Business Highlights

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Stocks slide on Wall Street as new coronavirus cases surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks slumped on Wall Street after new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit their highest level in two months, renewing worries that the economy may take longer to bounce back than investors had hoped. The S&P 500 fell 2.6% Wednesday, wiping out its gains for the week. Markets have been rallying recently on hopes that U.S. states and regions around the world could continue to lift lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Cruise lines, which would stand to suffer greatly if travel restrictions are extended, were among the biggest losers. Energy stocks fell along with oil prices.

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Bayer paying up to $10.9B to settle Monsanto weedkiller case

BERLIN (AP) — German pharma giant Bayer says it’s paying up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup. Monsanto has faced numerous lawsuits over claims that Roundup causes cancer. In a statement Wednesday, Bayer said it was also paying up $1.22 billion to settle two further cases, one involving PCB in water. The company says the Roundup settlement involves about 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. Under the agreement, Bayer will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve current litigation over Roundup, and $1.25 billion to address potential future litigation.

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Virus pummels commercial real estate, could end long boom

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are likely to see more “for rent” signs in the coming months. That’s because many businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic are expected to abandon offices and storefronts. The changes are happening because more employees are working from home, and more people are shopping online. The result could bring an end to the long boom in the nation’s commercial real estate market. Hotels, restaurants and stores that closed in March have seen only a partial return of customers. Many of them may fail. Commercial landlords have reported an increase in missed rent payments. They expect vacancies to rise through the end of the year.

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Wirecard scandal puts spotlight on German company regulation

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The accounting scandal at German payments company Wirecard is turning up the heat on the country’s financial regulator. Legislators are asking why the financial watchdog didn’t respond more forcefully when news media reports said the company’s books were questionable. The head of the BaFin agency has admitted Wirecard’s implosion is “a disaster.” Experts say Wirecard’s complexity and international connections may have thrown regulators off. Economists and legislators are saying the scandal hurts Germany’s reputation as a reliable place to invest. Wirecard’s former CEO Markus Braun has been arrested on suspicion of inflating the company’s numbers.

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Report: State, local aid needed to avert 4 million layoffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new private sector report is warning anew of continuing damage to the economy if Washington doesn’t deliver several hundred billion dollars in budget relief to states and local governments. But Wednesday’s report by Moody’s Analytics, a private sector economic research firm, also could help illustrate a path toward bipartisan agreement on next month’s fifth, and possibly final, COVID-19 response bill. The study warns that doing nothing to address the economic perils of state layoffs and cutbacks could cost 4 million jobs. But it also estimates that significantly less money is needed right now than the $900 billion or so package passed by House Democrats last month.

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Google tweaks privacy settings to keep less user data

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is tweaking its privacy settings to keep less data on new users by default. The search giant said that starting Wednesday, it will automatically and continuously delete web and app activity and location history for new users after 18 months. Settings for existing users won’t be affected but the company will send reminders about the feature. The company is also making it easier to toggle in and out of incognito mode while using its Search, Maps and YouTube mobile apps by doing a long press on the profile photo. In incognito mode, Google doesn’t remember any activity during online browsing.

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Twitter bans pro-Trump meme maker for copyright violations

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A conservative social media user whose memes have been repeatedly reposted by President Donald Trump has been kicked off Twitter for repeated copyright violations. Logan Cook, who posts under the name Carpe Donktum, was permanently suspended Tuesday night. The move came days after Trump retweeted a Cook video that contained doctored CNN footage. Twitter placed a “manipulated media” on the video. Cook, who Trump once hailed as a “genius,” says the ban is unfair and amounts of censorship, but Twitter says it was the result of multiple violations of its policy on copyright infringement.

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Mexican official hit after call to nationalize lithium mines

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s largest union group is criticizing calls by the environment secretary to nationalize the country’s newly discovered lithium deposits, considered among the largest in the world. The Mexican Workers Federation, known as the CTM, claimed the nationalization proposal would scare off foreign investment and called it “ideological fanaticism.” The CTM represents some mine workers.

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The S&P 500 dropped 80.96 points, or 2.6%, to 3,050.33. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 710.16 points, or 2.7%, to 25,445.94. The Nasdaq fell 222.20 points, or 2.2%, to 9,909.17. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 49.60 points, or 3.4%, to 1,389.74.