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Business Highlights

Business Highlights

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Stress rises for unemployed as extra $600 benefit nears end

WASHINGTON (AP) — A major source of income for roughly 30 million unemployed people is set to end, threatening their ability to meet rent and pay bills and potentially undercutting the fragile economic recovery. In March, Congress approved an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits; that additional payment expires next week unless it gets renewed. The unemployment insurance program has emerged as a crucial source of support at a time when the jobless rate is at Depression-era levels. In May, unemployment benefits made up 6% of all U.S. income, ahead of even Social Security, and up dramatically from February, when it amounted to just 0.1% of national income.

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China becomes first economy to grow since virus pandemic

BEIJING (AP) — China has become the first major economy to grow since the start of the coronavirus pandemic after anti-virus lockdowns were lifted and factories and stores reopened. The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 3.2% over a year earlier in the quarter ending in June. That was a dramatic improvement over the previous quarter’s 6.8% contraction that was China’s worst performance since at least the mid-1960s. But it still was the weakest positive figure since China started reporting quarterly growth in the early 1990s. China, where the coronavirus pandemic began in December, was the first economy to shut down and the first to start the drawn-out process of recovery in March after the ruling Communist Party declared the disease under control.

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Mnuchin urges swift aid bill; ex-Fed chairs want bigger deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is urging Congress to quickly enact a new pandemic relief package targeting hardest-hit swaths of the economy, as lawmakers race to stand up federal aid in the face of the latest spike in coronavirus cases across much of the Sun Belt and persistent severe unemployment. Deadlines loom as the $600 weekly federal benefits now received by tens of millions of unemployed workers are set to expire July 31. Former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen say Congress should do more to help the economy, such as extending increased unemployment benefits.

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Court backs Trump expansion of cheap health insurance plans

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided federal appeals court has upheld the Trump administration’s expansion of cheaper short-term health insurance plans as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act’s costlier comprehensive insurance. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in a 2-1 decision on Friday that the administration had the legal authority to increase the duration of the health plans from three to 12 months, with the option of renewing them for 36 months. The plans are derided by critics as “junk insurance” and do not have to cover people with preexisting conditions or provide basic benefits like prescription drugs. An insurer group said it would appeal.

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IMF: U.S. economy will drop 6.6% in 2020 in face of pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund predicted that the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdowns meant to contain it will cause the U.S. economy to shrink 6.6% this year. The grim forecast is actually an upgrade from one the IMF made last month when it foresaw the American economy contracting 8% in 2020. But the 189-country lending organization warned that the U.S. economy faces downside risks from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The IMF expects the U.S. economy to rebound to 3.9% growth next year. But the unemployment rate will remain elevated, the IMF said, averaging 7.4% the last three months of 2021.

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Nevada casino company gets approval to become gambling giant

A $17.3 billion buyout creating the world’s biggest casino company has final approval from regulators. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission voted Friday to let Nevada-based Eldorado Resorts acquire Caesars Entertainment Corp. after assurances from antitrust analysts that the deal affecting four of the nine casinos in Atlantic City won’t concentrate too much of the local gambling economy in one company’s hands. Eldorado is expected to close the deal in coming days. It plans to have 52 properties in 16 U.S. states. The merger also affects Caesars properties in the U.K., Egypt, Canada and a golf course in Macau.

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Republicans eye sweeping shield from coronavirus liability

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new plan from Senate Republicans to award businesses, schools, and universities sweeping exemptions from lawsuits arising from inadequate coronavirus safeguards is putting Republicans and Democrats at loggerheads. The liability proposal promises to shield employers that negligently expose customers and workers to the coronavirus, limiting their legal exposure. That’s according to a draft of the plan obtained by The Associated Press. Supporters say the proposal protects businesses and other employers who adhere to public-health guidelines in good faith. Opponents say it will permit wrongdoing to go unpunished. Lawmakers will consider the liability plan as they negotiate another coronavirus relief bill.

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Personal assistant charged in dismembered tech CEO’s killing

NEW YORK (AP) — A personal assistant arrested Friday in the slaying of a 33-year-old tech entrepreneur who was found dismembered inside his luxury Manhattan condo was believed to have owed his boss a “significant amount of money,” police said. 21-year-old Tyrese Haspil faces a murder charge in the death of Fahim Saleh. Saleh’s beheaded body was found Tuesday afternoon by a cousin who had gone to his apartment to check on him. Haspil had handled finances and personal matters for Saleh, whose ventures included a ride-hailing service in Nigeria. Information on Haspil’s arraignment and a lawyer who could speak on his behalf were not immediately available.

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Pelosi urges Trump to ‘ask for directions’ on virus crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is comparing President Donald Trump to “the man who refuses to ask for directions.” She is pleading with the White House to seek input from the nation’s scientific leaders to reverse the rise in coronavirus cases and deaths. Tensions are rising as Congress considers the next virus relief package with no apparent endgame in sight to the pandemic that now threatens longer-term economic and societal turmoil that first envisioned. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed five-year liability shield to protect schools and businesses from COVID lawsuits was sent to the White House for review. McConnell is readying the GOP’s $1 trillion package, a counteroffer to the $3 trillion proposal that House Democrats approved in May.

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Experts say Twitter breach troubling, undermines trust

HONG KONG (AP) — Experts say a breach in Twitter’s security that allowed hackers to break into the accounts of leaders and technology moguls is one of the worst attacks in recent years and may shake trust in a platform politicians and CEOs use to communicate with the public. The ruse discovered Wednesday included bogus tweets from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires. Hackers used social engineering to target some of Twitter’s employees and then gained access to the high-profile accounts, sending out tweets in an apparent Bitcoin scam. The FBI is now investigating the massive hack.

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The S&P 500 rose 9.16 points, or 0.3%, to 3,224.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 62.76 points, or 0.2%, to 26,671.95. The Nasdaq Composite gained 29.36 points, or 0.3%, to 10,503.19. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks added 5.76 points, or 0.4%, to 1,473.32.


Updated : 2021-01-28 14:42 GMT+08:00