Business Highlights

Unveiling economic team, Biden pledges, ‘Help is on the way’

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has introduced top advisers he says will help his administration rebuild an economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. He declared on Tuesday, “I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.” Biden says he’s chosen a “first-rate team” that is “tested and experienced.” He picked liberal advisers who have long prioritized the nation’s workers and government efforts to address economic inequality, as unemployment remains high and as the COVID-19 outbreak widens the gulf between average people and the nation’s most well off. The virus is resurgent across the country amid holiday travel and colder weather.

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Strong start to December as S&P 500 index sets another high

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks scored more record highs on Wall Street Tuesday, a day after the S&P 500 closed out November with its biggest monthly gain since April. The benchmark index climbed 1.1% while the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 1.3%. Both beat the all-time highs they set on Friday. Stocks have been ramping higher in recent weeks as investors focus on the possibility that coronavirus vaccines could soon help usher in a fuller global economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered just below 30,000. Treasury yields rose in another sign that investors were feeling more optimistic about the economy.

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Nasdaq seeks mandatory board diversity for listed companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Nasdaq is pushing for the more than 3,000 companies listed on its U.S. stock exchange to make their boardrooms less male and white. Nasdaq filed a proposal Tuesday that would require all listed companies to publicly disclose diversity statistics about their board of directors. It also wants listed companies to have at least two diverse directors. That could include having one female board member and one who is either an underrepresented racial minority or LGBTQ. The proposal is the latest move in a widening push by shareholders and governments around the world to make corporate boards better reflect diverse populations.

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Mnuchin defends shut down of Fed emergency loan programs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is defending his decision to close down a number of emergency Federal Reserve loan programs at a time when coronavirus cases are surging. But Democrats were unconvinced with his arguments Tuesday, sayin Mnuchin’s actions are politically motivated, and take away tools the Biden administration could use to help support the economy. Mnuchin argued that the programs he decided not to extend past Dec. 31 were being lightly utilized and the more than $400 billion allocated for those Fed loan programs could be put to better use if Congress moved that money into relief programs to help small businesses and unemployed workers.

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Salesforce to buy work chat service Slack for $27.7 billion

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against one of the industry’s longtime powerhouses. The acquisition announced Tuesday is by far the largest in the 21-year history of Salesforce, a San Francisco company that was one of the first to begin selling software as a subscription service that could be used on any internet-connected device instead of the more cumbersome process of installing the programs on individual computers.

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Senate GOP leader sticking with partisan COVID relief plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell says he’s sticking with his scaled-back COVID-19 relief bill with the goal of passing a significant downpayment during the lame-duck session and then revisiting the topic next year. The Kentucky Republican made the announcement after President-elect Joe Biden called upon lawmakers to follow a similar path. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resumed talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a year-end spending package that could include COVID relief provisions. Yet it’s not clear whether the flurry of activity will lead to actual progress. Time is running out on the lame-duck session and Trump’s presidency.

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In dark day for UK retailing, 242-year-old Debenhams to shut

LONDON (AP) — The future of around 25,000 retailing jobs in Britain hangs in the balance after two long-established companies failed. Debenhams, the 242-year-old department store chain, said Tuesday that its bankruptcy administrators had decided to start winding down operations after a potential buyer company pulled out. The move looks like it will cost 12,000 jobs. The bad news comes just hours after Arcadia Group, the retail empire of billionaire Philip Green, went into administration, a type of bankruptcy protection. There are hopes that some of Arcadia’s businesses and 13,000 jobs can be saved by potential buyers.

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US construction spending jumps 1.3% in October

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. construction spending jumped 1.3% in October, again on the strength of single-family home building. The October gain follows a downward revision in September to a 0.5% decline from a previous estimate of a 0.3% gain, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. August’s number was also revised significantly upward and spending in October was stronger than economists had expected.

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The S&P 500 rose 40.82 points, or 1.1%, to 3,662.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 185.28 points, or 0.6%, to 29,823.92. The Nasdaq climbed 156.37 points, or 1.3%, to 12,355.11. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 16.23 points, or 0.9%, to 1,836.05.