Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares mostly up on optimism for stimulus from Biden

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly rising on the optimism over the new leadership in Washington that has set off a rally on Wall Street.

Benchmarks in Japan, South Korea, Australia and Shanghai rose today, but fell moderately in Hong Kong.

Hopes are high that President Joe Biden’s administration will mean more support for the struggling U.S. economy, setting off a recovery that’s crucial for the export-driven Asian region. Stocks rallied to record highs on Wall Street. Biden, who took the oath of office to become the 46th U.S. president, has pitched a $1.9 trillion plan to help families and businesses.

BIDEN-CLIMATE

Biden puts U.S. back into fight to slow global warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is putting the United States back into the worldwide fight to slow global warming as one of his first acts in office. Biden signed an order returning the United States to the Paris climate accord within hours of his oath-taking Wednesday.

Biden in his inaugural address said the need for climate action couldn’t be “any more desperate or any more clear.”

Biden signed other orders launching a series of climate-friendly efforts that could transform how Americans drive and get their power. That includes a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in the Arctic wilderness.

YELLEN-TREASURY

Yellen taps Obama administration vets for key Treasury roles

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says that Didem Nisanci will serve as Janet Yellen’s chief of staff once Yellen is confirmed by the Senate.

Nisanci most recently served as global head of public policy at Bloomberg L.P. She was the chief of staff for the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Obama-Biden administration.

Jason Leibenluft will serve as counselor to the Treasury secretary after having been a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and working during the Obama-Biden administration in a variety of roles, including deputy director of the National Economic Council.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

European Central Bank faces gloomier picture for economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank is confronting more economic gloom.

Virus cases and deaths are rising, and new lockdowns mean the 341 million people in the eurozone face a deepening recession in the coming weeks. With more than a trillion euros in stimulus still in the pipeline, the ECB isn’t likely to add more.

Top officials meet today to decide monetary policy for the 19 countries that use the euro as their currency. But ECB head Christine Lagarde is likely to deliver a message that the bank will do more if it has to. Otherwise the current support is enough to keep borrowing costs low for struggling companies and governments.

PANASONIC-VACCINE STORAGE BOXES

Panasonic works on special vaccine storage boxes

UNDATED (AP) — Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. says it is using its refrigerator technology to develop special boxes for storing the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which must be kept at ultracold temperatures. The company says that samples will be ready in March, with a product to follow a month or two later.

The box will use dry ice to maintain the temperature at the minus-70 degrees Celsius required for the Pfizer’s vaccine. It does not need to be plugged in.

Japan’s government has deals with various drug companies, including one with Pfizer for enough vaccine to inoculate 72 million people this year. That is more than half the nation’s population. Japan is pushing a vaccine rollout after a surge in coronavirus cases.

NRA BANKRUPTCY

NRA fights for its future in Texas, New York courts

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Rifle Association is in a double-barreled legal battle for its future, moving forward with its bankruptcy case while fighting accusations it only sought Chapter 11 protection to avoid a potentially crippling lawsuit.

Lawyers for the influential advocacy group told a federal judge Wednesday that the organization’s decision to declare bankruptcy, with plans to reincorporate in gun-friendly Texas, was not an attempt to dodge a lawsuit brought by the attorney general in New York, its current corporate home.

The NRA and New York attorney general’s office were set to tangle again today before a New York judge over the lawsuit, the latest in a series of state regulatory challenges that spurred the organization’s pivot to bankruptcy.

NIELSENS

Comfort TV viewing gives ratings boost to football, dramas

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An unprecedented impeachment hearing failed to keep TV viewers from settling back into familiar habits last week.

According to Nielsen figures out Wednesday, NFL and college football were ratings winners, along with the “Chicago” and “NCIS” drama franchises.

The second impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump drew viewers to news shows, but not in the numbers that tuned in the prior week when the U.S. Capitol was attacked. Last week’s top-rated program was the NFL divisional playoff game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints. The game aired on Fox, which the most-watched network for the week of Jan. 11-17.

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