Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Business Highlights

by Associated Press

US approves oil, gas leasing plan for Alaska Wildlife refuge

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Department of the Interior has approved an oil and gas leasing program within Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed the Record of Decision, which will determine where oil and gas leasing will take place in the refuge’s coastal plain. He said in a statement Monday it was a significant step in determining where and under what conditions oil and gas development will occur. Congress approved the program in 2017, and the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in December 2018 concluded drilling could be conducted within the coastal plain area without harming wildlife.


Virus pandemic reshaping air travel as carriers struggle

NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines are trying to convince a frightened public that measures like mandatory face masks and hospital-grade air filters make sitting in a plane safer than many other indoor settings during the coronavirus pandemic, but it isn’t working. Surveys indicate that instead of growing comfortable with air travel, more people are becoming skeptical about it. Over the past week, U.S. passenger traffic has been 72% lower than a year ago. Several leading carriers around the world already have filed for bankruptcy protection, and if the hoped-for recovery is delayed much longer, the list will grow unless governments kick in billions more in subsidies.


Gains for tech stocks nudge S&P 500 even closer to record

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street nudged a bit higher on Monday, and the S&P 500 teased even closer to its record high. The benchmark index rose 0.3% to 3,381.99. Earlier in the day, it briefly crossed above its record closing level of 3,386.15, which was set on Feb. 19 before the pandemic shut down businesses worldwide and created the worst recession in decades. It’s the third time in the last four trading days the index has risen above that record level, only to fade later in the day. Most other U.S. stock indexes also made gains, while Treasury yields gave up some of last week’s big rise.


Trump administration imposes new Huawei restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government is imposing another round of restrictions on tech giant Huawei as President Donald Trump renews accusations the Chinese company’s telecommunications equipment is used for spying. The Commerce Department’s new rules will further block Huawei from getting access to U.S. chip technology. A Huawei executive earlier in August said the company was already running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to U.S. sanctions and might be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips. Huawei has repeatedly denied accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying.


300 Pizza Huts, mostly dine-in locations, to close

NEW YORK (AP) — Up to 300 Pizza Hut restaurants will be closed, most of them dine-in locations not well suited for carryout and delivery at a time when millions of people are sheltering and eating at home. Pizza sales have exploded during the pandemic. Domino’s last month reported a 30% spike in quarterly profits. On Monday it said that it was hiring more than 20,000 people to handle surging orders. Franchisee NPC International said Monday in documents filed in bankruptcy court that it had come to an agreement with Pizza Hut to close hundreds of locations. The Leawood, Kansas, company filed for bankruptcy protection last month.


Japan’s economy shrinks at record rate, slammed by pandemic

TOKYO (AP) — Government data show that Japan’s economy contracted at a annual rate of 27.8% in April-June, the worst downturn on record, as the coronavirus pandemic slammed consumption and trade. The Cabinet Office reported Monday that Japan’s preliminary seasonally adjusted real GDP, the sum of a nation’s goods and services, fell 7.8% quarter on quarter. The annual rate shows what the number would have been if continued for a year. Japanese media reported the drop was the worst for the nation since World War II. The Cabinet Office said comparable records started in 1980. The previous worst contraction was in 2009, during the global financial crisis.


Black creatives in Italian fashion demand cultural reform

MILAN (AP) — The only Black designer belonging to Italy’s influential fashion council is demanding a “long overdue cultural reform’’ from her colleagues under the provocative header: Do Black Lives Matter in Italy? The conversation has gotten off to a rocky start. Stella Jean, a Haitian-Italian designer born in Rome, has launched an appeal for the Italian fashion world to back their social media pledges to support the Black Lives Matter movement with concrete, transparent commitments toward greater racial diversity. The head of the council agrees that the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked an urgency around the topic but told The Associated Press that “making deep cultural changes requires time.”


The S&P 500 rose 9.14 points, or 0.3%, to 3,381.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 86.11, or 0.3%, to 27,844.91. The Nasdaq composite rose 110.42, or 1%, to 11,129.73, and the smaller stocks in the Russell 2000 index gained 7.59, or 0.5%, to 1,585.47.

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