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Business Highlights

Business Highlights

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Cost of a single Bitcoin exceeds $50,000 for first time

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The seemingly unstoppable rise of Bitcoin continued with the cost of a single unit of the digital currency rising above $50,000 for the first time. The price of Bitcoin has risen almost 200% in the last three months and its volatility was on display Tuesday. After rising above $50,600, it fell near $48,000 in the afternoon. Bitcoin’s recent rally comes as more companies signal the digital currency could eventually gain widespread acceptance as a means of payment. Still, few companies accept Bitcoin for payment now and investors mainly treat it as tradeable asset like gold.

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GameStop’s saga may be over; its effect on Wall Street isn’t

NEW YORK (AP) — The frenzy around GameStop’s stock may have quieted down, but the outsized influence small investors had in the saga is likely to stick around. While no one expects another supernova like GameStop, the tools that smaller investors employed to supercharge its stock can be used again and again. That is, if those smaller investors stay connected on social media forums and if regulators don’t change the rules to hinder them. These smaller investors are using many of the same tactics that big hedge funds have been employing, after all. And the result will likely be sharper swings and more volatility in the market.

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Vaccine delays leave grocery workers feeling expendable

As panicked Americans cleared supermarkets of toilet paper and food last spring, grocery employees gained recognition as among the most indispensable of the pandemic’s front-line workers. A year later, most of those workers are waiting for COVID-19 vaccines, with little clarity about when their turns may come. The country’s chaotic vaccine rollout has resulted in a patchwork of policies that differ from state-to-state, and even county-to-county in some areas. The result has been an inconsistent approach to vaccinating low-paid essential workers who are exposed to hundreds of customers each day. Only 13 states are allowing grocery workers to sign up for vaccines, according to the UFCW, which represents 1.3 million U.S. grocery, meatpacking and other front-line workers.

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As the virus crisis drags on, hard-hit French youth struggle

PARIS (AP) — The long lines of young people waiting for food aid that stretch through Paris neighborhoods several times a week are a dramatic symbol of the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on France’s youth. The pandemic has devastated economies the world over. In France, the economic fallout has weighed particularly heavily on young people — and their woes have only been compounded by disruptions to their studies and social interactions. Nearly a quarter of French young people can’t find work, and many university students now rely on food aid. A hotline devoted to students has seen a surge in calls, and young people have streamed into psychiatric wards. As President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged, “it’s hard to be 20” in coronavirus times.

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Australia to amend laws to make Google and Facebook pay

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s government says it will amend draft laws that would make Google and Facebook pay for news to clarify that publishers would be paid in lump sums rather than per click on news article links. The legislative amendments follow Australian ministers’ weekend discussions with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google. The conservative government hopes to enact the so-called News Media Bargaining Code before the current session of Parliament ends next week. A government statement said the changes to be introduced to Parliament on Wednesday “improve the workability of the code while retaining its overall effect.”

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Marriott CEO Sorenson, 62, dies of pancreatic cancer

Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson, who began limiting his schedule this month to pursue a more aggressive cancer treatment, has died. He was 62. Sorenson grew the company into the world’s largest hotel chain and for the past year has steered it through the coronavirus pandemic, a catastrophic event in the travel industry. Sorenson was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019. J.W. Marriott Jr., the company’s executive chairman, said Sorenson loved every aspect of the hotel business and relished traveling and meeting employees around the world. Sorenson was the first Marriott CEO whose name was not Marriott, and only the third to lead the company in its 93-year history.

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VIRUS TODAY: President Biden extends ban on foreclosures

President Joe Biden is extending a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30 to help homeowners struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages had been set to expire at the end of March. Census Bureau figures show that almost 12% of homeowners with mortgages were late on their payments. The White House says the coordinated actions announced by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture also will extend to the end of June the enrollment window for borrowers who want to request pauses or reductions in mortgage payments.

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COVID-19 shots might be tweaked if variants get worse

The makers of COVID-19 vaccines are figuring out how to tweak their recipes just in case the shots need an update against worrisome virus mutations. But changing the recipe is just one step. Harder is deciding if the coronavirus has mutated enough to update vaccines — and if so, how. Flu vaccine is reformulated just about every year, and authorities are looking to that system as a blueprint. Viruses always mutate, and one key step will be better tracking to target only the variants that really threaten the COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness.

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Highlights of COVID-19 relief bill progressing in House

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic-led effort to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package is moving ahead. Democrats in the House are advancing key pieces of the bill with new funding for checks, schools, state and local governments and small businesses. Republicans say the spending is vastly more than what is needed for the pandemic. But Democrats and President Joe Biden say a robust aid package is necessary to prevent a long and painful economic recovery. Their goal is to have COVID-19 relief approved by mid-March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires.

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Biden extends pandemic help for homeowners, renters wait

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is extending a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30 to help homeowners struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages had been set to expire March 31. On his first day in office, Biden had extended the moratorium from Jan. 31. Census Bureau figures show that almost 12% of homeowners with mortgages were late on their payments. The White House says the coordinated actions announced Tuesday by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture also will extend to June 30 the enrollment window for borrowers who want to request a pause or reduction in mortgage payments.

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The S&P 500 fell 2.24 points, or less than 0.1%, to 3,932.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 64.35 points, or 0.2%, to 31,522.75. The Nasdaq fell 47.97 points, or 0.3%, to 14,047.50. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 16.47 points, or 0.7%, to 2,272.89.


Updated : 2021-04-20 06:02 GMT+08:00