Stocks rise on Wall Street, extending their weekly gains
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street, putting major indexes on track to extend their weekly gains. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% and the Nasdaq 0.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%. Major communications and technology companies have helped boost the broader market. Shares of Google’s parent company Alphabet rose 8.1% after it reported that its digital advertising business sent profits jumping 36% last quarter. Investors continue to scrutinize the latest round of corporate earnings. Energy stocks and some retailers fell and dampened gains elsewhere in the market. Bond yields fell.
OPEC OIL PRICES
Caution from OPEC+ producers will keep oil prices high
UNDATED (AP) – Major oil-producing nations are adding just a little more oil to the global economy. The alliance of OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia and non-members led by Russia agreed today to add 400,000 barrels per day in March. This is in line with plans by the OPEC+ group to add this amount of oil each month and gradually restore the deep cuts made at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The move comes as oil prices hover near their highest levels since 2014, pushing up fuel costs for drivers. Fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine add to supply issues, as Russia is a major oil producer and could face sanctions from the United States and Europe.
Inflation in 19 countries using the euro hits new high
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Inflation fueled by high oil and gas prices has hit record highs in Europe for the third month in a row. This prolongs consumer pain and sharpens questions about future decisions by the European Central Bank. The European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat reported on Wednesday that the 19 countries using the euro saw consumer prices rise by 5.1% a year in January. The figure broke records of 5% in December and 4.9% in November and was the highest since record keeping began in 1997. Once again soaring energy prices played a major role. Rising consumer energy bills have quickly become a political issue in Europe.
The EU wants to allow natural gas and nuclear in green investments
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission wants to include nuclear power and natural gas in its plans to build a climate-friendly future. Wednesday’s proposal from the European Commission divides member countries and has sparked outcry from environmentalists as “greenwashing”. The green labeling system would define what is considered a sustainable energy investment in the 27-nation bloc. Under certain conditions, gas and nuclear power could be part of the mix, making it easier for private investors to inject money into both. The plan will appeal to nuclear-powered France and gas-dependent Germany, but critics call it a blow to climate goals.
France to start using Pfizer’s COVID-19 drug, the first in the EU
PARIS (AP) — France says it will begin administering Pfizer’s coronavirus antiviral drug this week, the first pill for the treatment of COVID-19 approved in the 27-nation EU. France is still reporting one of the highest daily infections per capita in the world, but hospitalizations in intensive care linked to the virus are decreasing. The French government began on Wednesday to lift restrictions linked to the increase in omicron cases. Meanwhile, France received its first 10,000 doses of the Pfizer drug Paxlovid. They will be available in pharmacies from Friday. The health ministry says France is the first country in the European Union to start providing the treatment since it won regulatory approval last week in the bloc.
Cancer patients said to be cured a decade after gene therapy
UNDATED (AP) – Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say they have cured two men with leukemia using gene therapy that turns a patient’s own cells into cancer killers. A decade after their treatment, doctors found no signs of cancer in their bodies. Researchers described both cases in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. They say the two examples show that gene therapy treatment can attack cancer immediately, then stay inside the body for years and keep the disease at bay. This unique treatment is now used by thousands of people around the world to treat certain blood cancers.
CNN president resigns after relationship with colleague
NEW YORK (AP) — CNN President Jeff Zucker has abruptly resigned after acknowledging a consensual relationship with another network executive. Wednesday’s announcement ended his nine-year tenure at the helm of one of the country’s biggest media companies. Zucker said he acknowledged the relationship when asked about it as part of an investigation into Chris Cuomo. He was the former CNN anchor who was fired after discovering he had helped his brother, then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as he navigated a sexual harassment investigation. It was not immediately clear who would lead CNN while a permanent replacement is sought.
BOEING AMERICAN AIRLINES
American to order more Boeing planes while delaying others
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines plans to order more Boeing Max planes while delaying delivery of larger Boeing Dreamliners. The airline said today it plans to exercise previous options and purchase another 30 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which it uses for flights within the United States. At the same time, American is delaying delivery of the Boeing 787, a larger aircraft often used for international flights. Boeing is struggling to correct production flaws that have prevented it from delivering Dreamliners since last May.
FERTILIZER PLANT FIRE
Explosion fears persist as North Carolina fertilizer plant burns
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (AP) — An out of control fertilizer plant fire continued to burn in North Carolina. City of Winston-Salem firefighters said the potential for an explosion did not diminish early Wednesday. Thousands of evacuated residents still do not have the right to return home. Bobby Wade is a division chief for the city fire department. He said burning the fire will be a slow process. He could not say when people will be able to return home. The fire is at the Winston Weaver Company fertilizer plant, located north of the city, which has a population of around 250,000. The fire broke out on Monday evening. About 500 tons of combustible ammonium nitrate were at the plant.
STATE BUDGETS-TAX CUTS
The tax windfall is pushing states to consider a range of tax cuts
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Soaring tax revenues and billions in pandemic aid from the federal government have left many states with the unusual problem of having too much money. The result is one of the broadest movements in recent memory aimed at giving consumers and taxpayers a break. In red and blue states, lawmakers and governors are proposing to cut taxes and fees, expand tax credits, or delay tax and fee hikes that were planned before the COVID pandemic -19 does not hit. Even high-tax states controlled by Democrats are considering the possibility. Income, sales and grocery taxes are all on the chopping block, as are vehicle registration fees, gas taxes and more.
VIRUS OUTBREAK – CONTRACTORS
The pandemic creates openings for potential entrepreneurs
UNDATED (AP) — The number of Americans looking to start their own business is on the rise as the coronavirus pandemic creates opportunities for some would-be entrepreneurs. People start businesses for a variety of reasons: some lost their jobs during the pandemic and decided to make side hustle their main occupation. Others have reassessed their priorities and decided to leave the corporate world. Some have taken advantage of the flexibility of remote working and lower commercial rents. Now these new owners are also dealing with the issues that the pandemic has posed to many established businesses: changing guidance from health officials, difficulty reaching customers, problems in the supply chain and general uncertainty about the future.
New report details labor rights abuses at Expo 2020 Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A new report says the legions of workers who built and operate the sprawling Expo 2020 Dubai site face exploitation, harsh conditions and a wide range of labor abuses. The report by London-based rights consultancy Equidem released on Wednesday also says the UAE government has failed to demonstrate that its commitments to worker welfare at the multi-billion dollar Expo dollars had corrected, let alone identified, the violations. It comes after the Associated Press published an investigation based on interviews with more than two dozen Expo workers about their grievances, including payment of illegal recruiting fees, confiscation of passports by employers and inadequate food.
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