Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has stopped a major push by the Biden administration to boost the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, a requirement that employees at large businesses get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job. At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S. The court’s orders Thursday came during a spike in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant. The court’s conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule on U.S.
Fed nominee Brainard: Fighting inflation is top priority
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lael Brainard, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Federal Reserve’s No. 2 spot, said Thursday that combating high inflation is the central bank’s top priority and said she believed the Fed could reduce it without sacrificing economic growth. Testifying at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Brainard noted that inflation is “too high, and working people around the country are concerned about how far their paychecks will go.” “We are taking actions ... that I have confidence will be bringing inflation down, while continuing to allow the labor market to return to full strength over time,” she said. ___
Twitter, Meta among tech giants subpoenaed by Jan. 6 panel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Months after requesting documents from more than a dozen social platforms, the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has issued subpoenas targeting Twitter, Meta, Reddit and YouTube after lawmakers said the companies’ initial responses were inadequate. The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, demanded records Thursday from the companies relating to their role in allegedly spreading misinformation about the 2020 election and promoting domestic violent extremism on their platforms in the lead-up to the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. “Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps — if any — social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence,” Thompson, D-Miss., said in the letter.
Tech stocks lead Wall Street lower again, Nasdaq falls 2.5%
NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies led a sell-off on Wall Street Thursday that pulled the major indexes into the red for the week. The S&P 500 fell 1.4% after shedding an early gain of 0.4%. The benchmark index was coming off two days of gains following daily losses since the first day of trading in 2022. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 2.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5%. The selling came as investors gauged company earnings reports and new data pointing to rising prices at the wholesale level. Inflation has been a key focus for investors as they try to gauge how rising prices will impact businesses, consumers and the Federal Reserve’s policy on interest rates in 2022.
Wholesale prices jumped a record 9.7% in 2021
WASHINGTON (AP) — Prices at the wholesale level surged by a record 9.7% for all of 2021, setting an annual record and providing further evidence that inflation is still present at all levels of the U.S. economy. The Labor Department reported Thursday that its producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches consumers, did slow on a monthly basis, rising just 0.2% in December compared with November, when prices had shot up 1%. The 12-month increase in wholesale inflation of 9.7% was also lower than a revised 9.8% increase for the 12 months ending in November. However, the government uses the December to December change for the yearly increase and on that basis the 9.7% rise was the fastest annual jump on record, far above the 0.8% increase in 2020 and the 1.4% rise in 2019.
US to allow teen semi drivers in test apprenticeship program
DETROIT (AP) — The federal government is moving forward with a plan to let teenagers drive big rigs from state to state in a test program. Currently, truckers who cross state lines must be at least 21 years old, but an apprenticeship program required by Congress to help ease supply chain backlogs would let 18-to-20-year-old truckers drive outside their home states. The pilot program, detailed Thursday in a proposed regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would screen the teens, barring any with driving-while-impaired violations or traffic tickets for causing a crash. But safety advocates say the program runs counter to data showing that younger drivers get in more crashes than older ones.
U.S. jobless claims rise by 23,000 to 230,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since mid-November, but still low by historic standards. U.S. jobless claims climbed by 23,000 last week to 230,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week blips, rose nearly 6,300 to almost 211,000. The weekly applications, a proxy for layoffs, have risen in four of the last five weeks, a period that runs in tandem with the spread of the omicron variant. Yet the jobs market has bounced back strongly from last year’s coronavirus recession. Jobless claims had fallen mostly steadily for about a year and they dipped below the pre-pandemic average of around 220,000 a week.
After wave of cancellations, Delta sees recovery in 2022
ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines lost $408 million in the final quarter of 2021, dragged down by a COVID-19 surge that rocked the airline in December, and the carrier predicted Thursday that it will suffer one more quarterly loss before travel perks up in spring and summer. CEO Ed Bastian said 8,000 employees have contracted COVID-19 over the last four weeks. Sick workers and winter storms have led to more than 2,200 cancelled flights since Dec. 24. Cancellations have dropped sharply in the past few days — Bastian said Delta had only two coronavirus-related cancellations on Wednesday — but the spate of spiked flights cost the airline $75 million and the latest outbreak, caused by the omicron variant of the virus, is expected to push the industry’s recovery back by two months.
The S&P 500 shed 67.32 points, or 1.4%, to 4,659.03. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 176.70 points, or 0.5%, to 36,113.62. The Nasdaq lost 381.58 points, or 2.5%, to 14,806.81. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies slipped 16.62 points, or 0.8%, to 2,159.44.