Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks move higher with help from Big Tech companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology stocks are pushing the broader market solidly higher as Wall Street welcomes another reprieve from the recent volatility in the bond market. The S&P 500 index was 1.5% higher at midday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1% and the technology-heavy Nasdaq was up 2.5%. Big Tech stocks, which have been hurt this year by rising bond yields, were among the biggest gainers. Apple was up 1.9%, Microsoft rose 2.7% and Google’s parent company Alphabet was up more than 2.9%.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

US jobless claims fall to 712,000 as pace of layoffs eases

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 712,000, the lowest total since early November, evidence that fewer employers are cutting jobs amid a decline in confirmed coronavirus cases and signs of an improving economy. The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment aid dropped by 42,000 from 754,000 the week before. Though the job market has been slowly strengthening, many businesses remain under pressure, and 9.6 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that flattened the economy 12 months ago.

JOB OPENINGS

Job openings rise, layoffs fall as pandemic economy mends

WASHINGTON (AP) — Companies posted more open jobs in January while layoffs fell, a sign of slow healing in the economy. The Labor Department said Thursday that there were 6.9 million jobs available on the last day in January, up from 6.7 million in December. That suggests employers were preparing to hire in the following months. Hiring actually began to pick up in February, according to last Friday’s jobs report, which showed that employers added 379,000 jobs, the most since October, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, from 6.3%. While the economy still has 9.5 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic, February’s job gain was much higher than January’s and came after a sharp job loss in December.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ONE YEAR-BIDEN

Biden to sign relief bill Thursday

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to sign into law the $1.9 trillion relief package that he says will help the U.S. defeat the virus and nurse the economy back to health. The White House says Biden will sign it Thursday afternoon, hours before the president plans to give his first prime-time address to the American public on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. The signing was originally planned for Friday but chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted that the bill arrived at the White House late Wednesday, more quickly than anticipated. Klain says the celebration of the signing will still take place on Friday with congressional leaders.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ONE YEAR-ECONOMY

From job cuts to online commerce, virus reshaped US economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — A once-in-a-century pandemic has ground on for a year, throwing millions out of work and upending wide swaths of the American economy. Delivery services thrived while restaurants suffered. Home offices replaced downtown offices. Travel and entertainment spending dried up. The job losses were swift and harsh. But they hardly fell equally across the economy. Black and Hispanic workers fared worse than others. And many women, mostly mothers, felt compelled to quit the workforce to care for children being schooled online from home. After a year of ghostly airports, empty sports stadiums and constant Zoom meetings, growing signs suggest that the economy is strengthening.

AIRLINE STOCKS

Airline stocks cleared for takeoff, but turbulence ahead

UNDATED (AP) — Investors have seemingly cleared airline stocks for takeoff, but the industry still faces a long and bumpy climb. The S&P 500′s airline index has jumped nearly 25% so far in 2021 as vaccine distribution ramps up and begins to clear the way for a full economic recovery. Airlines won’t likely return to their pre-pandemic revenue and passenger levels for years, however. Even after much of the world is vaccinated, leisure travel could be slow to recover. Business travel could take even longer as companies continue to conserve cash and rely on video conferencing instead of travel.

SUPREME COURT-MEDICAID-WORK REQUIREMENTS

Justices call off arguments over Medicaid work requirements

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has called off upcoming arguments over a Trump administration plan to remake Medicaid by requiring recipients to work, agreeing to a request from the Biden administration. The court had been scheduled to take up the issue on March 29. But the Biden administration already has decided preliminarily that work requirements do not fit with Medicaid’s goal of providing health care to lower-income people. It’s the fifth time since the November presidential election that the change in administrations has led the court to dismiss or delay cases it had already agreed to hear.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EUROPE-VACCINES

EU regulator recommends using J&J’s one-shot vaccine

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Medicines Agency has recommended that Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine be cleared, giving the European Union’s 27 nations a fourth vaccine to try to curb the pandemic amid the bloc’s much-criticized vaccination rollout. In a decision issued Thursday, the EU medicines regulator said the vaccine could be used in adults over 18 “after a thorough evaluation” of J&J’s data found it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality. The head of the agency says “with this latest positive opinion, authorities across the European Union will have another option to combat the pandemic and protect the lives and health of their citizens.” The EMA said the J&J vaccine was about 67% effective.

DENMARK-SUSPENDING VACCINATION

Denmark pauses AstraZeneca vaccine jabs to probe blood clots

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Health Authority says it has temporarily suspended use of the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca after reports of blood clots in some people, but the authority says it has no evidence the vaccine was responsible. Other experts pointed out that of the millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine administered elsewhere, including in Britain, there have been no reported cases of the vaccine causing blood clots or related problems. Danish health authorities said their decision was “based on a precautionary principle” and that one person who developed a blood clot after vaccination had died.

BREXIT

Amid pandemic, UK delays imposing post-Brexit border checks

LONDON (AP) — Britain announced Thursday that it is delaying the imposition of checks on some goods from the European Union to give businesses more time to prepare for new post-Brexit rules. The U.K. government says it is postponing full border controls until Jan. 1, six months later than planned, because of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But the move risks worsening relations with the EU, which is already angry at a series of unilateral British decisions over trade. The two sides are also sparring over coronavirus vaccines, with European Council President Charles Michel claiming the U.K. had imposed an “outright ban” on coronavirus vaccine exports. The U.K. strongly denies that.

COUPANG-IPO

Coupang, the Amazon of South Korea, debuts on NYSE

NEW YORK (AP) — The biggest IPO in years is rolling out on the New York Stock Exchange where Coupang, the South Korean equivalent of Amazon in the U.S., or Alibaba in China, begins trading under the ticker “CPNG.” It’s actually the largest initial public offering from an Asian company since Alibaba went public about seven years ago. And it’s the biggest in the U.S. since Uber raised more than $8 billion in 2019. Coupang has raised about $4.6 billion, outsizing last month’s $2 billion capital raise by the dating app Bumble. Coupang priced 130 million shares at $35 each, valuing the company at about $60 billion.

SPORTS BETTING-STORE SPECIALS

BetMGM offering special sport bets at Buffalo Wild Wings

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — BetMGM will offer special sports betting products to customers who are physically inside a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in six states starting Thursday in what the companies say is a first-of-its-kind niche in customized sports betting. The casino company is launching a new feature of its app in New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee and West Virginia. It uses geolocation technology to target people who are physically inside a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant and offers them betting products not available to other customers. David Schwartz, a gambling historian in Nevada, says similar deals could follow with other companies if this arrangement succeeds.

BOOKS-DR.-SEUSS

Oh, what a birthday week for Dr. Seuss books

NEW YORK (AP) — Oh, the books that sold last week by Dr. Seuss. More than 1.2 million copies of stories by the children’s author sold in the first week of March — more than quadruple from the week before — following the news that his estate was pulling six books because of racial and ethnic stereotyping. For days virtually every book in the top 20 on Amazon’s bestseller list was by Dr. Seuss. According to NPD BookScan, which tracks around 85 percent of retail sales, the top sellers weren’t even the books being withdrawn. “The Cat in the Hat” sold more than 100,000 copies.

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