US jobless claims rise to 770,000 with layoffs still high
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 770,000, a sign that layoffs remain high even as much of the U.S. economy is steadily recovering from the coronavirus recession. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims climbed from 725,000 the week before. The numbers have dropped sharply since the depths of the recession last spring but still show that employers in some industries continue to lay off workers. Before the pandemic struck, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any one week. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly variations, dropped to 746,000, the lowest since late November. ___
Sheltered from virus, Kauai plans cautious return to tourism
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — As the coronavirus ravaged other parts of the U.S., residents on Kauai watched safely from afar. The rural Hawaiian island is one of the world’s most sought-after vacation destinations. But it has been nearly impossible to visit for most of the past year because of quarantine and other coronavirus restrictions. As a result, Kauai has been one of the safest places to be, with only 218 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. But the economy has suffered greatly, and now local officials are loosening restrictions. They say early measures gave the island time to build a strong foundation of public health. ___
EXPLAINER: Will you need a ‘vaccine passport’ to travel?
DALLAS (AP) — Airlines and others in the travel industry are throwing their support behind vaccine passports to boost pandemic-depressed travel, and authorities in Europe could embrace the idea quickly enough for the peak summer vacation season. Technology companies and travel-related trade groups are developing and testing various versions of the passports. It is not clear, however, whether any of the ones under development will be accepted broadly around the world, and the result could be confusion among travelers and disappointment for the travel industry.
Wall Street closes lower, pulled down by IT and energy
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street Thursday, as rising bond yields once again pulled down shares of technology companies and the energy sector sold off on a sharp drop in oil prices. The S&P 500 index fell 1.5%, on track for its first weekly loss in three weeks. Technology companies accounted for a big swath of the sell-off, which contributed to the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropping 3%, its second-worst loss of the year. Communications stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending also weighed on the market. Energy stocks fell the most as the price of U.S. crude oil skidded for the fifth straight day. Only financial stocks eked out a gain, as investors bet that higher interest rates would translate into healthier profits.
Students who got partial loan relief to see full discharge
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration says students who were defrauded by their colleges and received only partial relief from their federal loans could now have them fully erased. The action, announced Thursday, reverses a Trump administration policy. The Education Department says the change could lead to $1 billion in loans being canceled for 72,000 borrowers, all of whom attended for-profit schools. The department says the action applies to students who already had their claims approved and received “less than a full loan discharge.” A senior department official briefing reporters says they are reviewing the backlog of claims yet to be decided and those that have been denied.
FedEx’s profit nearly triples as online shopping grows
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — FedEx says its profit nearly tripled in its most recent quarter, despite winter weather that hobbled some of its facilities. Online shopping has surged during the pandemic as more people avoid going inside stores. That has made package delivery companies like FedEx in high demand. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company reported net income of $892 million for the three months ending Feb. 28, compared with $315 million in the same period the year before. Adjusted earnings came to $3.47 per share, beating Wall Street expectations. The company said revenue rose 23% to $21.5 billion, also beating expectations.
US long-term mortgage rates edge higher; 30-year at 3.09%
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates continued to edge higher this week as the benchmark 30-year loan stayed above the 3% mark. Rates remain near historic lows, however. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan rose to 3.09% from 3.05% last week. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans increased to 2.40% from 2.38% last week. The prospect of massive pandemic aid, following Congress’ recent enactment of the nearly $2 trillion relief package, has helped lift uncertainty about the economic recovery and likely coaxed mortgage rates higher.
The S&P 500 fell 58.66 points, or 1.5%, to 3,915.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 153.07 points, or 0.5%, to 32,862.30, after rising more than 200 points earlier. The Nasdaq slid 409.03 points, or 3%, to 13,116.17. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 68.81 points, or 2.9%, to 2,267.59.