Business Highlights

Fed signals readiness to do more for economy as virus rages

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low near zero Thursday and signaled its readiness to do more if needed to support an economy under threat from a worsening coronavirus pandemic. The Fed announced no new actions after its latest policy meeting but left the door open to provide further assistance in the coming months. The central bank again pledged to use its “full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time.” The economy in recent weeks has weakened after mounting a tentative recovery from the deep pandemic recession in early spring.


751,000 seek US jobless benefits as virus hobbles economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 751,000, a still-historically high level that shows that many employers keep cutting jobs in the face of the accelerating pandemic. A surge in viral cases and Congress’ failure so far to provide more aid for struggling individuals and businesses are threatening to deepen Americans’ economic pain. Eight months after the pandemic flattened the economy, weekly jobless claims still point to a stream of layoffs. Before the virus struck in March, the weekly figure had remained below 300,000 for more than five straight years.


US long-term mortgage rates flat to lower; 30-year at 2.78%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates were flat to lower this week, as the key 30-year rate fell to a new all-time low for the 12th time this year. The background of economic anxiety in the recession set off by the pandemic, which has depressed home loan rates through the year, was amplified in the past week by uncertainty over the presidential election. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports the average rate on the 30-year benchmark loan declined to 2.78% from 2.81% last week. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage remained 2.32%. The ultra-low borrowing rates have bolstered demand from prospective homebuyers.


Wall Street rallies again as election-week gains continue

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rallied again on Wall Street as a post-election wave of buying continues, keeping the S&P 500 on track for its biggest weekly gain since April. Even with the presidential election not yet called, investors are banking on control of Congress remaining split between Democrats and Republicans, which could mean the continuation of low tax rates and other business-friendly policies. Tech stocks helped lead the way amid rising expectations that a split Congress would not be as aggressive about targeting Big Tech for antitrust issues. The S&P 500 rose 1.9% Thursday, bringing its gain for the week to 7.4%.


Uber’s food delivery business outshines core rides service

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber’s food delivery business brought in more money during the third quarter than its signature rides business. It was a sign of how much consumer behavior has changed, and how far the company has adapted, since the pandemic struck. The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company lost $1.09 billion in the third quarter as many customers continued to stay out of shared vehicles. Uber brought in $3.13 billion in revenue, down 18% from the same time last year. Its mobility business was down 53% from a year ago, but improved since the last quarter while its Eats business grew 125%.


AstraZeneca to deliver vaccine trial data by year’s end

LONDON (AP) — AstraZeneca hopes to show its COVID-19 vaccine is effective by the end of this year and is ramping up manufacturing so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses starting in January. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is working with the University of Oxford to develop one of the most closely watched COVID-19 vaccines, which is in late stage trials in the U.S., Britain and other countries to determine its safety and effectiveness. Once those results are reported, regulators will have to approve the vaccine for widespread use.


ESPN announces 300 layoffs, citing ‘disruption’ amid virus

NEW YORK (AP) — Sports media giant ESPN is eliminating about 500 jobs worldwide, including about 300 through layoffs. The company says the cuts, which amount to about 10% of its employees, are due in large part to the pandemic. The company says the decision was made after exhausting other measures, such as furloughs and budget cuts. In addition to the layoffs, the company is planning to leave about 200 vacant positions unfilled. ESPN says the cuts are not concentrated in any one area.


AstraZeneca to deliver vaccine trial data by year’s end

LONDON (AP) — AstraZeneca hopes to show its COVID-19 vaccine is effective by the end of this year and is ramping up manufacturing so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said Thursday. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is working with the University of Oxford to develop one of the most closely watched COVID-19 vaccines, which is in late stage trials in the U.S., Britain and other countries to determine its safety and effectiveness. Once those results are reported, regulators will have to approve the vaccine for widespread use.


The S&P 500 rose 67.01 points, or 1.9%, to 3,510.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 542.52 points, or 1.9%, to 28,390.18. The Nasdaq composite climbed 300.15 points, or 2.6%, to 11,890.93. The Russell 2000 small-cap index picked up 44.96 points, or 2.8%, to 1,660.05.