Trump reluctantly signs COVID aid, sparks fresh fight in GOP
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dropping his objections, President Donald Trump has signed a $2 trillion-plus COVID-19 and annual federal spending package into law. But Congress returns Monday to confront the White House on remaining priorities in a rare end-of-session showdown. The House is to vote on the president’s demands for larger $2,000 pandemic relief checks. That initiative is expected to die in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Trump’s push for bigger checks served up a political opportunity for Democrats to force Republicans who oppose more spending into a tough spot. Trump reluctantly signed the massive package Sunday in Florida, during a holiday break marked by trips to the golf course.
Trump’s hesitation on relief bill will delay aid payments
WASHINGTON (AP) — The $900 billion economic relief package that President Donald Trump signed over the weekend will deliver vital aid to millions of struggling households and businesses. Yet his nearly one-week delay in signing the bill means that it will take that much longer for the financial support to arrive. The package that Trump signed at his private club in Florida on Sunday will extend two unemployment benefit programs, which are providing aid to 14 million people and which expired last week, as well as provide small business loans and up to $600 in cash payments to most individuals. It will also extend a moratorium on evictions for one month. The measure does not include aid for states and localities that are being forced to turn to layoffs and service cuts as their tax revenue dries up.
From Zoom to Quibi, the tech winners and losers of 2020
We streamed, we Zoomed, we ordered groceries and houseplants online, we created virtual villages while navigating laptop shortages to work and learn from home. When it comes to technology, 2020 was a year like no other. But for all the winners — like Zoom, e-commerce and video games, there were plenty of losers too. Virtual reality sounded like a good escape but it never took off. Quibi fizzled and Uber and Lyft saw their ridership plummet. As for Big Tech? Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google did well financially. But regulators are breathing down their neck and that’s unlikely to ease up next year.
UK warns of ‘bumpy’ post-Brexit transition despite deal
LONDON (AP) — European Union nations have unanimously approved the post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom, a prerequisite for the agreement to take effect on New Year’s Day. Germany, which holds the EU presidency, said the decision came Monday during a meeting of EU ambassadors. The OK had been expected ever since the deal was announced and all EU leaders warmly welcomed it. It still needs approval from the EU’s legislature, which is expected in February. The U.K’s House of Commons is expected to approve it on Wednesday. But a top British official said there will still be ‘bumpy moments’ for businesses ahead despite the deal.
Highlights of COVID-19, government funding law taking effect
The massive bill that President Donald Trump has signed into law combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $1.4 trillion spending bill and reams of other unfinished legislation on taxes, energy, education and health care. In one highlight, the package revives supplemental federal pandemic unemployment benefits but at $300 per week — through March 14 — instead of the $600 per week benefit that expired in July. It also provides $600 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to couples making up to $150,000, with $600 additional payments per dependent child.
US stocks higher after Trump signs $900B aid package
Stocks were moderately higher Monday as Wall Street entered the final week of 2020. President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion economic aid package that helps reduce uncertainty as governments re-impose travel and business curbs in response to a new coronavirus variant. The measure also includes money for other government functions through September, but Trump expressed frustration that payments to the public weren’t bigger. New travel and business curbs threaten to weigh on global economic activity. Companies that were hit the hardest by the pandemic — restaurants, airlines, the cruise industry — were among the biggest gainers in early trading.
Chinese regulators order Ant Group to rectify its businesses
HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese regulators have ordered Ant Group to rectify its businesses and comply with regulatory requirements amid increased scrutiny of anti-monopoly practices in the country’s internet sector. The regulators said the world’s largest financial technology company used its market position to exclude rivals and hurt the rights and interests of consumers. They said China’s central bank summoned Ant executives Saturday and ordered them to form a rectification plan and a timetable to implement it for the company’s credit, insurance and wealth management services. The regulators said that Ant Group lacked a sound governance mechanism, defied regulatory compliance requirements and engaged in regulatory arbitrage.
The Latest: Kansas governor to get COVID-19 shot this week
Gov. Laura Kelly plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday as part of a larger plan to give shots to selected Kansas officials so that state government can continue to operate during the pandemic. The Democratic governor confirmed her plans Monday during an impromptu interview at the Statehouse. She told The Associated Press last week that the state was looking at giving shots to people in state agencies, the Republican-controlled Legislature and the state court system. The state so far has concentrated on vaccinating health care workers. Kelly said she would get the first of two vaccine shots during a news conference.
Shanghai police say suspect detained in games tycoon’s death
BEIJING (AP) — Police in Shanghai say a suspect has been detained in the death by possible poisoning of the billionaire founder of a Chinese video game company that is producing films based on popular science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem.” Yoozoo Games said Lin Qi, 39, died on Christmas Day after being hospitalized. A police statement said a 39-year-old coworker was detained. The statement said the victim was hospitalized Dec. 17 and diagnosed with possible poisoning but gave no other details. Yoozoo also is know for its game “Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming,” based on the popular TV series.
Gibraltar’s border with Spain still in doubt after Brexit
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — While corks may have popped in London and Brussels over the end to the Brexit negotiations, there is one rocky speck of British soil still left in limbo. Gibraltar, a British colony jutting off Spain’s southern tip, was not included in the Brexit trade deal announced on Christmas Eve between the European Union and the United Kingdom to reorganize the commercial and trade relations between the now 27-member bloc and the first nation to exit the group. The deadline for Gibraltar remains Jan. 1, when a transitionary period regulating the short frontier between Gibraltar and Spain expires. If no deal is reached, there are serious concerns that a hard border would cause major disruptions for workers, tourists and business connections across the two sides.
The S&P 500 rose 32.30 points, or 0.9%, to 3,735.36. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 204.10 points, or 0.7%, to 30,403.97. The Nasdaq composite added 94.69 points, or 0.7%, to 12,899.42. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.7 points, or 0.4%, to 1,996.25.