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Business Highlights: Flat retail sales, password edicts

May 14, 2021 GMT

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Retail sales were flat in April as stimulus spending waned

NEW YORK (AP) — Retail sales in the U.S. were flat in April, after soaring in March, when many Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks that boosted spending. The report from the U.S. Commerce Department was worse than the 0.8% growth Wall Street analysts had expected. Americans started receiving a third round of stimulus checks in March, helping retail sales soar 10.7% that month. Friday’s report comes amid other signs the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate and business restrictions are relaxed. Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of all economic activity in the U.S., is closely monitored by economists to gauge the nation’s economic health. Friday’s report covers a third of all consumer spending, but doesn’t include services, like hotel stays or haircuts.

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Passing on your password? Streaming services are past it

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NEW YORK (AP) — Many of us were taught to share as kids. Now streaming services ranging from Netflix to Disney+ want us to stop. That’s the new edict from the giants of streaming media, who hope to discourage the common practice of sharing account passwords without alienating their subscribers, who’ve grown accustomed to the hack.. Password sharing is estimated to cost streaming services several billion dollars a year in lost revenue. That’s a small problem now for an industry that earns about $120 billion annually, but something it needs to address as spending on distinctive new programing skyrockets.

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Gas crunch from cyberattack intensifies in nation’s capital

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gas shortages have spread from the South, almost exhausting supplies in Washington, D.C. The runs on gasoline follow a ransomware cyberattack that forced a shutdown of the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline. Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline reported making “substantial progress” in getting the pipeline back in full service. Meanwhile two sources tell The Associated Press that Colonial paid the criminals about $5 million in cryptocurrency for a software decryption key to unscramble their network. President Joe Biden said he had no comment on the ransom, but he said his administration would disrupt the hackers and a new task force would prosecute them.

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Stocks close higher with help from tech, still down for week

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher for the second day in a row but still ended with a weekly loss after three sizable drops earlier in the week. The S&P 500 added 1.5% Friday, but still lost 1.4% for the week. Another bounce back in tech shares pushed the Nasdaq 2.3% higher. Disney fell 2.6% after reporting lower revenue and missing forecasts for growth in subscriber additions to its video streaming service. Retailers, banks, communication companies and industrial stocks also helped lift the market. Energy stocks also rose as the price of U.S. crude oil climbed 2.4%. Treasury yields mostly fell.

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Delta will require new hires to be vaccinated against virus

ATLANTA (AP) — If you want to work at Delta Air Lines, you’ll need to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The airline says that vaccination will be required for new hires starting on Monday. But the airline isn’t imposing the same requirement on current employees. American, United, Southwest and Alaska airlines have no plans to make vaccines mandatory. A Delta spokesman said Friday that more than 60% of Delta’s current 74,000 workers are vaccinated. The airline says the new policy is designed to protect other employees and passengers as travel recovers from last year’s lows during the worst of the pandemic.

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Officials: Tesla in fatal California crash was on Autopilot

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Tesla involved in a fatal crash on a Southern California freeway last week was operating on Autopilot at the time, authorities said. The May 5 crash in Fontana, a city 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, is under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The probe is the 29th case involving a Tesla that the agency has responded to. A 35-year-old man was killed when his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi on a freeway at about 2:30 a.m. The driver’s name has not yet been made public. Another man was seriously injured when the electric vehicle hit him as he was helping the semi’s driver out of the wreck.

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ViacomCBS says ex-CBS CEO Moonves won’t get $120M severance

NEW YORK (AP) — ViacomCBS says former CBS CEO Les Moonves won’t get his $120 million severance package from his firing in 2018, ending a long-running dispute over the money. Moonves was ousted in 2018 after a company investigation into allegations against of sexual misconduct spanning three decades found Moonves violated company policy and did not cooperate with the investigation. Moonves challenged the decision and his $120 million severance was set aside until the matter could be resolved. On Friday, CBS said the matter had been resolved and the money would be going back to CBS in its entirety.

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Target suspends in-store sales of sports cards, cites safety

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target on Friday cited safety concerns in suspending in-store sales of sports and Pokemon trading cards, but made no mention of a recent fight over cards outside a Wisconsin store. While the Minneapolis-based retailer didn’t give a direct reason for the change, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported it came after police in Brookfield, Wisconsin, reported that four men had attacked another man over cards on May 7.

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The S&P 500 rose 61.35 points, or 1.5%, to 4,173.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 360.68, or 1.1%, to 34,382.13. The Nasdaq rose 304.99 points, or 2.3%, to 13,429.98. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 53.68 points, or 2.5%, to 2,224.63.