Stocks edge lower
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street as investors tapped the brakes after three days of gains. The S&P 500 fell 0.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq fell 0.8%. The modest pullback came after investors pushed the S&P 500 index up 3.6% over the first three days of the week, largely in response to easing worries about the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. CVS Health rose after raising its dividend and issuing a solid forecast. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell slightly to 1.50%.
US jobless claims at 52-year low amid seasonal volatility
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 52 years, more evidence that the U.S. job market is recovering from last year’s coronavirus recession. The Labor Department says unemployment claims dropped by 43,000 to 184,000 last week, the lowest since September 1969. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell below 219,000, lowest since the pandemic hit the United States hard in March 2020. Overall, just under 2 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits the week that ended Nov. 27.
Little change in rates this week
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The average interest rate on a long-term mortgage in the U.S. held firm again this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed rate home loan ticked down this week to 3.10% from 3.11% last week. A year ago, the rate stood at 2.71%. The average rate on a 15-year mortgage also dipped slightly, to 2.38% from 2.39% last week. One year ago, that rate was 2.26%. Many economists expect U.S. interest rates to rise in coming months as the Fed pivots from the easy money policies it adopted after the coronavirus outbreak ravaged the U.S. economy in the spring of 2020.
AP-NORC Poll: Income is up, but Americans focus on inflation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans’ overall income has accelerated since the pandemic, but so has inflation — and a new poll finds that far more people are noticing the higher prices than the pay gains. Two-thirds say their household costs have risen since the pandemic, compared with only about a quarter who say their incomes have increased, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Half say their incomes have stayed the same. Roughly a quarter report that their incomes have dropped. The fast-rising prices that have been surging through the economy have forced many Americans to change their spending habits.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-PFIZER BOOSTERS-TEENS
FDA expands Pfizer COVID booster, opens extra dose to age 16
UNDATED (AP) — The U.S. is expanding COVID-19 boosters, opening a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine to people as young as age 16. The U.S. and many other nations already urge adults to get a booster to pump up their immunity months after initial vaccination. In the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine is the only option for children and teenagers. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday cleared an extra dose for those ages 16 and 17, but there’s one more step. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend they get a booster. It’s not clear if younger teens will need one.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NYC VACCINE MANDATES
For NYC businesses, vaccine mandates put damper on holiday
NEW YORK (AP) — A surprise year-end decree by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordering virtually all businesses to get workers vaccinated is forcing vaccine holdouts to choose between jabs or jobs. The mandate will take effect Dec. 27, with workers needing to provide proof they received at least one dose of the vaccine. Workers at businesses from nail salons to big Wall Street firms would not be able to opt out by getting COVID-19 testing. Legal challenges are being readied. Although the mandate is set to go into effect two days after Christmas, the city hasn’t released details about how businesses will submit proof of employee compliance.
CVS HEALTH-PROVIDING CARE
CVS Health maps out path to steer into primary care delivery
UNDATED (AP) — CVS Health is launching a plan to use telemedicine, new clinics and teams of doctors, nurses and pharmacists to push deeper into managing customer health. The health care giant on Thursday outlined a future that it expects to be defined by delivering care with what it sees as a unique mix of resources. The company runs thousands of drugstores, manages prescription benefits and also sells health insurance, in addition to its care expansion. CEO Karen Lynch told analysts during a webcast of the company’s annual investor day that CVS Health is “closer to the consumer than anyone else.”
Airlines face holiday test as demand surges
UNDATED (AP) — The airline industry’s recovery is being tested this holiday season as passengers return in near pre-pandemic numbers. The resurgence in air travel is being fueled by pent-up demand and the availability of vaccines, along with an apparent lull in virus cases since summer’s big wave. The Transportation Security Administration reports that passenger checkpoints are nearly as busy now as they were before the pandemic. Airlines have been ramping up capacity to meet demand, but the industry is hampered by a lagging workforce recovery. That’s raised concerns that major airlines could be in for a rough December.
American cites Boeing delay in trimming international plans
DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines is dropping some international flights from its plans for next summer because Boeing has failed to deliver planes that the airline ordered. That’s according to a memo that went out Thursday to American Airlines employees. Boeing has been unable to deliver its 787 jetliner, which it calls the Dreamliner, for about a year because of a series of manufacturing problems. American had expected 13 more Dreamliners in its fleet by this winter. Without those planes, American will drop plan to fly from the U.S. to places in Scotland, Ireland and Hong Kong next summer and will reduce flights
GM reaches supply deals for electric vehicle motor magnets
DETROIT (AP) — General Motors has taken two more steps to make sure it has the raw materials for the transition from petroleum to battery power, this time involving magnets for electric vehicle motors. The company says it has a deal with MP Materials to supply rare earth metals and finished magnets for the motors from a new factory in Fort Worth, Texas, starting in 2023. It’s also negotiating what is likely to be a joint venture with VAC of Germany to build a U.S. factory to make electric vehicle motor magnets. The companies said production would start in 2024 and will create “hundreds of new jobs.”
NY attorney general seeks Trump’s testimony in civil probe
NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s attorney general is seeking former President Donald Trump’s testimony in an ongoing civil investigation into his business practices, according to a person familiar with the matter. Attorney General Letitia James’ office has requested that Trump sit for a deposition on Jan. 7, according to the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity. The news was first reported by The Washington Post. Trump’s representatives did not immediately response to requests for comment. James’ office declined to comment. In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried the investigation as part of a “witch hunt.”
CASINO REVENUE RECORD
2021 is now the highest-winning year ever for US casinos
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — America’s casinos have won more money this year than ever before, according to figures released Thursday from a national gambling trade association. The American Gaming Association says U.S. casinos have already broken the record for most money won in a single year at over $44 billion. Those figures are based on revenue reports through October, as well as a handful of states that have released results from November. The total surpassed the record set in all of 2019, which was $43.6 billion. Americans wagered a record $7 billion on sports in October, bringing the year-to-date total amount bet to over $42 billion.
Lee Enterprises rejects takeover bid from Alden hedge fund
UNDATED (AP) — Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises has rejected a takeover offer from the Alden Global Capital hedge fund that is one of the largest newspaper owners in the country with a reputation for intense cost cuts and layoffs. Lee said Thursday that its board unanimously rejected Alden’s offer to buy the company for $24 per share or about $141 million because it “grossly undervalues” Lee. Also Thursday, Lee reported $5.3 million fiscal fourth-quarter profit this year, rebounding from a $1.3 million loss a year ago, as the number of digital-only subscribers at the company grew 65% to 402,000.
CANADIAN PACIFIC-KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN MERGER
CP shareholders back $31B purchase of Kansas City Southern
UNDATED (AP) — Canadian Pacific’s $31 billion plan to acquire Kansas City Southern cleared one of its final hurdles Wednesday when CP shareholders overwhelmingly approved the deal that would create the first railroad connecting the United States, Canada and Mexico. The ownership of the Missouri-based railroad is expected to change next Tuesday as long as Kansas City Southern shareholders endorse the deal later this week. But Kansas City Southern won’t see any major changes immediately because it will be held by a voting trust for the next year while the U.S. Surface Transportation Board scrutinizes the deal. The review by federal regulators is expected to continue into the fourth quarter of 2022.
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