Business Highlights

US jobless claims drop to 787,000, but layoffs remain high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 787,000, a sign that job losses may have eased slightly but are still running at historically high levels. With confirmed infections having neared 60,000 in the past week, the highest level since July, many consumers have been unable or reluctant to shop, travel, dine out or congregate in crowds — a trend that has led some employers to keep cutting jobs. Several states, such as Ohio and Idaho, are reporting a record number of hospitalizations from the virus.


Goldman Sachs subsidiary pleads to US charges in 1MDB probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — A subsidiary of Goldman Sachs pleaded guilty on Thursday and agreed to pay more than $2.9 billion in a foreign corruption probe tied to the Malaysian 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, which was looted of billions of dollars in a corruption scandal. In addition, several current and former top executives at Goldman will have to return millions of dollars in pay and bonuses to the company, a financial penalty for those in charge when the scandal unfolded. Goldman Sachs Malaysia entered the plea in federal court in Brooklyn. As part of its plea, the company admitted that it “knowingly and willfully” conspired to violate U.S. anti-bribery laws.


Facebook, Twitter CEOs ordered to testify by GOP senators

WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP push against Facebook and Twitter has accelerated after Republican senators threatened the CEOs of the social media companies with subpoenas to force them to address accusations of censorship in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign. With Democrats boycotting the hearing, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to authorize the legal orders if Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey don’t agree to testify voluntarily. The committee wants to hear from the executives about what the subpoena document says is “the suppression and/or censorship” of recent New York Post articles about Democratic president nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Facebook declined comment and there’s no immediate comment from Twitter.


US airlines still piling up losses but say demand is rising

DALLAS (AP) — The losses are building at U.S. airlines as the coronavirus pandemic cuts into air travel. American Airlines said Thursday that it lost $2.40 billion in the third quarter, and Southwest Airlines reported a loss of $1.16 billion. Those losses came in the July-through-September quarter that is normally a strong one for airlines, taking in most of the peak summer vacation season. But most travelers were grounded this summer by fear and travel restrictions intended to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.


Santa Claus won’t be coming to Macy’s this year

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s said Santa Claus won’t be greeting kids at its flagship New York store this year due to the coronavirus, interrupting a holiday tradition started nearly 160 years ago. More than a quarter of a million people come to see Santa at Macy’s in New York each year, the company said. That makes it hard to create a safe environment during a pandemic. Santa also won’t be making in-person visits this year at its Chicago and San Francisco stores, which have similar Santalands.


Gap Inc. exiting malls, to shutter 350 stores by 2024

NEW YORK (AP) — Gap Inc. is moving away from the nation’s malls. The San Francisco-based brand was for decades a fixture at shopping malls around the country. Now it says it’s closing 220 stores by early 2024. The parent company is also shuttering 130 Banana Republic stores. The moves announced Thursday are part of a three-year plan that will see Gap focus on outlets and its e-commerce business. Gap joins other clothing retailers in trying to reinvent themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak forced many non-essential stores to temporarily close in the spring and early summer.


US long-term mortgage rates hit new low; 30-year at 2.80%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates slipped this week as the key 30-year loan marked a new all-time low for the 11th time this year. Home loan rates have notched a year-long decline amid economic anxiety in the recession set off by the coronavirus pandemic. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average rate on the 30-year benchmark loan edged down to 2.80% from 2.81% last week. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 2.33% from 2.35%. The low borrowing rates have bolstered demand from prospective homebuyers.


Stocks shake off a wobbly start to end higher on Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off a wobbly start and ended higher on Wall Street. The S&P 500 climbed 0.5% Thursday. Several earnings reports from big U.S. companies came in better than analysts had expected, which helped put investors in a buying mood. Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said progress was being made on talks to deliver more stimulus to the economy. The back-and-forth moves were typical of the market’s recent meandering trading in recent weeks as investors try to gauge the chances of whether Washington will reach a deal on more economic aid. Treasury yields and oil prices ended higher.


The S&P 500 rose 17.93 points, or 0.5%, to 3,453.49. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 152.84 points, or 0.5%, to 28,363.66. The Nasdaq composite added 21.31 points, or 0.2%, to 11,506.01. The Russell 2000 small-cap index climbed 26.48 points, or 1.7%, to 1,630.25.