Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks are mixed as regulators ‘pause’ J&J vaccine rollout

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were choppy and mixed in midday trading as a drop in bond yields hurt bank stocks but helped big technology stocks.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.1% Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.4% and the Nasdaq was up 0.5%. The divergence between the two was largely due to the fact the Dow has more bank stocks while the Nasdaq is heavily weighted with technology companies.

Dow component Johnson & Johnson fell 2.6% after U.S. regulators recommended a pause in using its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of possibly dangerous blood clots.

VACCINE-JOHNSON & JOHNSON

US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they were investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

A CDC committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the cases and the FDA has also launched an investigation.

VACCINE-JOHNSON & JOHNSON-FAUCI

Fauci says those who received J&J shots shouldn’t worry

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans who’ve recently received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be anxious about the “pause” in shots because of reports of blood clots.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert says, “Its less than one in a million.” Fauci adds people should “pay attention” to symptoms associated with the blood clots, particularly between one and three weeks after the shot. Fauci says the pause by regulators is a “testimony to how seriously we take safety.”

VACCINE-EUROPE

J&J delays vaccine rollout in Europe amid clot fears in US

BERLIN (AP) — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a U.S. probe into rare blood clots.

The delay is a further blow to vaccination drives in the European Union, which have been plagued by supply shortages, logistical problems and concerns over unusual blood clots in a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were due to arrive in European countries this week.

CONSUMER PRICES

Consumer prices jump 0.6% in March, biggest gain since 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices increased a sharp 0.6% in March, the biggest increase since 2012, while inflation over the past year rose a sizable 2.6%. The big gains were expected to be a temporary blip and not a sign that long dormant inflation pressures were emerging.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that the March increase in its consumer price index followed a 0.4% increase in February and was the biggest one-month gain since a 0.6% rise in August 2012.

While the 2.6% advance was significantly higher than the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for inflation, the jump reflected in large part the fact that a year ago prices were actually falling as the pandemic shut down the country.

POLL-PERSONAL FINANCES

Poll: 15% of Americans worse off a year into pandemic

UNDATED (AP) — While most Americans have weathered the pandemic financially, about 38 million say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the U.S.

Overall, 55% of Americans say their financial circumstances are about the same now as a year ago, and 30% say their finances have improved. That’s according to a new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But 15% say they are worse off.

The problem is more pronounced at lower-income levels. Twenty-nine percent of those living below the federal poverty level say their personal finances worsened in the past year.

BANK EARNINGS-PREVIEW

Banks to see big profits as COVID ‘bad’ loans become ‘good’

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s largest banks are expected to report big profits for the first quarter amid renewed confidence that pandemic-battered consumers and businesses can repay their debts and start borrowing again. The brighter outlook allows banks to move billions of dollars worth of “bad” loans back to the “good” pile, in what are known as loan loss releases.

The pandemic forced banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to put aside billions of dollars to cover potentially bad loans. These funds, once released, are added to a bank’s bottom line when they report their quarterly profits.

GRAB-USSPAC-MERGER

Grab to list in US via $40 billion merger with Altimeter Growth

HONG KONG (AP) — Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing company, Grab Holdings, says it plans to merge with U.S.-based Altimeter Growth Capital in a deal that would value it at nearly $40 billion and allow it to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

This would be the largest merger ever involving a SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, more than double current record-holder United Wholesale Mortgage’s $16 billion merger in January. The merger will make Grab the most valuable Southeast Asian company to list shares in the U.S.

After the deal closes, the combined company expects to trade under the ticker “GRAB.”

BOEING-ORDERS

Boeing sees uptick in airplane orders as travel picks up

UNDATED (AP) — Boeing is reporting a pickup in orders for commercial airplanes. The company says it booked 196 orders while taking 156 cancellations for its 737 family of jets last month. That’s a net gain of 40 orders.

Southwest Airlines provided most of the upside for Boeing, with a previously announced order for 100 Max jets. The biggest setback for Boeing came from Turkish Airlines, which canceled orders for 50 Max planes and replaced some of them with options.

Boeing orders have slumped over the past two years because of the long grounding of all 737 Max jets and the pandemic.

VOTING RIGHTS-MICHIGAN

Michigan-based companies weigh in on election bills

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The leaders of three-dozen major Michigan-based companies, including General Motors and Ford, have announced their objection to Republican-sponsored election bills that would make it harder to vote in Michigan and other states.

The businesses issued a joint statement Tuesday saying they are united for principles such as equitable access to the ballot and the avoidance of moves that reduce voting — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities. They stopped short of weighing in on specific legislation.

Corporate leaders also have criticized a new election law in Georgia and bills in Texas.

The Republican-led Michigan Senate will soon begin hearings on bills to require a photo ID to vote and restrict the hours in which people could drop their ballot in curbside boxes.

CLIMATE CHANGE-BUSINESS

Business leaders urge Biden to set ambitious climate goal

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 300 businesses and investors are calling on the Biden administration to set an ambitious climate change goal that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. The target would nearly double the nation’s previous commitment and require dramatic changes in the power, transportation and other sectors.

Those sending a letter Tuesday to President Joe Biden calling for action include such giants as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.

Biden is considering various options for expected carbon reductions by 2030 ahead of a virtual climate summit the United States is hosting this month. European business leaders also urge the U.S. to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

GENERAL MOTORS-INVESTIGATION

US investigating possible air bag failures in GM vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency is investigating complaints that the air bags may not inflate in a crash on thousands of General Motors vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the probe covers nearly 750,000 Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles from 2020 and 2021. Most are full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. The agency says it has 15 complaints of air bag malfunctions, including six crashes with eight reported injuries. It says that GM issued a service bulletin to dealers about the problem in March, but there hasn’t been a recall.

The agency says it opened the investigation to figure out how large the problem is and to assess safety issues.

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