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Business Highlights: Russian business backlash, bond payment

March 17, 2022 GMT

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Russian businesses in US face backlash from war in Ukraine

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans angered by Russia’s war on Ukraine are taking it out on Russian businesses, brands or anything that sounds Russian. Some are pouring out vodka, boycotting Russian restaurants and even leaving threatening voicemail messages at Russian businesses. Experts say it’s the most intense anti-Russian sentiment they’ve seen. They also call the behavior irrational and misplaced, especially when so many business owners are denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and supporting Ukraine, not to mention the fact that some are not even Russian. To clarify their positions to their customers, many have posted Ukrainian signs on their doors or pledged their support for Ukraine on social media while condemning Russia’s actions.

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House votes to further restrict Russian trade after invasion

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has voted to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. The legislation would pave the way for President Joe Biden to enact higher tariffs on various products as the United States seeks to further weaken the Russian economy in response to its military assault on Ukraine. The Senate is expected to take up the measure soon. The House vote on Thursday came one day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with Congress and U.S. allies to do more to deter Russia’s attack. The broad trade action, which would revoke “most favored nation” status for Russia, is being taken in coordination with the European Union and Group of Seven countries.

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Pressure mounts for multinationals in Russia to leave

As the war in Ukraine drags on, international companies still in Russia are coming under increasing pressure to leave. Some seem to be determined to stay on. Some say they are reconsidering or trying to figure out an exit. Some aren’t speaking at all, a testament to the fraught nature of the situation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is appealing to Western leaders and lawmakers, stepping up the country’s pleas to pressure companies to exit Russia. The U.S. and its allies have already put a slew of sanctions in place aimed at crippling the Russian economy.

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Study: SUVs, pickups hit pedestrians more often than cars do

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DETROIT (AP) — Drivers of bigger vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs are more likely to hit pedestrians while making turns than drivers of cars. That’s according to a new study released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It points to the increasing popularity of larger vehicles as a possible factor in rising pedestrian deaths on U.S. roads. The authors also questioned whether wider pillars holding up roofs of the larger vehicles make it harder for drivers to spot people. In 2020, the last year for which complete statistics are available, 6,519 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that’s up 59% since 2009, and a 4% increase from 2019.

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US stocks extend rally even as oil climbs back above $100

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street extended a rally into a third day on Thursday, even as oil prices jumped back above $100 per barrel. The S&P 500 climbed 1.2% after drifting between small gains and losses in the early going. The index surged more than 2% in each of the prior two days for its best back-to-back performance in nearly two years. U.S. oil leaped 8.4% to nearly $103 per barrel. Such moves have become the norm as investors struggle to handicap what will happen to the economy and inflation because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, higher interest rates and renewed COVID-19 worries.

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Russia says it transferred bond payment to avoid default

LONDON (AP) — Russia’s Finance Ministry said it transferred a $117 million bond interest payment in an attempt to avoid a default on government debt but left it open if the money actually reached foreign investors by the deadline. A ministry statement carried on Russian state media said Thursday the money had been transferred to an account at Citibank in London and that the ministry would make a statement later on the results of the transfer. Citibank had no comment. The payment due Wednesday would be the first on foreign currency debt since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russia is facing constraints on its finances because of Western sanctions.

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Amazon closes $8.5B deal to acquire Hollywood studio MGM

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon has closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Hollywood studio MGM, two days after European regulators said the deal “would not significantly reduce competition” in European markets. MGM is one of the oldest studios in Hollywood. The retail giant said in a blog post Thursday MGM has more than 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes and awards that will complement Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ work. Amazon plans to draw on the vast MGM library, with famous characters such as Rocky, RoboCop and Pink Panther, to create new movies and shows.

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PayPal enables customers to send money to Ukrainians

NEW YORK (AP) — PayPal says that its users will now be able to send money to Ukrainians, both in the war-ravaged country as well as those now refugees across Europe. Previously, people in Ukraine were only able to use the payments platform to send money out of the country. They will now be able to receive funds, as well as make transfers within Ukraine and abroad. California-based PayPal said it will waive fees on transfers of funds to Ukrainian accounts, or for anyone receiving funds in Ukrainian accounts until June 30. It’s the latest measure by banks and other financial services companies looking for ways to help Ukrainians impacted by Russia’s invasion.

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The S&P 500 rose 53.81 points, or 1.2%, to 4,411.67. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 417.66 points, 1.2%, to 34,480.76. The Nasdaq added 178.23 points, or 1.3%, to 13,614.78. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies tacked on 34.30 points, or 1.7%, to 2,065.02.