Business Highlights

AP source: Biden taps ex-Fed chair Yellen to lead treasury

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary, a pivotal role in which she would help shape and direct his economic policies. Her nomination was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with Biden’s plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them. Yellen, who is widely admired in the financial world, would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in a line stretching back to Alexander Hamilton in 1789. The 74-year-old Yellen was also the first woman to serve as Fed chair. She later became an adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign.


GM to recall 7M vehicles globally to replace Takata air bags

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors will recall about 7 million big pickup trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The move came Monday after the U.S. government told the automaker it had to recall 6 million of the vehicles in the U.S. GM says it will not fight the recall, which will cost $1.2 billion. The company had petitioned the agency four times starting in 2016 to avoid a recall, contending the inflators are safe. Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to fill air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate and blow apart a metal canister, spewing shrapnel. Twenty-seven people have been killed worldwide by the exploding inflators.


Google faces UK scrutiny over new advertising data revamp

LONDON (AP) — Google faces fresh regulatory scrutiny in Britain over plans to revamp its ad data system, after an industry lobbying group complained to the competition watchdog that the changes would cement the U.S. tech giant’s online dominance. Marketers for an Open Web, a coalition of technology and publishing companies, said Monday that it’s urging the U.K. competition watchdog to step in and force Google to delay the rollout of its “privacy sandbox” scheduled for early next year. The new technology would remove so-called third party cookies that allow users to be tracked across the internet by storing information on their devices, replaced by tools owned by Google. That means login, advertising and other features would be taken off the open web and placed under Google’s control, the group said.


Employers start sending workers shopping for health coverage

NEW YORK (AP) — Some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees. They’re sending workers to individual insurance markets to find coverage and then reimbursing them at least partially for the cost. This new approach can give employees more choices while protecting companies from huge cost spikes. But it’s also a big change for workers who may be used to having their employer lay out their benefit choices every year. A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse their workers for individual coverage without paying a tax penalty.


Retail trade group sees solid holiday sales despite pandemic

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Retail Federation expects that holiday sales could actually exceed growth of prior seasons despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. The nation’s largest retail trade group predicts that sales for the November and December period will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. That excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. It compares with 4% growth to $729.1 billion last year. Holiday sales have averaged gains of 3.5% over the past five years. The NRF delayed the release of its forecast by about a month, citing the uncertainty around the pandemic. Still, it warns any further shutdowns of stores as virus cases surge would derail sales.


GM flips to California’s side in pollution fight with Trump

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is switching sides in the legal fight against California’s right to set its own clean-air standards, abandoning the Trump administration as the president’s term nears its close. EO Mary Barra said in a letter Monday to environmental groups that GM will no longer support the Trump administration in its defense against a lawsuit over its efforts against California’s standards. And GM is urging other automakers to do the same. The move is a sign that GM and other automakers are anticipating big changes when President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. Already at least one other large automaker, Toyota, said it may join GM in switching to California’s team.


Pandemic has taken a bite out of seafood trade, consumption

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has hurt the U.S. seafood industry due to a precipitous fall in imports and exports and a drop in catch of some species. Those are the findings of a group of scientists who sought to quantify the damage of the pandemic on America’s seafood business. The group also found that the industry suffered in part because of its reliance on restaurant sales. They found that consumer demand for seafood at restaurants dropped by more than 70% during the early months of the pandemic. The scientists published their findings recently in the scientific journal Fish and Fisheries.


The S&P 500 rose 20.05 points, or 0.6%, to 3,577.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 327.79 points, or 1.1%, to 29,591.27. The Nasdaq composite added 25.66 points, or 0.2%, to 11,880.63. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks gained 32.96 points, or 1.8%, to 1,818.30.