Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks make tentative gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off some early weakness and turned tentatively higher in morning trading on Wall Street, led by gains in store operators and other retailers. That sector has been beaten down in recent days over concerns that soaring inflation was eating into their profits. Some of those concerns dissipated after the high-end department store operator Nordstrom reported higher sales and raised its profit forecast. The...

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FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks make tentative gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off some early weakness and turned tentatively higher in morning trading on Wall Street, led by gains in store operators and other retailers. That sector has been beaten down in recent days over concerns that soaring inflation was eating into their profits. Some of those concerns dissipated after the high-end department store operator Nordstrom reported higher sales and raised its profit forecast. The S&P 500 rose 0.7%. A modest turn higher in the volatile technology sector helped push the Nasdaq up 1%, erasing its loss for the week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, fell slightly, to 2.74%.

BABY FORMULA-CONGRESS

FDA chief: COVID, mail mix-up delayed action on baby formula

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Food and Drug Administration is testifying about a series of setbacks that led to a months-long delay in inspecting the plant at the center of a nationwide baby formula shortage. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf is facing questions Wednesday from House lawmakers probing the formula shortage. Califf testified that a COVID-19 outbreak at Abbott’s formula plant led the FDA to delay its inspection from late December until January. Califf also detailed delays following up on a whistleblower complaint alleging serious violations at the baby formula plant last October.

OPIOID TRIAL-WEST VIRGINIA

Tentative $161.5M settlement reached in WVa opioid trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Attorneys for the state of West Virginia and two remaining pharmaceutical manufacturers have reached a tentative $161.5 million settlement. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the development as closing arguments were set to begin in a 7-week trial. The state sued Teva Pharmaceuticals, AbbVie’s Allergan and their family of companies. The judge agreed to put the trial on hold as the parties work out the full deal. West Virginia had reached a $99 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals last month. Before the trial started, the state announced a $26 million settlement with defendant Endo Health Solutions.

PFIZER-HEALTH EQUITY

Pfizer to offer low-cost medicines, vaccines to poor nations

UNDATED (AP) — Pfizer says it will provide nearly two dozen products at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries. That includes its top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment. The pharmaceutical giant said early Wednesday that it is launching a program aimed at improving health equity in 45 lower-income countries. Most of those nations are in Africa. The drugmaker aims to provide medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, some cancers and rare and inflammatory conditions. A company spokeswoman says only a small number of the medicines and vaccines are currently available in those countries.

DAVOS FORUM

Panel: War sets back global economic recovery

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Financial officials at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos say Russia’s war in Ukraine has been a major setback to the global economic recovery. Gita Gopinath, IMF’s first deputy managing director, told a panel on global growth Wednesday that “a confluence of shocks” are hitting the world. She says there’s a cost-of-living crisis as prices of fuel, food and other commodities soar. On top of that, central banks are raising interest rates to tackle high inflation, China is seeing a slowdown amid COVID-19 lockdowns and the real estate sector is facing weaknesses. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde says the war in Ukraine has revealed that the problems are especially acute in Europe.

EUROPE-RUSSIA-OLIGARCHS’ ASSETS

EU seeks more clout against sanctioned Russian oligarchs

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission is proposing to confiscate the frozen assets of oligarchs who try to violate the bloc’s sanctions adopted in response to the Russian war in Ukraine. The EU’s executive arm on Wednesday proposed two EU laws that would require the bloc’s 27 member states to cede a degree of jealously guarded national sovereignty over criminal matters. One piece of draft legislation seeks new European rules on freezing and confiscating the assets of people blacklisted by the EU. The second legislative proposal aims to expand the list of acts deemed to be “EU crimes” by including breaches of European sanctions. Almost 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) of oligarchs’ assets have so far been frozen by EU member countries.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR BONDS

Russia says it will pay foreign debt in rubles after US ban

UNDATED (AP) — Russia says it will pay dollar-denominated foreign debt in rubles, a move that is likely to be seen by foreign investors as a default. The U.S. Treasury Department allowed a license to expire Wednesday that permitted Russia to keep paying its debtholders through American banks. The Russian Finance Ministry said it will pay in rubles and offer “the opportunity for subsequent conversion into the original currency.” The ministry didn’t give a timeframe for that to happen. Russia has not defaulted on its international debts since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, when the Russian Empire collapsed and the Soviet Union was created.

ALASKA-PEBBLE MINE

EPA proposes restrictions in fight over Alaska mine

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing restrictions that would hinder plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. It is the latest in a long-running dispute over efforts by developers to advance a mine in a region known for its salmon runs. The EPA says the proposal would bar the discharges of dredged or fill material into the waters of the U.S. within the mine site footprint proposed by the developer. The Pebble Limited Partnership is seeking to develop the mine. It is appealing a 2020 decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denying approval of a key permit for the project.

ANGEL STADIUM-SALE VOIDED

Anaheim council voids sale of Angel Stadium amid scandal

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim City Council has voted to cancel the sale of Angel Stadium to Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno amid a political scandal that led the mayor to resign this week. The unanimous vote Tuesday directs the city attorney to void a 2020 agreement to sell the city-owned ballpark and 151 acres as part of plan to develop the land around it. A city statement says the vote follows a May 16 notice of a federal investigation into former Mayor Harry Sidhu. The former mayor has not been charged with any crime. His attorney said in a statement Monday that the stadium negotiations were lawful and Sidhu acted in the best interests of the city.

TWITTER-SHAREHOLDER MEETING

Twitter shareholders to meet amid Elon Musk’s takeover drama

UNDATED (AP) — Twitter’s regularly scheduled shareholder meeting Wednesday won’t include a vote on Tesla billionaire Elon Musk’s $44 billion bid for the social platform. That vote will take place at a yet-undetermined date in the future. But the drama surrounding that offer — almost all of it created by Musk himself — might well spill over into today’s proceedings anyway. Musk had promised that taking over Twitter would enable him to rid the social media platform of its annoying “spam bots.” But he’s posted that the deal is “on hold” after arguing — without presenting evidence — that the bot problem is larger than Twitter says.

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