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Business Highlights: Spending ramps up, Pfizer inks deal

November 16, 2021 GMT

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Defying inflation, Americans ramped up spending last month

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Americans have taken a darker view of the economy as inflation has worsened. Yet so far, they appear no less willing to spend freely at retailers, an encouraging sign for the crucial holiday shopping season. Buoyed by solid hiring, healthy job gains and substantial savings stemming in part from government stimulus checks and other relief, Americans ramped up their spending at retail stores and online shops last month. Some of the increase reflected the impact of higher prices, and there were signs that Americans have started to seek out cheaper options. Yet the gain was solid enough for most economists to envision holiday shopping to jump by a record amount this year.

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Biden touts infrastructure bill at snowy, rusty bridge in NH

WOODSTOCK, N.H. (AP) — Fighting sagging poll ratings, President Joe Biden has set out on a national tour to persuade everyday Americans of the benefits of his big, just-signed infrastructure plan. First stop: a snowy, rusted bridge in New Hampshire, a state that gave him no love in last year’s presidential primaries. He returned on Tuesday as president, eager to talk up the infrastructure deal and what all that money can do for Americans. Biden is down in the polls and he hopes to use the successful deal to shift the political winds in his direction. The president signed the infrastructure bill into law on Monday at a splashy bipartisan ceremony on the White House lawn.

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Ping-pong ball bounce could determine vaccine mandate’s fate

The fate of President Joe Biden’s mandate that larger employers require workers to be vaccinated could come down to the bounce of a ping-pong ball. The rule is being challenged in federal courts by Republican-led states, businesses and conservative groups who say it’s not the role of the federal government to decide on workplace vaccines. Unions are also going to court to say the rule doesn’t go far enough. The challenges are expected to be combined as soon as Tuesday into one federal circuit court. The divisions between the courts in play are stark based on whether a majority of judges were nominated by Republican or Democratic presidents. A lottery will decide which one handles the case.

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Pfizer agrees to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill

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LONDON (AP) — Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. has signed a deal with a U.N.-backed group to allow other manufacturers to make its experimental COVID-19 pill. The move could help make the treatment available to more than half of the world’s population. In a statement on Tuesday, Pfizer said it would grant a license for the antiviral pill to the Medicines Patent Pool. The agreement lets generic drug companies make the pill for use in 95 countries. The deal excludes some large countries with manufacturing capacity. But health officials say the fact that the deal was struck before Pfizer’s pill has been authorized anywhere could help end the pandemic more quickly.

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Twitter rolls out redesigned misinformation warning labels

Twitter users will soon see new warning labels on false and misleading tweets, redesigned to make them more effective and less confusing. The labels, which the company has been testing since July, are an update from those Twitter used for election misinformation before and after the 2020 presidential contest. Those labels drew criticism for not doing enough to keep people from spreading obvious falsehoods. The redesign launching worldwide on Tuesday is an attempt to make them more useful and easier to notice, among other things.

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Opioid trial against CVS, Walgreens, Walmart winding down

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cities and counties in the U.S. that want to hold pharmacies accountable for the opioid crisis are closely watching a federal trial that’s coming to a close. Two counties in Ohio have sued CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. The counties say the companies failed to follow government guidelines to make sure pain pills weren’t flooding into their communities. But attorneys for the companies said Monday during the trial’s closing arguments that the counties failed to show they had a substantial role in the crisis. The pharmacies also say they had safeguards in place and that many others are to blame for the crisis.

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Pfizer asks US officials to OK promising COVID-19 pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer is seeking U.S. authorization of its experimental COVID-19 treatment pill. The filing Tuesday sets the stage for a likely launch of a promising treatment that can be taken at home. Pfizer’s pill has been shown to significantly cut the rate of hospitalizations and deaths among people with coronavirus infections. The Food and Drug Administration will scrutinize company data on the safety and effectiveness of the pill before making a decision. The FDA is already reviewing a competing drug from Merck. Several smaller drugmakers are also expected to seek authorization for their own antiviral pills in coming months.

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‘We don’t deserve this’: Inflation hits Turkish people hard

ISTANBUL (AP) — Many people in Turkey are facing increased hardship as prices of food and other goods have soared. While rising consumer prices are affecting countries worldwide as they bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, economists say Turkey’s eye-popping inflation has been exacerbated by economic mismanagement, concerns over the country’s financial reserves and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to cut interest rates. The Turkish lira has been tumbling to record lows against the U.S. dollar as the country’s central bank has slashed interest rates, fueling concerns about its independence. The government says inflation rose nearly 20% in October compared with a year earlier, but an independent group of academics and former government officials, put it close to a stunning 50%.

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Strong sales, profit for Walmart on cusp of holiday season

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart raised its outlook for the year after another surprisingly strong quarter as the largest retailer in the world flexed its scale to deal with rising costs and a snarled global supply chain. Walmart rerouted goods to less congested ports, even chartered its own vessels, and said Tuesday that its inventory levels actually rose 11.5% from the same period last year. It boosted market share gains as a result, particularly with groceries, as it drew in more Americans stung by prices that are rising everywhere. Food sales rose nearly 10% during the quarter.

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Scion of Polish nobility jailed in property restitution case

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Warsaw court has confirmed the arrest order for a Polish businessman who is a descendent of one of Poland’s aristocratic families. The case highlights problems still resulting from the communist regime’s seizure of private property after World War II. Michal Sobanski, a 46-year-old businessman, has been held in isolation in a prison in the western Polish city of Wroclaw since June. The Appeals Court in Warsaw rejected his lawyers’ appeal against the temporary arrest, which means Sobanski must remain jailed until Dec. 20. The prosecutors argue only isolation can guarantee there will be no influencing of witnesses. Poland is the only country in Central Europe that has no legislation to regulate the return of seized property to pre-World War II owners or their inheritors.

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The S&P 500 rose 18.10 points, or 0.4%, to 4,700.90. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 54.77 points, or 0.2%, to 36,142.22. The Nasdaq rose 120.01 points, or 0.8%, to 15,973.86. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 4.09 points, or 0.2%, to 2,405.02.

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