Update on the latest in business:


Asian stocks follow Wall St up as Powell says rates to rise

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street higher after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said U.S. interest rates might be raised earlier than planned.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. Oil prices edged higher.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.9% after Powell said policy “in all likelihood” will return to normal as bond purchases and other economic stimulus winds down. He said ultra-low rates might be raised earlier than planned if necessary to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high.

Investors have been trying to figure out how the world’s biggest economy and financial markets will react.


US airlines say China is forcing them to cancel some flights

UNDATED (AP) — China is blocking more than a dozen U.S. airline flights to the country because some passengers on recent flights tested positive for COVID-19.

The move is the latest development in a dispute between the two countries over international flights and rules designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

China has been ratcheting up travel restrictions after recent outbreaks of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics next month.

American Airlines and United Airlines say they have canceled six upcoming flights each, and Delta Air Lines says it canceled one flight to China last week and another later this week.


Japan minister aims to control COVID while achieving growth

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese minister assigned the task of containing COVID-19 while steering the world’s third largest economy toward growth says Japan must learn to coexist with the coronavirus.

Daishiro Yamagiwa says he’s confident he can carry out that precarious “balancing act.”

Japan had managed to cut new infections to very low levels last fall. But medical experts warn it should expect a surge of COVID infections in the next few weeks. Daily reported cases are totaling several thousand nationwide, roughly tripling from last week.


US shoppers find some groceries scarce due to virus, weather

UNDATED (AP) — Shortages at U.S. grocery stores have grown more acute in recent weeks.

New problems like the fast-spreading omicron variant and severe weather are piling on to the supply chain struggles and labor shortages that have plagued retailers since the coronavirus pandemic began. The shortages are widespread, impacting produce and meat as well as packaged goods like cereal. And they’re being reported nationwide.

U.S. grocers typically have 5% to 10% of their items out of stock at any given time. According to the Consumer Brands Association, the unavailability rate is hovering around 15%. Experts are divided on how long grocery shopping will sometimes feel like a scavenger hunt.


EPA moves to crack down on dangerous coal ash storage ponds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is taking its first major action to address toxic wastewater from coal-burning power plants, ordering utilities to stop dumping waste into unlined storage ponds and speed up plans to close leaking or otherwise dangerous coal ash sites.

The EPA says plants in four states will have to close the coal ash ponds months or years ahead of schedule. Coal ash is the substance that remains when coal is burned to generate electricity.

It can pollute waterways, poison wildlife and cause respiratory illness among those living near massive ponds where the waste is stored.

The action marks the first time the EPA has enforced a 2015 rule aimed at reducing groundwater pollution from coal-fired power plants.


Medicare limits coverage of $28,000-a-year Alzheimer’s drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare says it will limit coverage of a $28,000-a-year Alzheimer’s drug whose benefits have been widely questioned.

Tuesday’s decision from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is a major development in the nation’s tug-of-war over the fair value of new medicines that offer tantalizing possibilities but come with prohibitive prices.

It means that for Medicare to pay, patients taking Biogen’s Aduhelm medication will have to be part of clinical trials to assess the drug’s effectiveness in slowing the progression of dementia. Biogen said Tuesday that it disagrees with the Medicare decision.


Here comes the judge: Steve Harvey an initial hit

NEW YORK (AP) — Judge Steve Harvey? At least for one week, it seems like an inspired idea. The comic’s “legal” show was the most-watched non-football program on television last week for its debut episode.

The Nielsen company says its audience of 5.2 million people was almost 2 million more than the beginning of a new season for ABC’s better-known franchise, “The Bachelor.”

CBS was the most popular network in prime time last week, averaging 5.5 million viewers. NBC had 5.2 million, ABC had 4.8 million, Fox had 3.3 million, Univision had 1.7 million, Ion Television had 1.04 million and Telemundo had 950,000.

ESPN was the top-rated cable network, averaging 3.37 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 2.25 million viewers, MSNBC had 1.24 million, Hallmark had 1.2 million and HGTV had 1.17 million.

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