Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Business Highlights

by Associated Press

A new $300 federal jobless benefit? Not likely for some

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Trump administration rolled out a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit after Congress failed to agree to extend a $600 payment. Yet because of a raft of restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles, more than 1 million unemployed won’t receive that $300 check, and their financial struggles will deepen. Many were low-paid workers whose unemployment aid falls below the $100 weekly threshold. That stands to widen the inequalities that disproportionately hurt Black and Latino workers, who are more likely to work in low-wage jobs. Gig and contract workers won’t qualify, either. And the program requires the unemployed to certify that their job loss stemmed from the coronavirus — a provision that could trip up many.

Facebook curbs political ads – for 7 days before US election

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — With just two months until the U.S. election, Facebook says it is taking additional steps to encourage voting, minimize misinformation and reduce the likelihood of post-election “civil unrest.” The company says it will restrict new political ads in the week before the election and remove posts that convey misinformation about COVID-19 and voting. It will also attach links to official results to posts from candidates and campaigns declaring a premature victory. Facebook and other social media companies are being scrutinized over how they handle misinformation, given problems with candidates like President Donald Trump posting false information and Russia’s interference in the 2016 White House elections.

Jobless claims fall to 881,000 but layoffs remain elevated

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of laid-off Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a still-elevated 881,000 last week, evidence that the viral pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs. The latest figures suggest that nearly six months after the eruption of the coronavirus, the economy is still struggling to sustain a recovery and rebuild a job market that was devastated by the recession. In the previous week, more than 1 million had sought jobless aid. All told, the government said that 13.3 million people are continuing to receive traditional jobless benefits, up from 1.7 million a year ago.

US trade deficit surges in July to highest in 12 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit surged in July to $63.6 billion, the highest level in 12 years, as imports jumped by a record amount. The Commerce Department reported that the July deficit, the gap between what America buys and what it sells to foreigners, was 18.9% higher than June deficit. The increase was driven by a record 10.9% increase in imports. Exports were also up by a smaller 8.1%.

Services sector growth slows in August but still positive

WASHINGTON (AP) — Growth in the U.S. services sector, where most Americans work, slowed in August after a big rebound in July, indicating lingering problems stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The Institute for Supply Management reported Thursday that its index of activity in the services activity showed a reading of 56.9% in August, down 1.2 percentage-points from the July reading of 58.1. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the services sector.

Jeep reveals hybrid Wrangler, 1st US battery-powered vehicle

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand is going electric. The company has unveiled a plug-in Wrangler SUV, the first of what it says will be many Jeeps in the U.S. powered by batteries. A big reason for the new offerings is FCA’s obligation to meet fuel economy and pollution regulations in Europe, China, and the U.S. or face stiff fines or steep costs to buy electric vehicle credits from companies like Tesla. But FCA executives say there’s also a market for an electric-powered Jeep. The Wrangler 4xe can go 25 miles on battery power before a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine takes over. Fiat Chrysler says in a few years all Jeep models will have battery options.

Apple delays debut of anti-tracking tool in iPhone software

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Apple is delaying a new privacy feature in the next version of its iPhone operating system that will make it more difficult for app developers to track people online to help sell ads. The decision outlined Thursday affects iOS 14, which is expected to be released to roughly a billion iPhone users later this month. Apple intended iOS 14 to automatically block tracking as soon as the software came out, but is now postponing the feature until early next year.

The S&P 500 index lost 125.78 points, or 3.5%, to close as 3,455.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 807.77 points, or 2.8%, to 28,292.73. The Nasdaq dropped 598.34 points, or 5%, to 11,458.10. The Russell 2000 of smaller-company stocks fell 47.61, or 3%, to 1,544.68.

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