Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks wobble as bond yields ease

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wobbling between small gains and losses on Wall Street as gains by technology stocks offset a slide in banks and energy companies. The S&P 500 index was up 0.3% in afternoon trading and nearly split between gainers and losers. Investors continue to watch the bond market, where Treasury yields were holding steady, as well as Washington, where Congress is expected to vote on President Joe Biden’s stimulus package. Bond yields eased off their multi-week climb. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell to 1.47%.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONGRESS

Dems near relief bill OK by House, ponder wage plan rescue

WASHINGTON (AP) — A $1.9 trillion package aimed at helping the country rebuild from the pandemic seems headed toward House passage. Now, Democrats are also searching for a way to revive their drive to boost the minimum wage. The relief bill embodies President Joe Biden’s drive to flush cash to individuals, businesses, states and cities suffering from the pandemic. But Democratic progressives are adamant that the party keep trying to pass legislation that would boost the federal minimum wage to $15 hourly. The Senate parliamentarian says that provision must come out of the relief bill, so Democrats are discussing other steps.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BUSINESS

Biden, businesses to reinforce virus advice

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration and major U.S. business organizations are launching a joint educational campaign to reinforce basic COVID-19 do’s and don’ts with their customers and employees. White House coronavirus senior adviser Andy Slavitt says it’s part of an effort to get the country working together to contain the virus and encourage Americans to get vaccinated. It reinforces masking and social distancing on business premises; removing roadblocks to get employees vaccinated; and using business platforms like websites to echo public health advice about getting vaccinated and wearing masks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and leading associations of minority-owned businesses are participating in the effort.

CONSUMER SPENDING

US consumers rebound to boost spending 2.4% as income jumps

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America’s consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January, the sharpest increase in seven months and a sign that the economy may be poised to sustain a recovery from the pandemic recession. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10% last month, the biggest gain in nine months, boosted by cash payments that most Americans received from the government. The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend.

UNITED AIRLINES-FRAUD SETTLEMENT

United will pay $49 million to settle air mail fraud case

UNDATED (AP) — United Airlines will pay more than $49 million to settle criminal and civil accusations of defrauding the post office in the handling of international mail. The Justice Department said Friday that former employees of United’s cargo division falsified parcel delivery information for several years. Prosecutors say that as a result, United collected millions of dollars in payments that it should not have received. United is agreeing to pay about $17 million in criminal penalties and forfeited revenue to end the criminal investigation. And separately United will pay more than $32 million in related civil penalties.

FAA-PASSENGER-FINE

FAA seeks $27,500 from passenger it says hit air attendant

WASHINGTON (AP) — A passenger who allegedly hit a flight attendant after an argument over wearing a face mask could soon be $27,500 poorer. The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it is proposing the financial penalty against a person who became combative after they and a companion were asked to leave a Delta Air Lines flight in October. The FAA says the person’s companion refused to wear a face mask or seatbelt, forcing the crew to return the plane to the gate. Delta, like most airlines, requires passengers to wear masks except when eating or drinking. The FAA is not identifying the passenger.

RUSSIA-EMERGENCY LANDING

Boeing 777 makes emergency landing in Moscow: Reports

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian media report that a Boeing 777 made an emergency landing in Moscow in the early hours on Friday after a pilot reported a problem with the engine. The Interfax news agency cited an anonymous source saying that the pilot of the Hong Kong-Madrid flight reported a failure of one of the left engine control channels and requested an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The plane landed safely and no one was injured, the report said. Earlier this month, a Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines had to make an emergency landing in Denver after one of its engines blew apart, spewing large chunks of wreckage that landed in neighborhoods and sports fields.

VIRGIN GALACTIC-POSTPONEMENT

Virgin Galactic delays spaceflight test to May

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has postponed its next mission to space from New Mexico until at least May after a test flight from December was aborted due to computer malfunction. The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that an investigation by the company found that electromagnetic interference caused the spaceship’s onboard computer to reboot during the December flight. That triggered a safety mechanism that shut down the engine and forced the VSS Unity’s two pilots to abort the mission and glide back to Earth. CEO Michael Colglazier said the company will test new components to prevent the error before launching its next flight.

COOPER TIRE-RECALL

Cooper recalls 430K light truck tires due to sidewall bulges

DETROIT (AP) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is recalling more than 430,000 light truck tires in the U.S. due to sidewall bulges that could cause tire failure. The recall covers certain Discoverer, Evolution, Courser, Deegan, Adventurer, Hercules, Back Country, Multi-Mile, Wild Country, and Big O tires in several sizes. The company says in documents posted by U.S. safety regulators that the bulges can cause a sidewall separation. That can make the tires lose air rapidly, increasing the risk of a crash. Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper says there have been no property damage, death or injury claims due to the problem. Owners will be notified and dealers will replace the tires. The recall is expected to start March 25.

VOLKSWAGEN EARNINGS

Volkswagen weathers pandemic with $10.7 billion profit

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen made 8.8 billion euros, or $10.7 billion, last year despite the pandemic. The results were better than expected but the German automaker says earnings and sales were still down from the year before in 2019. Volkswagen says the strong rebound from the pandemic in its biggest market China had helped it stay profitable despite production shutdowns in the early part of the outbreak in Europe. The company says that leaves it with plenty of cash. Shareholders will get the same dividend they did the year before of 4.80 euros per ordinary share.

CANADA-PENSION FUND

Canada Pension Plan CEO resigns after travelling for vaccine

TORONTO (AP) — The chief executive of the fund that manages Canada Pension Plan investments has resigned after it was revealed that he had traveled to the United Arab Emirates, where he was vaccinated against COVID-19. CPP Investments says Mark Machin tendered his resignation to the board last night. Machin joined CPP Investments in 2012 and was appointed president and chief executive in June 2016. CPP manages more than 470 billion Canadian dollars in investments on behalf of Canadians. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Machin flew to the United Arab Emirates this month and received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech (FY’-zur by-AHN’-tehk) vaccine and is awaiting the second dose.

WNBA-DREAM SALE

WNBA approves sale of Dream following pressure on Loeffler

ATLANTA (AP) — Real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener has been approved as the head of a new three-member ownership group of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream following pressure on former Sen. Kelly Loeffler to sell her share of the team. Co-owner Mary Brock also sold her share of the team, which will remain in Atlanta. The three-member investor group also includes former Dream guard Renee Montgomery and Suzanne Abair, president of Gottesdiener’s firm. Players around the league have called for Loeffler to sell her 49% stake in the Dream after she wrote a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert over the summer objecting to the league’s initiatives to advocate for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

NETFLIX-DIVERSITY REPORT

Laying out data, Netflix touts its record on inclusivity

NEW YORK (AP) — Netflix on Friday released a study it commissioned from top academic researchers that shows the streaming giant is outpacing much of the film industry in the inclusivity of its original films and television series. For years, academic studies have sought to capture inequalities in Hollywood and to hold studios accountable for making film and television that doesn’t reflect American demographics. Netflix is doing better, the study found. Netflix achieved roughly gender parity among lead characters in both original films and TV series in 2018 and 2019. In most all metrics, diversity in front and behind the camera improved from 2018 to 2019.

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