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Business Highlights

May 3, 2021 GMT

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Democrats must find narrow path to curb high medicine prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s call for authorizing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices has energized Democrats on a politically popular idea they’ve been pushing for nearly 20 years only to encounter frustration. This year they still lack a clear path to enact legislation. That’s because a small number of Democrats remain uneasy over government price curbs on pharmaceutical companies. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will need every Democratic vote in a narrowly divided Congress. Otherwise Democrats may have to settle for a compromise that stops short of their goal.

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Denmark removes J&J from vaccination program over clot fears

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s health authorities say they have removed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot from its vaccination program to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. Denmark has already taken the AstraZeneca shot out of its vaccination program for the same reason. Both the J&J and AstraZeneca shots are made with similar technology. The Danish Health Authority said in a statement Tuesday that it “has concluded that the benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson do not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect.”

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When Buffett is gone, Abel will take over as Berkshire CEO

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Vice Chairman Greg Abel will succeed billionaire Warren Buffett as Berkshire Hathaway CEO, according to a report. Buffett confirmed the succession plan to CNBC on Monday, after Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger hinted at the news during the company’s annual meeting on Saturday. Abel currently oversees all of Berkshire’s non-insurance companies. Berkshire has long said it planned to split Buffett’s job into three parts when he is gone: CEO, investment management and a separate chairman. But in the past Buffett has refused to name the CEO candidate. The 90-year-old Buffett has said he has no plans to retire.

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Powell sees need to help most vulnerable in uneven recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the economic outlook has “clearly brightened” in the United States, but the recovery remains too uneven with lower income groups lagging behind. In a speech Monday, Powell cited a number of reasons that U.S. growth prospects have brightened including rising vaccination levels, increased government support and more business re-openings nationwide. But he added that the economic downturn has not fallen evenly on all Americans and that those least able to bear the burden have been the hardest hit. Powell said the Fed was focused on these long-standing disparities because they weigh on the country’s productive capacity.

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Apple’s ‘walled garden’ faces Epic attack in app store trial

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SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Apple’s lucrative app store was alternately portrayed as a price-gouging monopoly and a hub of world-changing innovation during the preamble to a trial that may reshape the technological landscape. The contrasting portraits were drawn on Monday as lawyers for Apple and its foe, Epic Games, outlined their cases in an Oakland, California, federal court. While Apple depicted its app store as an invaluable service beloved by consumers and developers alike, Epic Games attacked it as a breakthrough idea that has morphed into an instrument of financial exploitation that illegally locks out competition. The trial revolves around the 15% to 30% commission that Apple collects on in-app purchases

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Germany cancels Oktoberfest for 2nd year over virus fears

BERLIN (AP) — Bavarian officials have canceled Oktoberfest festivities for a second year in a row due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, saying that there are too many risks in hosting the celebrations, which traditionally bring in visitors from around the world, during a global pandemic. Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said Monday it was with “heavy hearts” that they decided to call off the festival for which the state is known globally, but that with coronavirus numbers still stubbornly high and hospitals already struggling, it had to be done. He says: “Oktoberfest will be held again, and will be big again.”

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Attention travelers! EU proposes reopening external borders

BRUSSELS (AP) — In announcement sure to be welcomed by travelers worldwide, the EU’s executive branch has proposed easing restrictions on visiting the 27-nation bloc as vaccination campaigns keep gathering speed. Travel to the EU is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low infection rates. But with the summer season tourism looming, the European Commission hopes that the new recommendations will help dramatically expand that list. EU officials believe the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns will soon be “a game changer,” especially in Europe. Its proposal will be discussed with EU ambassadors this week and EU officials hope it could start by June.

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Intel: $3.5B investment is critical to microchip future

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Intel will be investing $3.5 billion in its New Mexico plant to manufacture what executives say will fuel a new era of advanced computing as demands increase for the tiny microchips used in nearly all modern devices. Intel executives were joined Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other politicians at the plant in the Albuquerque suburb of Rio Rancho as they shared details of Intel’s global strategy. Most of the world’s chip manufacturing happens in Asia, but the company is looking to reclaim the top spot in the semiconductor sector. Expansions also are underway at the company’s sites in Arizona, Oregon, Ireland and Israel.

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Asian American business leaders seek to fight discrimination

Asian American business leaders are launching a new foundation to challenge discrimination. The Asian American Foundation, which announced its launch on Monday, said it has raised $125 million from its board members to support Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations over the next five years. The group says its the largest philanthropic commitment in history by Asian Americans geared to support members of their own community. The foundation has also raised another $125 million from individual and corporate donors. It will kick off on Tuesday by hosting a virtual event where former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama are scheduled to speak.

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A decision on suspended Trump Facebook account this week

Former President Donald Trump will find out this week whether he gets to return to Facebook. The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board says it will announce its decision Wednesday on a case concerning the former president’s account. Trump’s account was suspended for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots. After years of treating Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric with a light touch, Facebook and Instagram took the drastic step of silencing his accounts on Jan. 7, saying at the time he’d be suspended “at least” through the end of his presidency.

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Bill and Melinda Gates announce they are ending marriage

Bill and Melinda Gates say they’re divorcing. The Microsoft co-founder and his wife, who launched the world’s largest charitable foundation, said they would continue to work together at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In identical tweets, they said they had made the decision to end their marriage of 27 years. They asked for space and privacy for their family. Last year, Bill Gates said he was stepping down from Microsoft’s board to focus on philanthropy.

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The S&P 500 rose 11.49 points, or 0.3%, to 4,192.66. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 238.38, or 0.7%, to 34,113.23. The Nasdaq fell 67.56 points, or 0.5%, to 13,895.12. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 11 points, or 0.5% to 2,277.45.