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Business Highlights

Business Highlights

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Virus keeps Black Friday crowds thin, shoppers shift online

NEW YORK (AP) — After months of slumping sales and businesses toppling into bankruptcy, Black Friday is offering a small beacon of hope. Black Friday is normally the busiest shopping day of the year and draws millions of shoppers eager to get started on their holiday spending. But a spike in coronavirus cases is threatening the economy’s recovery from the sudden plunge in the spring. Crowds were dramatically diminished as shoppers buy more online. Many retailers are beefing up their safety protocols. They are moving their doorbuster deals online and offering curbside pickup as a last grasp at sales before they head into the dark days of winter.

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Stocks rise on Wall Street as S&P 500 hits record high

NEW YORK (AP) — The S&P 500 is closing a shortened session at a record high Friday as investors continue to look forward to the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and relief for the economy. The benchmark index rose 0.2%, led by gains in technology companies, and closed at an all-time high of 3,638. Optimism about a vaccine persists even as one vaccine candidate suffered a setback and cases of coronavirus remain at elevated levels. Meanwhile, retailers were hoping that their slumping sales get a boost from shoppers on Black Friday but early indications are that store traffic was light. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 0.85%.

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British bike maker pedals on, with Brexit deal up in the air

LONDON (AP) — The team at Brompton Bicycle Ltd. thought they were prepared for Brexit. Bosses at the British firm looked at the uncertainty swirling around the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union and started stockpiling parts. Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Now, with just over a month to go until Britain makes a sharp economic break with the EU, Brompton faces uncertainty about supplies and unexpected new competition from China. Brompton is just one of thousands of British companies bracing for huge changes on Jan. 1, when Britain leaves the economic structures of the 27-nation bloc. Talks on a free new trade are stuck, with a breakthrough needed in days to avoid a disruptive no-deal British exit.

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China slaps 200% tax on Australia wine amid tensions

BEIJING (AP) — China has added wine to the growing list of Australian goods barred from its markets in a trade war against Australia over disputes including its support for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus. The Ministry of Commerce imposed import taxes of up to 212% that Australia’s trade minister said will make Australian wine unsellable in China, his country’s biggest export market. Earlier, China stopped or reduced imports of beef, coal, barley, seafood, sugar and timber from Australia after it supported calls for an independent probe into the origin of the pandemic, which began in China in December.

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For Big Tech, Biden brings a new era but no ease in scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) — The big tech companies enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Obama-Biden administration. Joe Biden is back now, ready to take the presidential mantle in January. But times have changed, and Big Tech is hardly expecting a return to those halcyon days. In the years since Barack Obama and Biden left the White House, outrage has grown among the public and politicians of both parties against Silicon Valley. Biden may aim to take a bite out of the dominance of Big Tech and may welcome an opportunity to work with the opposing side to curb tech’s power. But there will be speed bumps in the way.

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UK to launch new watchdog next year to police tech giants

LONDON (AP) — Britain plans to create a new watchdog to police big tech companies including Google and Facebook to counter their market dominance and prevent them from exploiting consumers and small businesses. The U.K. government said Friday that it’s setting up a “digital markets unit” next year to enforce a new code of conduct governing the behavior of tech giants that dominate the online advertising market. The digital markets unit, scheduled to launch in April, will oversee a new regulatory regime for tech companies that’s aimed at spurring more competition.

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Many turn to real Christmas trees as bright spot amid virus

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Christmas tree growers who have faced increased interest in artificial trees in recent years say demand for real, fresh-cut evergreens is strong this season. Wholesale growers and small farms alike say customers are showing up earlier than normal and there are more of them. More Americans are staying home for the holidays amid coronavirus restrictions and want a new — or renewed — tradition to end a dreary year on a happier note. Plus, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board says fresh-cut trees are largely displayed outside, where there’s a lower risk of viral spread.

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Trump administration moves ahead on gutting bird protections

The Trump administration is moving forward on gutting a longstanding federal protection for roughly 1,000 species of birds in the United States. Friday’s move comes despite objections from former federal officials and many scientists that billions more birds will likely perish in coming decades as a result. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its assessment of the rule, a final step that means the rollback could become official in 30 days. Oil and gas and other industries had sought the rollback, which sharply limits federal prosecution for industry practices that kill migratory birds. Industry operations kill an estimated 450 million to 1.1 billion birds annually.

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UK retail empire of billionaire Philip Green teeters on edge

LONDON (AP) — The owner of some of Britain’s best-known fashion chains like Topshop appears to be on the brink of collapse following the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Arcadia Group said Friday in a statement that it is working on “contingency options to secure the future of the group’s brands.” It is another devastating blow to the British retailing sector in the run-up to the crucial Christmas trading period. Arcadia’s brands also include Burton, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins. Like others they have suffered during the pandemic and the associated restrictions on public life across the U.K.

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Picture of US economy is worrisome as virus inflicts damage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gripped by the accelerating viral outbreak, the U.S. economy is under pressure from persistent layoffs, diminished income and nervous consumers, whose spending is needed to drive a recovery from the pandemic. A flurry of data released Wednesday suggested that the spread of the virus is intensifying the threats to an economy still struggling to recover from the deep recession that struck in early spring. The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week for a second straight week to 778,000, evidence that many employers are still slashing jobs more than eight months after the virus hit.

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The S&P 500 rose 8.70 points, or 0.2%, to 3,638.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 37.90 points, or 0.1%, to 29,910.37. The Nasdaq gained 111.44 points, or 0.9%, to 12,205.85. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 10.25 points, or 0.6%, to 1,855.27.


Updated : 2021-01-27 13:06 GMT+08:00