers will install a cover to protect the computers and seal an underbody seam at no cost to owners, who will be notifed starting Feb. 24.

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