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Business Highlights

April 27, 2021 GMT

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Google’s Q1 ad sales surge 32%, Alphabet profit doubles

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Google’s digital advertising network has shifted back into high gear after an unprecedented reversal during the early stages of the pandemic. The robust first-quarter advertising growth announced Tuesday provides the latest sign that advertisers are expecting the economy to roar back to life as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and burst out of their pandemic cocoons. Google is now benefiting from that recovery. The company’s ad sales surged 32% from the same time last year to nearly $45 billion during the January-March period. It’s the third consecutive quarter of accelerating ad growth for Google following an 8% decline during last year’s April-June period.

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Biden signs $15 minimum wage for federal contract workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal contractors. Administration officials say the order provides a pay bump to hundreds of thousands of those workers, including nursing assistants and laborers. They say workers will become more productive as a result, so the increase should not be costly to taxpayers. The increase approved under Tuesday’s executive order could be dramatic for workers who earn the current minimum of $10.95 an hour. Those workers would receive a 37% pay hike, though the increase would be rolled out gradually.

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Microsoft profits soar as cloud demand continues in pandemic

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft’s profits soared during the first three months of 2021, thanks to ongoing demand for its software and cloud computing services during the pandemic. The company on Tuesday reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $14.8 billion, up 38% from the same period last year. Net income of $1.95 per share beat Wall Street expectations. According to FactSet analysts were expecting Microsoft to earn $1.78 per share on revenue of $41 billion for the fiscal quarter ending in March. The software maker posted revenue of $41.7 billion in the January-March period, up 19% from last year.

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Starbucks returns to sales growth in its fiscal Q2

SEATTLE (AP) — After four straight quarters of sales declines, Starbucks returned to growth in the January-March period. The Seattle-based coffee giant said its sales rose 11% to $6.7 billion in the quarter. That was just shy of Wall Street’s forecast, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Starbucks said its global same-store sales jumped 15%, their first increase in a year. In China, same-store sales rocketed up 91%, reflecting a recovery from store closures at this time last year. While Starbucks saw a 4% decline in store visits globally, those who visited spent more on snacks and frothy drinks, the company said.

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Stocks end a wobbly day mixed, S&P 500 still near record

NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. stock indexes ended a wobbly day mixed on Wall Street, keeping the S&P 500 near the record high it set a day earlier. The benchmark index ended down less than one point Tuesday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed basically unchanged. The Nasdaq fell 0.3%. It’s a heavy week for earnings reports from big U.S. companies. UPS soared after reporting another surge in delivery volumes. Investors will be watching for news out of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday after its two-day meeting, as well as President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress.

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Toyota acquires Lyft’s self-driving unit for $550 million

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. has acquired the self-driving division of American ride-hailing company Lyft for $550 million, in a move that highlights the Japanese automaker’s ambitions in that technology. The acquisition, announced Tuesday, was carried out by Woven Planet Holdings, a Toyota subsidiary that began business in January and focuses on innovations and investment in projects such as “smart cities,” robotics and automated driving. The Woven Planet project will bring together an international team of engineers and researchers in mobility services, software and sensor assets and automated driving systems, according to Toyota.

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Insurer Humana moves deeper into home care with $5.7B deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Humana is spending $5.7 billion to jump deeper into delivering care at home, a trend that took off during the pandemic and one the health insurer expects will continue to grow. The insurer said Tuesday that it will buy the rest of Kindred at Home after initially acquiring a 40% stake in the care provider a few years ago. Kindred at Home sends nurses, physical therapists and other care providers to patients who are deemed homebound by doctors. The company serves more than a half million patients annually. Humana expects the deal to close in the third quarter.

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Visa 2Q profits fall 2%, as economic slowdown hits payments

NEW YORK (AP) — Visa says fiscal second-quarter profits fell 2% from a year earlier, as the company dealt with a slowdown across its payment network due to the global pandemic. The payment processing giant said it earned $3.03 billion in its fiscal second quarter, or $1.38 a share, down from $3.08 billion in the same period a year ago. A lack of travel and a global slowdown of the economy caused payments volume to fall by 11% from a year earlier, the company said.

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The S&P 500 lost 0.90 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,186.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 3.36 points, or less than 0.1%, to 33,984.93. The Nasdaq fell 48.56 points, or 0.3%, to 14,090.22. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks inched up 3.26 points, or 0.1%, to 2,301.27.