Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL NEWS

Asia stock markets mixed after Wall St high, virus surge

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street hit a high and new daily U.S. coronavirus cases surged to a record.

Tokyo and Seoul declined while Shanghai and Hong Kong advanced. Wall Street gained for its 70th record high of 2021.

Optimism was tempered by data showing new U.S. virus cases have risen to an average of 265,000 per day, driven largely by the more contagious omicron variant. Investors were encouraged this year by stronger corporate profits and advances in vaccine development and virus treatment. That has been tempered by Federal Reserve’s decision to try to cool U.S. inflation by rolling back stimulus that has boosted stock prices.

PUBLIX-PARENTAL LEAVE

Publix grocery chain starts offering paid parental leave

LAKELAND (AP) — Officials at the Publix grocery store chain says that they will start offering paid parental leave to employees who are new parents. The Florida-based company said Wednesday that eligible full-time and part-time workers will be able to take off the time during the first year of the birth or adoption of a child, starting with the new year.

The privately-held, employee-owned company has 225,000 workers at almost 1,300 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Publix didn’t offer details on how much paid time off new parents would get. The new benefits come as retailers across the U.S. are facing a worker shortage and trying to retain employees.

CALIFORNIA-MEDICAID-OVERHAUL

Federal government approves California’s Medicaid overhaul

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The U.S. government has approved California’s overhaul of the nation’s largest insurance program for low-income and disabled residents. The decision among other things allows Medicaid money to be spent on housing-related services as the most populous state struggles with homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.

Among other things, starting Saturday, California will expand what had been a limited “whole person care pilot program” to eligible Medi-Cal members statewide.

Medi-Cal covers one of every three Californians. It covers more than half of school-age children, half of births in California, and more than two of every three patient days in long-term care facilities.

THERANOS TRIAL

Holmes jury to take break after six days of deliberation

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The jury weighing fraud charges against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes left court Wednesday without reaching a verdict after six days of deliberations. It won’t resume discussions until after the upcoming New Year’s holiday weekend.

The eight men and four women on the jury had been expected to continue deliberations this morning, but a court filing after they left disclosed they will be taking a break until Monday.

Holmes is charged with 11 felony counts accusing her of misleading investors and patients about the effectiveness of Theranos’ blood-testing technology.

BUSINESS MANAGER KILLED

Business manager to Kardashians killed, boyfriend charged

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say a Los Angeles business manager whose clients had included Nicki Minaj and the Kardashians has been killed, and her boyfriend has been charged with murder and torture.

Police say they found 55-year-old Angela Kukawski dead in her car on Dec. 23. Authorities say her 49-year-old boyfriend, Jason Barker, was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder. Prosecutors allege he also tortured her with a knife.

Investigators believe Barker killed Kukawski inside their home, put her inside her car, drove it out of Los Angeles and left it with her inside. Barker has not entered a plea or responded to the charges.

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