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Business Highlights: Volatile stocks, consumer confidence

Business Highlights: Volatile stocks, consumer confidence

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Stocks end lower on Wall Street after another volatile day

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed lower on Wall Street Tuesday after another volatile day of trading. Technology companies like Microsoft were again the biggest drag on the market. The S&P 500 gave up 1.2%, but clawed back much of a midday drop after being down as much as 2.8%. The index has been falling steadily all month and is now down 9.2% from the record high it set on the first trading day of the year. The Nasdaq fell 2.3%. Markets have been jittery over rising inflation and worries that the Federal Reserve’s actions to fight it will either be too late or too aggressive.

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Stock investors’ nerves tested by inflation, omicron, Russia

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market is losing crucial support from the Federal Reserve. Omicron is causing havoc at businesses around the world. And Russia just might be preparing to invade Ukraine. These are just some of the uncertainties leading investors to sell stocks. The S&P 500 has dropped nearly 10% from its record set on the first trading day of the year, the biggest setback for Wall Street since its collapse when the pandemic first struck. The U.S. central bank is moving away from its easy money policies and preparing to raise interest rates. That likely spells more volatility for the stock market, which had another down day on Tuesday.

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US consumer confidence remains high after January downturn

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence declined this month as Americans became slightly less optimistic about their near-term financial prospects amid persistent inflation and the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus. The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index — which takes into account consumers’ assessment of current conditions and the their outlook for the future — fell to 113.8 in January, from 115.2 in December. The board’s present situation index, which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor conditions, rose this month but the expectations index, based on consumers’ outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, fell.

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Ski resorts aim for more efficient snowmaking amid drought

DENVER (AP) — With decreasing snowpack due to drought and climate change, the ski industry has invested millions of dollars in more efficient snowmaking systems. According to the Colorado-based National Ski Areas Association, about 87% of the 337 U.S. alpine resorts the trade group represents have snowmaking capabilities. Some question whether the practice is a wise use of energy and water. But a Colorado water official says snowmaking accounts for less than one-tenth of 1% of the water that is diverted in the state and is considered a beneficial use because it brings in tourism. U.S. ski resorts say they’ve been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but note more needs to happen on a global scale.

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GM to spend nearly $7B on EV, battery plants in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — General Motors is making the largest investment in company history in its home state of Michigan, announcing plans to spend nearly $7 billion to convert a factory to make electric pickup trucks and to build a new battery cell plant. The moves were announced Tuesday in Lansing. They will create up to 4,000 jobs and keep another 1,000 already employed at an underutilized assembly plant north of Detroit. The automaker plans to spend up to $4 billion converting and expanding its Orion Township assembly factory to make electric pickups and $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion building a third U.S. battery cell plant with a joint-venture partner in Lansing.

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Microsoft profits up 21%, giving cushion for gaming push

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Demand for Microsoft’s cloud-computing services and work software helped boost its quarterly profits by 21% as the pandemic kept many office workers at home. The company on Tuesday reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $18.8 billion. The software maker posted revenue of $51.7 billion for the October-December period, up 20% from a year earlier. Microsoft last week announced its plans to buy high-profile game publisher Activision-Blizzard for $68.7 billion, an all-cash deal that could be the priciest tech acquisition in history. But the financial results revealed Tuesday show it’s still business-focused products such as Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and its suite of software products that are driving the company’s growth.

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Biden administration officially withdraws vaccine rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has officially withdrawn a rule that would have required workers at big companies to get vaccinated or face regular COVID testing requirements. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed the withdrawal Tuesday. But the agency says it still strongly encourages vaccination of workers. OSHA announced a vaccine-or-test mandate in early November for companies with at least 100 employees. The rule would have impacted more than 80 million U.S. workers. But the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the rule on Jan. 13, saying OSHA had overstepped its authority. The court left in place a vaccine rule for health care workers.

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Prescription drugs, medical devices boost J&J in Q4

Growing prescription drug and medical device sales nudged Johnson & Johnson past fourth-quarter earnings expectations, and the health care giant’s COVID-19 vaccine gained momentum as well. J&J’s one-shot vaccine rang up $1.62 billion in sales in the last quarter of 2021, or more than double what it had recorded before the quarter. The vaccine wound up bringing in $2.38 billion last year, or slightly less than what company leaders have said they expected. J&J said Tuesday that it forecasts vaccine sales of $3 billion to $3.5 billion this year too, as countries continue to fight variants of the coronavirus.

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The S&P 500 fell 53.68 points, or 1.2%, to 4,356.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 66.77 points, or 0.2%, to 34,297.73. The Nasdaq lost 315.83 points, or 2.3%, to 13,539.29. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped 29.48 points, or 1.4%, to 2,004.03.


Updated : 2022-05-21 04:04 GMT+08:00