Business Highlights

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Mnuchin and Powell push differing priorities to aid economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell offered Congress contrasting views of what the government’s most urgent priority should be. Mnuchin struck a theme pushed by President Donald Trump by warning that prolonged business shutdowns would pose long-term threats to the economy, from widespread bankruptcies for small businesses to long-term unemployment for millions of Americans. Powell stressed, as he has in recent weeks, that the nation is gripped by an economic shock “without modern precedent” and that Congress must consider providing further financial aid to support states, localities, businesses and individuals to prevent an even deeper recession.

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Walmart becomes a pandemic lifeline, online sales surge 74%

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart emerged as one of the few lifelines to millions of people as the coronavirus spread, leading to surging profit and sales for the world’s largest retailer. Online sales jumped 74% for the Arkansas-based retail giant’s fiscal first quarter that ended April 30. The sales were fueled by a rush on canned foods, paper towels and other supplies as people sheltered in place. The company said Tuesday that same-store sales at its U.S. namesake stores surged, but so did costs. Walmart spent $900 million in additional compensation for workers who staffed checkout lines and kept goods flowing at warehouses.

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A late slump leaves stock market lower after a choppy day

NEW YORK (AP) — A late slide left the stock market broadly lower at the end of a choppy day of trading. The S&P 500 index lost 1% Tuesday, giving back some of the ground it had gained in a big rally a day earlier. Losses for banks, health care stocks and elsewhere outweighed solid showings for technology companies, which are the only sector in the green this year. Kohl’s, whose stores are closed, fell after reporting a $541 million loss as its revenue fell more than 40%. Bond yields fell in a sign that investors’ optimism about the economy was waning again.

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Beaches, nightclubs? Europe mulls how to get tourists back

AYIA NAPA, Cyprus (AP) — Southern Europe is trying to figure out how to entice tourists to come back even while the coronavirus remains a threat. In places where tourism accounts for much of the economy, officials are weighing changes in how hotels, resorts and nightclubs operate. The reforms are designed to curb the spread of the disease and give travelers the confidence to go on vacation again.

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AT&T quits Venezuela as US sanctions force it to defy Maduro

MIAMI (AP) — AT&T has decided to immediately abandon Venezuela’s pay TV market as U.S. sanctions prohibit its DirecTV platform from broadcasting channels that it is required to carry by the socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro. The Dallas-based company said Tuesday its decision is effective immediately. AT&T is the largest player in Venezuela’s pay TV market and was one of the last major American companies still operating in the crisis-wracked country. But it has come under pressure for abiding by Maduro regulators’ orders to remove some 10 channels such as CNN en Español that have broadcast anti-government protests and critical coverage of the country amid the past year’s turmoil.

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Small Virginia company gets huge federal medicines contract

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia-based company has won a massive federal contract to manufacture medicines needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday it was awarding a contract worth up to $812 million to Richmond-based Phlow to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients, chemical compounds and generic drugs inside the United States. HHS said a new facility will be built in Virginia as part of the effort to enhance the U.S. supply chain of essential medicines.

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France: Amazon back in business after virus deal with unions

PARIS (AP) — Amazon is gradually reopening its warehouses in France after consulting with unions on virus safety measures. Weeks of legal troubles had sharply curtailed Amazon’s French business. In a big victory for labor unions, French courts ruled last month that Amazon hadn’t done enough to protect its workers from the coronavirus. The company shut its French warehouses as a result – just as demand soared because stores were shuttered by virus restrictions.

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Google says it won’t build AI tools for oil and gas drillers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon. A statement from the company followed a Greenpeace report Tuesday documenting how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the U.S. and around the world. The environmentalist group says Amazon, Microsoft and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil that have looked for new technology to get more oil and gas out of the ground. But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for taking a step away from those deals.

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The S&P 500 lost 30.97 points, or 1.1%, to 2,922.94, snapping a three-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 390.51 points, or 1.6%, to 24,206.86. The Nasdaq composite dropped 49.72 points, or 0.5%, to 9,185.10. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks gave up 25.97 points, or 2%, to 1,307.72.