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Business Highlights

April 1, 2021 GMT

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Anticipation is building for a boom in US hiring this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — With hopes rising for a powerful rebound in hiring this year, Friday’s jobs report for March will provide crucial insight into whether those rosy expectations may prove true. The most optimistic economists are predicting that the government will report that as many as 1 million jobs were added in March — a blistering gain that would help recover a decent chunk of the 9.5 million jobs that remain lost to the pandemic. Still, overall, economists surveyed by data provider FactSet have forecast an increase of 615,000. After a year of epic job losses, waves of coronavirus infections, and small business closures, numerous trends are brightening the outlook.

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AP-NORC poll: US economic outlook rises after relief law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Views of the nation’s economy are now the rosiest they’ve been since the pandemic began more than a year ago, buoyed by Democrats who are feeling increasingly optimistic as President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package is distributed across the country. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs finds that 46% of Americans overall now view the economy as good, up from the 37% who felt that way last month. Views of the economy had tanked at the onset of the pandemic in April last year, when 29% said it was in good shape. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats now describe economic conditions as good, compared with 35% of Republicans.

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US jobless claims rise to 719K as virus still forces layoffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose by 61,000 last week to 719,000, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs even as more businesses reopen, vaccines are increasingly administered and federal aid spreads through the economy. The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of claims increased from 684,000 the week before. Though the pace of applications has dropped sharply since early this year, they remain high by historical standards: Before the pandemic flattened the economy a year ago, jobless claims typically ran below 220,000 a week.

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EXPLAINER: Starving for more chips in a tech-hungry world

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — As the U.S. economy awakens from its pandemic-induced slumber, a vital cog is in short supply: the computer chips that power our phones and wireless networks, cars and other vehicles, and a vast number of other items we take for granted. The shortage has already created delays for people who want to buy laptops, the iPhone 12 and the latest video game consoles. Things are still getting worse, particularly in the auto industry, which has been closing down factories and stockpiling nearly completed vehicles in lots while they await the chips that they need to roll them into showrooms.

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OPEC and allies agree to gradually boost crude oil output

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The OPEC oil cartel and allied countries say they have decided to gradually add back some 2 million barrels per barrel per day of oil production from May to July. They’re moving cautiously in pace with the recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is gingerly adding back production that was slashed last year to support prices as demand sagged during the worst of the pandemic recession, which sapped demand for fuel. The group will add back 350,000 barrels per day in May, 350,000 in June, and 400,000 in July. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia will restore an additional 1 million barrels per day that it made on its own.

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Wall Street closes higher, pushing S&P 500 past 4,000 points

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing broadly higher on Wall Street, pushing the S&P 500 past 4,000 points for the first time. Big Tech companies like Microsoft led the gains. The benchmark index climbed 1.2%. Smaller companies continued to outpace the S&P 500. The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 1.8%. Companies that would benefit from greater sales of electric vehicles rose after President Joe Biden outlined various measures to support their use as part of his massive infrastructure plan. Stock trading will be closed for Good Friday but bond trading will be open for half a day, closing at noon Eastern Time.

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Justices uphold FCC’s easing of local media ownership limits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has unanimously upheld federal regulators’ decision to ease ownership limits on local media, rejecting a claim that the change would hurt minority and female ownership. The court ruled Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission acted reasonably in 2017 when it modified rules that predated the internet. The old rules prohibited a single entity from owning a radio or TV station and a daily newspaper in the same media market. They also limited how many radio and TV stations one company could own in a single market and restricted the number of TV stations a company could operate in one media market.

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The S&P 500 rose 46.98, or 1.2%, to 4,019.87. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 171.66 points, or 0.5%, to 33,153.21. The Nasdaq climbed 233.23 points, or 1.8%, to 13,480.11. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 33.38 points, or 1.5%, to 2,253.90.