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Business Highlights: Energy crunch, mainstream Bitcoin

Business Highlights: Energy crunch, mainstream Bitcoin

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Energy crunch hits global recovery as winter approaches

The world’s facing an energy crunch. Europe is feeling it most as natural gas prices skyrocket to five times what they were at the start of the year, forcing some factories to throttle back production. Gas reserves depleted last winter haven’t been made up, and chief supplier Russia has held back on supplying extra. Fears are rising that Europe will have to ration electricity if it’s a cold winter. China has seen power outages in some towns, the poor in Brazil are choosing between food and electricity and people worldwide are facing higher utility bills. The global economy is using more energy as it rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, straining gas, oil and other fuel supplies.

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As Bitcoin goes mainstream, Wall Street looks to cash in

NEW YORK (AP) — Whether you love cryptocurrencies or hate the very idea of them, they’re becoming more mainstream by the day. Cryptocurrencies have surged to nearly $2.5 trillion in total value, slightly more than the world’s most valuable company, with more than 200 million users. At that size, it’s simply too big for the financial establishment to ignore. Firms that cater to the world’s wealthiest families are increasingly putting some of their fortunes into crypto. Hedge funds are trading Bitcoin, which has big-name banks starting to offer them services around it. And in the latest milestone for the industry, an easy-to-trade fund tied to Bitcoin began trading on Tuesday.

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Tech, health care stocks lead Wall Street indexes higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street Tuesday, giving the S&P 500 its fifth straight gain and getting it closer to the record high it set in early September. The benchmark index added 0.7%. Health care companies made some of the biggest gains. Johnson & Johnson climbed 2.3% after raising its 2021 profit forecast again. Insurance company Travelers rose 1.6% after releasing results that easily beat analysts’ forecasts. The first exchange-traded fund to track Bitcoin futures rose 4.7% on its first day of trading. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.64%.

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Businesses nervously await fine print of vax-or-test rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s most aggressive move yet to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is almost ready to see the light of day. The government is close to publishing the details of a new vaccination-or-testing rule covering more than 80 million Americans at companies with 100 or more workers. Businesses are eager to see how and when companies will have to require their employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. But the full enforcement deadline may not take effect until next year. The rule could carry penalties of about $14,000 per violation.

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Chinese users have mixed feelings about LinkedIn departure

HONG KONG (AP) — After nearly seven years in China, LinkedIn says it will stop operating its localized version of the platform, replacing it with a jobs listing site. LinkedIn is the only major Western social media platform still operating in China. Others such as Facebook and Google pulled out of the Chinese market in the early 2010s. Come the end of the year, LinkedIn will only operate a jobs posting site called InJobs, with no social media feed or content sharing. LinkedIn’s decision to shut down its Chinese site drew mixed reactions from its users. Some lamented the loss of a professional networking site as similar alternatives do not exist in mainland China, while others shrugged it off.

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P&G raising prices to offset higher commodity, freight costs

NEW YORK (AP) — Proctor & Gamble is raising prices on a range of goods as higher commodity and freight costs are set to take a bite out of its profits. The maker of Pampers diapers, Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste said Tuesday it has been raising prices on product lines including baby, family, home and fabric care. In the last few weeks, it has started telling retailers that it will boost prices on more categories including grooming, skin care and oral care. And though it’s still early, the company said it has yet to notice consumer behavior changing in reaction to the higher prices.

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Facebook paying fine to settle US suit on discrimination

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook is paying a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims to resolve the Justice Department’s allegations that it discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreigners with special visas to fill high-paying jobs. Facebook also agreed in the settlement to train its employees in anti-discrimination rules and to conduct more widespread advertising and recruitment for job opportunities in its permanent labor certification program. The department said Facebook “routinely refused” to recruit, consider or hire U.S. workers, a group including U.S. citizens and nationals, asylees, refugees and lawful permanent residents, for positions it had reserved for temporary visa holders.

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Netflix posts higher 3Q earnings, solid subscriber growth

LOS GATOS, Calif. — Netflix has posted sharply higher third-quarter earnings thanks to a stronger slate of titles. Those include “Squid Game,” the dystopian show from South Korea that the company says became its biggest-ever TV show. Netflix said Tuesday that its subscriber base grew 9% from a year earlier to 213.6 million. That surpassed its own projections. It earned $1.45 billion, or $3.19 per share, in the latest quarter. That’s up from $790 million or $1.79 per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 16% to $7.48 billion from $6.44 billion. According to FactSet, analysts were expecting earnings of $2.56 per share on revenue of $7.48 billion.

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The S&P 500 rose 33.17 points, or 0.7%, to 4,519.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 198.70 points, or 0.6%, to 35,457.31. The Nasdaq added 107.28 points, or 0.7%, to 15,129.09. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 8.07 points, or 0.4%, to 2,275.91.