Business Highlights: GOP on inflation, slump on Wall Street

Republicans point to inflation in bid to retake Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gas prices have soared passed $3 per gallon. The costs of used cars and new furniture, airline tickets, department store blouses, beef and a burrito at Chipotle are all on the rise, too. Economists say the price increases are fueled by the aftereffects of a global pandemic and probably won’t last. But Republicans are hoping to storm into next year’s midterm elections arguing that key parts of the economy have deteriorated under President Joe Biden and a Democratic-controlled Congress. They say steep government spending has triggered inflation and that’s hurt the purchasing power of everyday Americans rather than triggering a promised boom.

US stocks slump; S&P 500 has its worst week since February

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street Friday, sending the S&P 500 to its worst weekly loss since February. The index fell 1.3% and gave back 1.9% over the course of the week. Banks and other stocks that soared earlier this year on expectations for the economy and inflation were among the biggest losers. Investors are still recalibrating their moves after the Federal Reserve’s signal this week that it may raise rates sooner than expected. Short-term Treasury yields continued to spurt higher, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst weekly loss since last October.

Las Vegas pushes land swap to balance growth, conservation

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Cities in the U.S. West are preparing for considerable growth in the coming decades despite a historic drought and shrinking water supplies. From Phoenix to Boise, officials are working to ensure they have the resources, infrastructure and housing supply to meet growth projections while balancing conservation. Their efforts are constrained by the fact that some cities are surrounded by federal land. U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada wants to remedy the issue around Las Vegas by strengthening protections for some public lands while selling others to commercial and residential developers. Opponents argue that approving these kinds of “swaps” isn’t sustainable, particularly in areas that rely on a shrinking water supply.

Boeing’s newest version of the 737 Max makes first flight

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing’s newest version of the 737 Max jetliner has taken flight. A Boeing 737 Max 10 completed a test flight of about 2 1/2 hours on Friday over Washington state. The Max 10 can hold up to 230 passengers. It’s a slightly bigger version of Boeing planes that are already flying. Airlines began using those earlier Max jets in 2017, but they were grounded worldwide for nearly two years after two crashes that killed 346 people. The new model is designed to compete against a similarly sized plane from Europe’s Airbus.

AstraZeneca, EU both claim a win in vaccine delivery tussle

BRUSSELS (AP) — AstraZeneca and the European Union have both claimed victory in a court tussle over allegations that the coronavirus vaccine-maker was not producing shots for the 27-nation bloc fast enough. The court found Friday that AstraZeneca had breached its contract with the European Commission. It ordered the company to deliver a cumulative total of 80.2 million doses by Sept. 27. The company says that’s far fewer than the 120 million shots the Commission was seeking by the end of June. AstraZeneca was seen as a key pillar of the EU vaccine rollout. Its contract with the Commission foresaw an initial 300 million doses being distributed. The Commission was satisfied that the judge ordered a strict vaccine delivery schedule.

Mexican elderly lose work as grocery baggers, protest

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic and changing consumer habits threaten to put an end to a decades-old practice of allowing elderly people in Mexico to earn extra income as grocery store baggers. Baggers over 60 had expected to return to stores last month as pandemic restrictions eased in Mexico City. But Walmart de Mexico, the country’s biggest retailer, announced this week that they wouldn’t be allowed back. The retail chain said customers no longer wanted other people touching their groceries. The non-contractual baggers used to get tips, but not wages. Many have held protests outside stores, saying the bagging work helped them psychologically and financially.

UK retail sales dip as lockdown easing allows socializing

LONDON (AP) — Retail sales in Britain slipped back in May as people ventured out to spend money at restaurants and pubs instead. The Office of National Statistics said Friday that retail sales during May were 1.4% lower than the previous month, when they surged 9.2% after shops selling nonessential items were allowed to reopen in April after a months-long shutdown. The office says biggest downward contribution to the May figures came from food sales, which fell by 5.7% as restrictions were eased to allow pubs and restaurants to serve customers indoors. Analysts said the decline doesn’t represent the start of a slowdown in Britain’s from its biggest economic contraction in more than 300 years.

Germany’s Lufthansa aims to pay back government aid quickly

BERLIN (AP) — Lufthansa’s chief executive says the company aims to pay back billions of euros in aid provided to help the airline through the coronavirus pandemic before Germany’s federal election in late September. Germany’s biggest airline received a 9 billion-euro ($10.8 billion) government rescue package about a year ago. The German government take a 20% stake in the company, which also owns carriers Austrian Airlines and Swiss. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Friday that Lufthansa was one of the first companies to be rescued by the government and also wants to be one of the first to pay the money back.

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