Business Highlights

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Small business program scrutinized for loans to big firms

NEW YORK (AP) — Congress set aside $659 billion to throw a lifeline to small businesses and organizations side-swiped by the coronavirus pandemic and to help paychecks keep flowing to workers who might otherwise head to the unemployment line. Yet that’s not exactly how it worked out. Among the companies on the partial list of recipients released Monday were fashion designers including Oscar de la Renta, retailers and fast-food chains including P.F. Chang’s and TGI Friday’s. While many companies belong to industries hard-hit by shutdown orders, they also have deep pockets or the backing of private equity firms.

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Trump donors among early recipients of coronavirus loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — As much as $273 million in federal coronavirus aid was awarded to more than 100 companies that are owned or operated by major donors to President Donald Trump’s election efforts. That’s according to an Associated Press analysis of government data that was released Monday. Many of the Trump-connected businesses were among the first to be approved for a loan in early April. All told, the Trump supporters who run these companies have collectively contributed at least $11.1 million since May 2015 to committees supporting Trump. Each donor gave at least $20,000. Trump’s campaign calls the program a resounding success.

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Data: Congress created virus aid, then reaped the benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly released government data show at least a dozen lawmakers have ties to organizations that received federal coronavirus aid. Among businesses that received money was a California hotel partially owned by the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as a shipping business started by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Car dealerships owned by Republican Reps. Roger Williams of Texas and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, and fast-food franchises owned by Republican Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, also received money through the Paycheck Protection Program.

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Hong Kong grappling with future under national security law

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s leader has provided scant reassurance over the city’s future under a new national security law that critics say undermines liberties and legal protections promised when China took control of the city. Millions of Hong Kong residents felt secure enough in their freedoms under the territory’s “one-country, two-systems” regime to bring their children to mass protests. Now some are worrying they might be punished for what they post on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Experts say many businesses may carry on as usual. But social media companies are wary, and short-form video app TikTok said Tuesday it will pull out of Hong Kong.

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Wall Street follows solid stock market rally with pullback

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s recent string of big gains came to an abrupt stop Tuesday as stocks closed broadly lower following a pullback in markets overseas. The S&P 500 fell 1.1%, snapping a five-day winning streak. Technology stocks, banks and companies that rely on consumer spending accounted for a big slice of the slide, which accelerated toward the end of the day. Bond yields fell and the price of gold rose, another sign of caution in the market. Stocks sank more across the Atlantic after the European Union said this year’s recession will be deeper than earlier forecast.

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McConnell eyes virus aid as evictions, benefits cuts loom

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Congress bracing for the next coronavirus aid package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is outlining Republican priorities. The GOP’s top priority is a five-year liability protection to shield doctors, schools, businesses and others from COVID-related lawsuits. McConnell is also considering a fresh round of direct payments targeted at those earning $40,000 a year or less. He is eyeing a $1 trillion package. Democrats propose up to $3 trillion. Congress is away for a two-week recess, but the contours of the debate are taking shape before lawmakers resume session July 20. Deadlines for many programs expire by the end of the month.

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Hiring soared in May as mass layoffs eased

WASHINGTON (AP) — The job market took a big step toward healing in May, though plenty of damage remains, as a record level of hiring that month followed record layoffs in March and April. The Labor Department also said Tuesday that the number of available jobs rose sharply but remained far below pre-pandemic levels. The figures, from the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, illustrate the whiplash the economy has experienced since the pandemic intensified in mid-March.

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Levi’s to cut 700 office jobs due to virus-related slump

NEW YORK (AP) — Levi’s said Tuesday that it will cut 700 office jobs, or about 15% of its worldwide corporate workforce, as it deals with a sharp drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. The San Francisco-based jeans maker said the layoffs will save it about $100 million a year and won’t affect workers at its stores or factories. Like other clothing companies, Levi’s had to temporarily close its stores due to the virus. Many of the department stores that sell its jeans were also shut.

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The S&P 500 dropped 34.40 points, 1.1%, to 3,145.32. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 396.85 points, or 1.5%, to 25,890.18. The Nasdaq shed 89.76 points, or 0.9%, to 10,343.89. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 26.89 points, or 1.9%, to 1,416.