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Business Highlights

April 14, 2021 GMT

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Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

NEW YORK (AP) — Bernie Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme, has died in prison. Madoff’s death at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, was confirmed by his lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons. A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that his death was due to natural causes. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. Last year, Madoff’s lawyers filed court papers to try to get the 82-year-old released from prison in the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he had suffered from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions. The request was denied. ___

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Coinbase soars in market debut, valued near $86 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Coinbase has made a rousing debut on Wall Street. The digital currency exchange’s stock rose as high as $429, briefly giving it a market value over $100 billion. The company’s listing on a public stock exchange is seen by some as an inflection point for digital currencies, as Coinbase’s fortunes are seen as closely tied to Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. Bitcoin topped $64,000 Wednesday, up from $29,000 at the start of the year, and Coinbase said recently that its first-quarter revenue should total around $1.8 billion, exceeding its revenue for all of 2020. Shares of Coinbase are trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker “COIN” and closed at $328.28.

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Powell defends Fed’s consideration of climate change risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday defended the central bank’s increasing scrutiny of the impact climate change could have on banks, in the wake of criticism by Republican members of Congress that by doing so the Fed is overstepping its mandate. The Fed has taken several steps in the past year to incorporate the risks posed by climate change into its oversight of the financial system. A key part of the Fed’s job, in addition to setting short-term interest rates to either stimulate or slow the economy, is regulating banks.

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Big-business pushback against voting measures gains momentum

NEW YORK (AP) — A pushback against new voting bills and laws in numerous states is gaining momentum. Dozens of nation’s largest corporations and business leaders have signed a new statement objecting to “any discriminatory legislation.” Signatories to the letter published Wednesday in The New York Times and The Washington Post include Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of America, Google and Best Buy. Also signing were hundreds of business and civic leaders, such as Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg. More than 350 different voting bills are under consideration in dozens of states. On Tuesday, Arkansas was among the latest to approve changes to its election laws, including restrictions on outside polling places and on absentee ballots.

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McDonald’s to mandate anti-harassment training worldwide

CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s will mandate worker training to combat harassment, discrimination and violence in its restaurants worldwide starting next year. McDonald’s has 2 million workers at 39,000 restaurants worldwide. The change is part of a larger reckoning over sexual harassment at the world’s largest burger chain. At least 50 workers have filed charges against the company over the last five years, alleging physical and verbal harassment and, in some cases, retaliation when they complained. McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski says the company needs to set clearer expectations and make sure its workers feel safe and respected.

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Most US stocks rise, indexes end mixed as earnings kick off

NEW YORK (AP) — Most U.S. stocks rose Wednesday following an encouraging start to what’s expected to be a thunderous earnings reporting season, but major indexes still ended mixed as drops in several tech heavyweights including Apple and Facebook weighed them down. The S&P 500 fell 0.4%, easing below the record high it set a day earlier. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 1% but the Russell 2000, which tracks smaller companies, climbed 0.8%. Shares of Coinbase Global surged in their market debut as more mainstream investors embrace cryptocurrencies. Crude oil prices rose sharply on expectations that a resurgent economy will consume more energy.

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Senate OKs tough former regulator as market watchdog chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved President Joe Biden’s choice to lead a key agency overseeing Wall Street. Gary Gensler was confirmed Wednesday to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. His arrival at the agency signals a new emphasis on investor protection after a move toward deregulation during the Trump administration. The vote Wednesday in the Senate to confirm Gensler was 53-45, mostly along party lines. Gensler was a markets regulator before, during the 2008-09 financial crisis. As chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, he tightened oversight of the complex financial transactions that helped cause the Great Recession.

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Users could soon hide ‘like’ counts on Instagram, Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook says it’s going to test out — again — an option for users to hide those “like” counts to see if it can reduce the pressure of being on social media. Instagram, which Facebook owns, will soon allow a small group of random users to decide whether or not they want to see the number of likes their posts and those of others receive. While at first this option will only be on Instagram, the social media giant says it’s also exploring the feature for Facebook.

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The S&P 500 fell 16.93 points, or 0.4%, to 4,124.66. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53.62 points, or 0.2%, to 33,730.89. The Nasdaq composite lost 138.26, or 1%, to 13,857.84. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks climbed 18.79, or 0.8%, to 2,247.72.