Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks fall, heading for another weekly loss

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling in afternoon trading on Wall Street, keeping the major indexes on course for their second weekly decline in a row. The S&P 500 fell 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8% and the Nasdaq fell 0.1%. Banks were the biggest weight on the market. JPMorgan Chase fell after reporting that its profits fell 14% in the latest quarter from a year earlier. Traders were also disappointed to see that retail sales sank 1.9% in December after Americans cut their spending in the face of product shortages, rising prices and the onset of the omicron variant.

RETAIL SALES

December retail sales slip after a record holiday season

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans overlooked shortages, spiking prices and uncertainty over the omicron variant to break spending records during the critical holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, said that sales surged by a record 14.1% from November and December 2020 to the same months in 2021. Those figures blew away the federation’s own projections for growth of between 8.5% to 10.5%, and more than tripled the average gain over the past five years of 4.4%. But figures released by the Commerce Department Friday show that after spending robustly early in the holiday season, consumers sharply slowed their purchases from November to December as retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.9%

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Industrial output falls 0.1% unexpectedly amid supply issues

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. industrial production fell 0.1% in December, the first decline since September, with weakness in factory output showing that manufacturers are still struggling with snarled supply chains. The 0.1% decline was unexpected. Many economists had been forecasting a small increase, helped by a further rebound in manufacturing. Instead manufacturing output fell by 0.3% while as output at auto plants was down 1.3%. Automakers have been hurt by supply chain problems, especially shortages of the semiconductors that go into cars. Output at utilities was down 1.5% in December, reflecting unusually warm weather for the month. Output in mining, which covers oil and gas production, was the only major ctegory showing an increase, a gain of 3% last month.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-ARIZONA

Treasury: Arizona risks relief funds over anti-mandate rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is threatening to recoup COVID-19 relief funds sent to Arizona over state provisions it says discourage families and school districts from following federal guidance recommending face coverings in schools. At issue are two state programs that are meant to help schools and students but that direct funding away from jurisdictions with mask requirements. The Treasury Department warns in a Friday letter that Arizona has 60 days to remove the anti-masking provisions before the federal government moves to recover the relief money. It also threatens to withhold the next tranche of aid. Arizona has received about half of the $4.2 billion awarded to it under the 2021 coronavirus relief bill.

BIDEN-CHILD-TAX-CREDIT

Goodbye ‘godsend’: Expiration of child tax credits hits home

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — For the first time in half a year, families on Friday are going without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit. The program was intended to be part of President Joe Biden’s legacy but has instead become a flash point over who is worthy of government support. The monthly tax credits started arriving thanks to Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and the president had proposed extending them for another full year as part of a separate measure focused on economic and social programs. But that bill is stalled in the Senate. More than 36 million families received the payments in December.

CLEAN WATER ACT-RULE CHANGE

Tightened federal water protections won’t slow some projects

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Biden administration is moving to tighten oversight of projects that benefitted from Trump-era loosened water protections. However, some projects including a controversial Georgia mine will likely be able to escape new scrutiny. It’s the latest twist in a long-running dispute over the scope of the Clean Water Act. The new guidance aims to diminish the impact of Trump-era environmental rollbacks, which included eliminating federal protections for numerous small streams, wetlands and other waterways.

YOUNGKIN-CABINET-EPA

Ex-EPA workers ask Virginia senators not to confirm Wheeler

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 150 former Environmental Protection Agency employees are writing to the Virginia Senate, asking the Democrat-controlled chamber to oppose the nomination of former EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler to GOP Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s cabinet. Youngkin announced last week that he had selected Wheeler to serve as Virginia’s secretary of natural resources, a similar state-level role. Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist. The announcement sparked an immediate backlash from the state’s conservation community, and many Democratic members of the chamber have since publicly announced their opposition. Friday’s letter was signed by ex-EPA officials who worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations. It was first shared with The Associated Press.

CITRUS CANKER

Owners to get $42 million for citrus trees Florida destroyed

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Sixteen years after their legal battle began, about 18,000 homeowners in central Florida will be paid more than $42 million collectively by Florida’s agriculture agency for destroying their citrus trees during a state effort to eradicate a harmful citrus disease. The homeowners in Orange County will receive $700 per healthy tree destroyed as part of an order issued in state court in Orlando last month. A judgment from a 2014 trial assessed the value of each tree as $344 but fees and interests over the years doubled the per-tree payment. While unharmful to humans, canker can cause the leaves and fruit of citrus trees to drop prematurely.

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