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Business Highlights: Fed nominee, war impact on supply chain

March 15, 2022 GMT

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Embattled Federal Reserve pick Raskin withdraws nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sarah Bloom Raskin, under fire from Senate Republicans for her views on climate change and financial regulation, has withdrawn her name from consideration for a key post on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Raskin’s nomination was stuck in the Senate Banking Committee after Republican senators boycotted a vote on it. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said Monday that he also opposed her, dooming her chances of winning confirmation in the full Senate.

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War in Ukraine disrupts key supply chains - and lives

It can be hard to measure the ways that Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted the global supply of parts and raw materials needed to manufacture products ranging from cars to computer chips. But it’s a visceral feeling for Andrey Bibik, head of the Interpipe steel plant in Dnipro, Ukraine, who spent the first day of the war turning his bustling operation into an empty cavern and opened its bomb shelters to local citizens Getting giant gas pipes to Texas oil companies and railway wheels to European high-speed train operators has been put on hold as hundreds of Interpipe employees have joined the fight against Russia.

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Sudden braking in 2 VW SUV models draws regulatory scrutiny

DETROIT (AP) — First came the beeping alarms and the dashboard lights warning that something had gone haywire. Then the driver’s side windows suddenly and mysteriously rolled down. Kendall Heiman’s Volkswagen SUV then pulled the scariest stunt of all: It abruptly braked for no reason. Heiman, a clinical social worker in Lawrence, Kansas, was driving on Jan. 5 when her 2021 Atlas Cross Sport went bonkers. Heiman’s experience, it turns out, wasn’t unique. Since late 2020, 46 VW owners have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the same glitches in their 2020 and 2021 VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs.

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Watchdog has concerns with projects at US nuclear repository

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — There’s no way of knowing if cost increases and missed construction deadlines will continue at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository. That’s according to a report made public Tuesday by Government Accountability Office. The reports says the U.S. Energy Department is not required to develop a corrective action plan for addressing the root causes of challenges at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico. A multimillion-dollar project is underway at the underground facility to build a new ventilation system so full operations can resume. The Energy Department had blamed significant cost overruns and delays on the contractor’s inexperience and difficulties in attracting workers.

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Biden moving to narrow gender pay gap for federal workers

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is marking Equal Pay Day by taking new steps aimed at ending the gender pay gap for federal workers and contractors. President Joe Biden on Tuesday is signing an executive order that encourages the government to consider banning federal contractors from seeking information about job applicants’ prior salary history. And a Labor Department directive is aimed at strengthening federal contractors’ obligations to audit payrolls to help guard against pay disparities based on gender, race or ethnicity. Equal Pay Day is designed to call attention to how much longer women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

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EU regulators clear Amazon’s $8.45 billion purchase of MGM

LONDON (AP) — European regulators have cleared Amazon’s purchase of Hollywood studio MGM, saying the deal doesn’t raise any competition concerns. The online shopping giant said last year that it was buying MGM in a $8.45 billion deal aimed at bulking up its video streaming service with more content to watch. The European Commission said Tuesday that its investigation found the deal “would not significantly reduce competition” in European markets, including for movie and TV production and wholesale supply of TV channels. The commission said MGM’s content can’t be considered “must-have” and it’s “not among the top production studios,” despite holding the rights to successful franchises including James Bond.

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Stocks rally on Wall Street as oil prices keep falling

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Tuesday as inflation worries ebbed and oil prices slid. The S&P 500 gained 2.1% after a report showed inflation’s rapid acceleration paused at the wholesale level last month. The wilder action was in oil and Asian stock markets, where tighter anti-COVID measures in China are raising worries. Oil tumbled more than 6%, and a barrel of U.S. crude fell below $97. Stocks in Hong Kong sank more than 5% for a second straight day. Treasury yields were mixed as the Federal Reserve began its highly anticipated two-day meeting on rates.

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Mercedes opens Alabama battery plant, adding up to 600 jobs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Mercedes-Benz has opened a new electric vehicle battery factory near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that will create up to 600 new jobs. The German automaker said Tuesday that the plant in Bibb County opened a few months before it plans to start making two all-electric SUVs at a large factory in nearby Tuscaloosa. Mercedes says the new battery plant will make cells for the EQS and EQE SUVs, which will be built for sale in the U.S. and for exports. The automaker says it spent about $1 billion on the battery plant and to upgrade the assembly line in Tuscaloosa to make electric vehicles.

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The S&P 500 jumped 89.34 points, or 2.1%, to 4,262.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 599.10 points, 1.8%, to 33,544.34. The Nasdaq gained 367.40 points, or 2.9%, to 12,948.62. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 27.25 points, or 1.4%, to 1,968.97.