Business Highlights: Pipeline shutdown, jump in job openings

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

CHAMBLEE, Ga. (AP) — More than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast reported running out of fuel, primarily because of what analysts say is unwarranted panic-buying among drivers, as the shutdown of a major pipeline by hackers entered its fifth day. Government officials acted swiftly to waive safety and environmental rules to speed the delivery of fuel by truck, ship or rail to motorists and airports. Even so, they sought to assure consumers that there was no cause for alarm. The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack on Friday.


US job openings soar to highest level on record

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers posted a record number of available jobs in March, illustrating starkly the desperation of businesses seeking to find new workers as the economy expands. Yet total job gains increased only modestly, according to a Labor Department report issued Tuesday. The figures come after the April jobs report last week that fell far short of economist expectations, largely because companies appear unable to find the workers they need, even with the unemployment rate elevated at 6.1%. Job openings rose nearly 8%, to 8.1 million in March, the most on records dating back to December 2000.


Stocks pull back on Wall Street as inflation concerns grow

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed lower on Wall Street, led by banks, industrial and health care companies. Inflation remains a growing concern among investors, which would be a major drag on the overall market if it takes hold. The S&P 500 lost 0.9% Tuesday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave back 1.4%. Tech stocks, which get most of their valuation from the future profits those companies are expected to earn, become less valuable if inflation decreases the value of those earnings. Commodity prices have been rising, particularly for industrial metals such as copper and platinum, as well as for energy commodities like gasoline and crude oil.


Top Fed official says Fed far from achieving its goals

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Federal Reserve official says the outlook for the U.S. economy is bright but the recent jobs report is a reminder that the path of the recovery is likely to be uneven and difficult to predict. Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed’s board, said Tuesday in a virtual conference sponsored by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, that employment and inflation remain far from the Fed’s goals. The Fed has said it will not start raising interest rates until it has achieved maximum employment and annual prices gains that have not only hit the Fed’s 2% target, but exceeded that target for a period of time.


Army of fake fans boosts China’s messaging on Twitter

BRUSSELS (AP) — A seven-month investigation by the Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at Oxford University, found that China’s rise on Twitter has been powered by an army of fake accounts that have retweeted Chinese diplomats and state media tens of thousands of times. The accounts covertly amplified propaganda that can reach hundreds of millions of people — often without disclosing the fact that the content is government-sponsored. The move onto Western social media comes as China wages a war for influence — both at home and abroad — on the internet, which President Xi Jinping has called “the main battlefield” for public opinion. Twitter and Facebook are blocked inside China.


Offshore wind project seen as key to clean energy gets OK

BOSTON (AP) — An offshore wind project off Massachusetts that would create 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 400,000 homes, was approved by the federal government. The Vineyard Wind project, south of Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod, would be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters. The nearly $3 billion project was approved Tuesday. It is a critical piece of the Biden administration’s plan to grow renewable energy in the U.S. Clean power advocates touted the project as a sign that Biden’s ambitious clean energy goals for the country are within reach.


Victoria’s Secret to be spun off a year after sale collapsed

NEW YORK (AP) — A year after an agreement to sell Victoria’s Secret fell apart as the pandemic emptied malls nationwide, the chain will be spun off by its owner to become a separate company. L Brands has been shopping the struggling chain elsewhere since the collapse of that deal and said it had held talks with a number of potential buyers, but it appears it could not come to an agreement on price. Victoria’s Secret was to be sold to Sycamore Partners last year but the private equity firm sued to get out of the deal citing the coronavirus pandemic. With the decision announced Tuesday, L Brands created two independent, publicly traded companies, the other being Bath & Body Works.


The S&P 500 fell 36.33 points, or 0.9%, to 4,152.10. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 473.66, or 1.4%, to 34,269.16. The Nasdaq fell 12.43 points, or 0.1%, to 13,389.43. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 5.71 points, or 0.3%, to 2,206.99.