Update on the latest in business:


Asian shares, US futures advance after Biden speech

UNDATED (AP) — Asian shares and U.S. futures have risen after President Joe Biden delivered a speech to Congress that outlined ambitious plans for jobs-creating spending on early education, child care and other public services.

Shares rose in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Sydney. Tokyo’s markets were closed for a holiday.

Benchmarks on Wall Street slipped Wednesday after the Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged near zero, even as it noted recent improvement in the economy. The S&P 500 ended down just 0.1% after some earlier gains evaporated. Investors were also dealing with a wave of earnings reports from major U.S. companies. Bond yields held steady.


Biden to the nation and world: ‘America is rising anew’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden declared in his first address to a joint session of Congress that “America is rising anew.” He’s pointing to the nation’s emergence from the pandemic as a vital moment to rebuild the U.S. economy and fundamentally transform roles the government plays in American life.

President Joe Biden says 12 years of education is no longer enough to compete in the 21st century. But he’s also saying a college degree is unnecessary for nearly 90% of the jobs that would be created through his proposal to boost the country’s roads, bridges and other public works.

Biden is using his first speech to Congress to promote his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and his newly announced $1.8 trillion proposal that includes universal preschool, two years of free community college and $225 billion for child care.

Republicans are seeking a narrower, less costly infrastructure plan. Biden is selling his plan as a massive job creator. He calls it a “blue-collar blueprint to build America.”


Moderna beefs up manufacturing for 2021-22 doses

UNDATED (AP) — Moderna says it is beefing up global manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to produce up to 3 billion doses in 2022.

The company predicts supplying between 800 million and 1 billion doses this year. But it’s looking ahead as much of the world still will need vaccinations next year and it’s trying to be ready to supply a booster shot.

Moderna’s vaccine is authorized for use by adults in the U.S., European Union and other countries. The company expects data soon from a U.S. study of the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds, and has begun testing the shots in younger children.


Samsung reports profit jump on smartphone, TV sales

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics says its operating profit for the last quarter jumped 46% from a year earlier driven by increased sales of smartphones and televisions as its business continues to flourish amid the pandemic.

The South Korean tech giant also says its quarterly revenue of $59 billion was its highest for the first three months of the year.

Samsung is coming off a robust business year, with its dual strength in parts and finished products allowing it to benefit from the pandemic and the prolonged trade war between United States and China.


China launches core module for permanent space station

BEIJING (AP) — China has launched the core module for its first permanent space station that will host astronauts long-term. The Tianhe module blasted into space today atop a Long March 5B rocket on the southern island province of Hainan. It’s the first of 11 missions necessary to complete construction, provision the station and send up a three-person crew by the end of next year.

The astronauts will live on the station for six months at a time.

China’s space program has also recently brought back the first new lunar samples in more than 40 years and expects to land a probe and rover on the Mars surface later next month.


California man guilty in $100M Afghanistan fraud scheme

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California man has pleaded guilty in a scheme to bilk the Afghanistan government out of more than $100 million with a phony bid to build an electric grid. The U.S. attorney’s office says Saed Amiri of Granite Bay pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors say in 2015 and 2016 he submitted a bid for a U.S.-funded contract to build five power substations in Afghanistan.

Authorities say he submitted phony documents to support a claim that his Afghanistan company had previous substation construction experience.

Amiri later withdrew the bid after it came under additional scrutiny.


Gone Fission: Controversial nuke plant near NYC shuts down

BUCHANAN, N.Y. (AP) — Indian Point north of New York City will permanently stop producing nuclear power Friday.

The closure caps a decades-long battle over a key source of electricity in the heart of New York City’s suburbs that opponents call a threat to millions living in the densely packed region.

The retirement of the Indian Point Energy Center along the Hudson River could increase New York’s short-term reliance on natural gas plants, despite the state’s goal of reducing carbon emissions. But critics who fought for its shutdown argue any benefits from the plant are eclipsed by the prospect of a major nuclear accident or a terror strike 25 miles north of the city.


NZ Rugby votes to sell commercial share to US investors

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Rugby will move ahead with a plan to sell a 12.5 percent stake in its commercial rights to American investors after winning the support of provinces at its annual meeting.

New Zealand’s 26 provincial unions voted unanimously in favor of the proposal to sell the stake to California-based Silver Lake Partners for 387.5 million New Zealand dollars (US$279.2 million). It values the rights at NZ$3.1 billion ($2.2 billion).

The only remaining obstacle to the deal is the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association. The union representing professional players has expressed concern about several aspects of the sale.

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