Business Highlights

Congress’ rescue aid: A dose of support, but is it enough?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress’ rescue aid package will provide urgently needed benefits to the unemployed, loans to help small businesses stay open and up to $600 in cash payments to most individuals. It will also help families facing evictions remain in their homes. The measure includes no budgetary help, though, for states and localities that are being forced to turn to layoffs and service cuts as their tax revenue dries up — a potential long-run drag on the economy. Months from now, economists say, the widespread distribution and use of vaccines could potentially unleash a robust economic recovery as the virus is quashed, businesses reopen, hiring picks up and consumers spend freely again.


Cut off: Britain hit with travel bans over new virus strain

LONDON (AP) — Trucks waiting to get out of Britain are backing up for miles and people are stranded at airports as many countries impose stringent travel restrictions over concerns about a new strain of the coronavirus that authorities say may spread more easily. A growing number of countries are halting air travel from the U.K., while France has banned trucks from the country for a period of 48 hours while the new variant is assessed. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the strain is “out of control” around London and southeastern England — but experts have urged caution, saying it’s not clear if it’s more lethal. There were rising hopes Monday that France would allow traffic to flow again, if truck drivers take coronavirus tests on arrival.


The holidays could make or break struggling stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Clothing stores and specialty retailers are offering big discounts and heavily promoting curbside pickup in hopes of rescuing a lackluster holiday shopping season. For some, it could be their last chance at survival. And even a last-minute sales boost could be too late to save them. The holiday season, which accounts for about 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales, has always been make-or-break for struggling stores. But it’s even more important this year as they look to make up for sales lost since the pandemic forced them to temporarily close locations.


High-flying Tesla stock takes a hit on 1st day in S&P 500

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla had a rough first day in the S&P 500 index with its shares tumbling 6.5% Monday. The decline muted some of its astronomical appreciation so far this year of nearly 700%. The electric vehicle maker has come a long way since the middle of last year when there were doubts about its ability to pay bills. Fans say sales and income are up, debt has been cut and CEO Elon Musk’s company is the leader in battery technology and software. But critics say there is a limited number of markets in which to sell high-priced Tesla vehicles, and if it weren’t for the sale of pollution credits the company wouldn’t make money. Tesla’s shares closed Monday at $649.86.


Stocks fall on worries about virus’ spread, but pare losses

Stocks ended lower on Wall Street as a new, potentially more infectious strain of the coronavirus has countries around the world restricting travel from the United Kingdom, raising worries that the economy is about to take even worse punishment. The S&P 500 fell 0.4% Monday, its second straight drop after setting its record on Thursday. The index pared its loss as the day progressed, recovering from an earlier 2% drop. The vast majority of stocks on Wall Street fell, but gains for Nike and Goldman Sachs helped prop up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.


Bergman succeeds Horn as Disney Studios chairman

Walt Disney Co. veteran Alan Bergman has been named chairman of Disney Studios. The company said Monday that Bergman will be succeeding Alan Horn, who will remain chief creative officer. Horn and Bergman have been operating as co-chairs since May 2019. The position involves overseeing everything from creative and operations to production and marketing for all Disney Studios content from its myriad brands, including Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Studios. The heads of each studio, from Kevin Feige to Kathleen Kennedy, will report to Horn and Bergman. Bergman has worked at Disney for 24 years.


Report: Social media manipulation affects even US senators

BRUSSELS (AP) — A vast, globalized industry of low-cost social media manipulation service providers continues to flourish, distorting both commerce and politics — including the verified social media accounts of two U.S. senators. That’s according to a new investigation by researchers from the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence. They paid just 300 euros for 337,768 fake likes, views and shares of posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, including content from the verified accounts of Senators Chuck Grassley and Chris Murphy. Both senators consented to participate in the experiment. The researchers said that while Twitter and Facebook have made some improvements, TikTok appeared defenseless.


McDonald’s sells ‘Spam burger’ with cookie crumbs in China

BEIJING (AP) — McDonald’s is selling a sandwich made of Spam topped with crushed Oreo cookies in China in an attention-grabbing move that has raised eyebrows. Global brands from restaurants to automakers sometimes roll out offbeat products to appeal to Chinese tastes in a populous but intensely competitive market. The sandwich is made of two slices of Spam, a product of Hormel Foods LLC, and Mondelez International’s Oreo cookies, topped with mayonnaise. McDonald’s Corp. said the “Lunchmeat Burger” sandwich was part of a series of “members only” promotions to be released on Mondays in China.


The S&P 500 index fell 14.49 points, or 0.4%, to 3,694.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.40 points, or 0.1%, to 30,216.45. The Nasdaq composite slipped 13.12 points, or 0.1%, to 12,742.52. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 0.34 points, or less than 0.1%, to 1,970.33.

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