ADVERTISEMENT

Business Highlights: Spending rises, jobless claims tick up

September 16, 2021 GMT

___

US unemployment claims rise after hitting pandemic low

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits moved up last week to 332,000 from a pandemic low, a sign that worsening COVID-19 infections may have slightly increased layoffs. Applications for jobless aid rose from 312,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. Jobless claims, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily for two months as many employers, struggling to fill jobs, have held onto their employees. Two weeks ago, jobless claims reached their lowest level since March 2020.

___

MassMutual fined for failing to monitor GameStop saga star

NEW YORK (AP) — Massachusetts is fining MassMutual $4 million after accusing the company of failing to supervise an employee whose online cheerleading of GameStop’s stock helped launch the frenzy that shook Wall Street earlier this year. The settlement announced Thursday by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin centers on the actions of Keith Gill, an employee at a MassMutual subsidiary from April 2019 until January 2021. Under the nickname Roaring Kitty, Gill sent numerous tweets and created hours of YouTube videos championing GameStop and backed up his support with big personal trades. Regulators say MassMutual failed to follow policies meant to flag such actions. MassMutual neither admitted nor denied the regulators’ findings.

ADVERTISEMENT

___

Drought haves, have-nots test how to share water in the West

MADRAS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon farmers who grow 60% of the world’s carrot seed have been without irrigation water for weeks as drought ravages the American West. But just down the road, sprinklers douse crops and cattle graze in green pastures. The stark contrast is a consequence of the West’s arcane water law, and it’s brought new urgency to efforts to share the resource. Proposals to create “water markets” would allow farmers with excess water to lease it to those in need. It’s part of a discussion about letting the free market play a bigger role in water conservation amid climate change. Yet larger-scale efforts to spread water more equitably have been uneven.

___

Surprise uptick in spending by Americans as delta spread

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans kept shopping last month, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases. Retail sales rose a seasonal adjusted 0.7% in August from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday. It was much better that the 0.85% decline Wall Street analysts had expected. But Thursday’s report does show a shift in how the delta variant has changed where Americans spend their time and money. Online sales soared 5.3% last month, while sales at restaurants and bars were flat from the month before.

___

Fed reviews ethics policies after prolific trading uncovered

ADVERTISEMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is reviewing the ethics policies that cover the financial holdings of its senior officials in the wake of disclosures that two regional Fed presidents engaged in extensive trading last year. Robert Kaplan, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, in 2020 traded millions of dollars of stock in companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google, while Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Fed, traded in real estate investment trusts, according to financial disclosure forms. The Fed said Thursday that late last week, Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell directed staff to take a comprehensive look at the ethics rules around permissible financial holdings and activities by senior Fed officials.

___

Ford adding 450 jobs to meet demand for new electric truck

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford plans to spend $250 million and add 450 jobs at three Michigan plants to meet demand for the new F-150 Lightning. Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of the Americas, said Ford already has taken more than 150,000 reservations for the new electric version of its immensely popular F-150 pickup truck. Galhotra made the announcement Thursday at the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in the automaker’s hometown of Dearborn, where the first pre-production trucks are being made. Ford officials hope the F-150 Lightning will be the catalyst that hastens America’s transition from gasoline to battery-powered vehicles.

___

Democrats call oil giants to testify on climate campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats are calling top executives at ExxonMobil and other oil giants to testify about what lawmakers say is a long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming. The House Oversight Committee on Thursday requested that executives at ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell testify at a hearing next month, along with leaders of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said they are “deeply concerned” that the oil industry has long reaped massive profits while contributing to climate change.

___

McConnell warns Yellen that GOP won’t help raise debt limit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is not budging on his demand that Democrats go it alone on the federal debt limit. McConnell reiterated in a call with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Wednesday evening that Republicans will not help lift the cap on federal borrowing, which now stands at $28.4 trillion. It’s all part of an emerging standoff in Congress over the issue. Democrats note that they worked with a GOP-controlled White House and Senate to suspend the borrowing limit on three occasions during President Donald Trump’s presidency. They are insisting that Republicans reciprocate and share in what can be a politically unpopular vote.

___

Small agency, big job: Biden tasks OSHA with vaccine mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t make many headlines. Charged with keeping America’s workplaces safe, it sets and enforces standards for goggles, hardhats and ladders. Now the tiny Labor Department agency has been tossed into the raging national debate over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates. President Joe Biden directed OSHA to write a rule forcing employers with at least 100 workers to require staff get vaccinated or produce weekly test results showing they are virus free. The assignment will surely test the underfunded, understaffed agency that has struggled to defend its authority in court.

___

Stocks end lower after a brief afternoon recovery fades

Stocks couldn’t hold on to a brief afternoon gain and wound up ending mostly lower. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each lost about 0.2% Thursday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to eke out a gain of 0.1%. More stocks fell than rose in the S&P 500, and most of the index’s sectors took slight losses. Industrial and health care companies did the worst, while some retailers rose after the government reported a surprise gain in retail sales last month. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.33% from 1.30% a day earlier.

___

The S&P 500 fell 6.95 points, or 0.2%, to 4,473.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 63.07 points, or 0.2%, to 34,751.32. The Nasdaq rose 20.39 points, or 0.1%, to 15,181.92. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 1.54 points, or 0.1%, to 2,232.91.

___