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Business Highlights

April 29, 2021 GMT

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US recovery from pandemic recession is showing momentum

WASHINGTON (AP) — Powered by consumers and fueled by government aid, the U.S. economy is achieving a remarkably fast recovery from the recession that ripped through the nation last year on the heels of the coronavirus and cost tens of millions of Americans their jobs and businesses. The economy grew last quarter at a vigorous 6.4% annual rate, the government said Thursday, and expectations are that the current quarter will be even better. The number of people seeking unemployment aid — a rough reflection of layoffs — last week reached its lowest point since the pandemic struck.

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Amazon’s profit more than triples as pandemic boom continues

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon’s pandemic boom isn’t showing signs of slowing down. The Seattle-based company said its first-quarter profit more than tripled from a year ago, fueled by the growth of online shopping. It also posted revenue of more than $100 billion, the second quarter in row that the company has passed that milestone. Amazon is one of the few retailers that has benefited during the pandemic as people turned to the online retailer to buy groceries, cleaning supplies and more. In the first three months of this year, the company reported profit of $8.1 billion, compared to $2.5 billion the year before. Earnings per share came to $15.79, about $6 more per share than what Wall Street analysts expected. Revenue jumped 44% to $108.5 billion.

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Twitter post solid Q1 results but outlook sinks stock

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Like its bigger tech peers, Twitter posted stronger-than-expected results for the first quarter on Thursday. But its lukewarm revenue outlook sent shares tumbling after hours. The San Francisco-based company earned $68 million, or 8 cents per share, in the January-March period. Twitter had 199 million daily users, on average, in the third quarter, up 20% year-over-year and slightly below the 200 million that analysts were expecting. Twitter said it expects revenue between $980 million and $1.08 billion for the second quarter. The midpoint of that is below analysts’ expectations of $1.06 billion.

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Companies sound alarm over commodity price hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — Toilet paper, baby care products, soft drinks and many other everyday products are about to get more expensive. Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark and Coca-Cola are warning that they’ll raise prices on many of their products as raw material costs rise. Commodities like plastic, paper, sugar and grains are all getting more expensive as demand outpaces supply. Companies are also paying more for shipping as fuel costs rise and ports experience longer delays because of congestion. The potential hit to consumers’ wallets comes as the economy gets closer to some semblance of normalcy.

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McDonald’s comes roaring back as restrictions ease

CHICAGO (AP) — The bounce back for McDonald’s as restrictions were lifted across the U.S. was so strong in the first quarter that the company surpassed sales during the same period even in 2019, long before the pandemic broadsided the country. McDonald’s revenue jumped 9% to $5.1 billion for the January-March period, better than most had expected. Last year at this time stores were closing globally and the world sheltered from spiking COVID-19 infections, so an improvement in sales during the same stretch this year was expected. How easily it topped 2019′s first-quarter sales of $4.95 billion, however, was not.

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Stocks end higher, pushing S&P 500 to another record high

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks overcame a midday stumble and ended broadly higher on Wall Street, pushing the S&P 500 to another record high. The benchmark index rose 0.7% Thursday. Communications companies powered a big part of the gain, led by a 7.3% leap in Facebook after the company reported big growth in digital ad revenue. Investors got several encouraging reports indicating that the economy is gaining momentum as it emerges from a recession brought on by the pandemic. The government reported that the economy grew last quarter at a vigorous 6.4% annual rate, and applications for unemployment aid fell again last week. Treasury yields were mixed.

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More Americans sign contracts to buy homes in March

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March after two months of declines, pointing to a healthy housing market as summer approaches and the economy continues what shaping up to be a rapid recovery. The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales rose 1.9% to 111.3 in March after declining 11.5% in February and 2.4% in January. Contract signings, considered a barometer of purchases that will take place in the next two months, are 23.3% ahead of where they were last year, largely due to lockdowns put in place when the pandemic hit U.S. shores in March 2020.

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US average mortgage rates rise slightly; 30-year at 2.98%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates rose slightly this week after three weeks of declines as new economic data underscores the recovering economy’s strength. The benchmark 30-year home loan, however, remains below 3%. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average 30-year rate ticked up to 2.98% from 2.97% last week. At this time last year, the long-term rate was 3.23%. The rate for a 15-year loan, popular among those seeking to refinance, rose to 2.31% from 2.29% last week.

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The S&P 500 index rose 28.29 points, or 0.7%, to 4,211.47. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 239.98 points, or 0.7%, to 34,060.36, while the Nasdaq gained 31.52 points, or 0.2%, to 14,082.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 8.70 points, or 0.4%, to 2,295.46.