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Business Highlights: Consumer spending, G20 meeting

October 29, 2021 GMT

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US consumer spending up a modest 0.6% with inflation high

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers slowed their spending to a gain of just 0.6% in September, a cautionary sign for an economy that remains in the grip of a pandemic and a prolonged bout of high inflation. At the same time, a key inflation barometer that is closely followed by the Federal Reserve surged 4.4% last month from a year earlier — the fastest such increase in three decades. Sharply rising prices, in part a result of supply shortages, have imposed a growing burden on American households. For months, annual inflation has remained far above the modest annual rates of 2% or less that prevailed before the pandemic recession.

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G20 leaders to confront energy prices, other economic woes

ROME (AP) — The global economy is giving leaders of the Group of 20 countries a lot to talk about at their summit this weekend in Rome. The presidents and prime ministers representing 80% of the global economy will confront a recovery hampered by an energy crunch that’s spurring higher fuel and utility prices, new COVID-19 outbreaks and logjams in supply chains. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he wants to press other leaders on high oil prices. One thing is set: leaders will sign off on a deal to enact a global minimum corporate tax that could help reap more money for governments that have increased spending on pandemic relief.

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Wall Street closes at new highs after day of choppy trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are ending higher Friday as Wall Street closed out a milestone-setting week. Health care, communication services and technology companies rose. The three major indexes all set records: The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3% and Nasdaq closed 0.3% higher. Apple fell 1.8% and Amazon lost 2.2% after both companies cited continued supply chain difficulties in their latest quarterly reports. The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending grew just 0.6% in September, a cautionary sign for an economy that remains in the grip of a pandemic and a prolonged bout of high inflation.

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US wages jump by the most in records dating back 20 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wages and salaries jumped in the three months ending in September by the most on records that date back 20 years as companies are forced to offer higher pay to fill a near-record number of available jobs. The Labor Department said Friday that pay increased 1.5% in the third quarter. That’s up sharply from 0.9% in the previous quarter. The value of benefits rose 0.9% in the July-September quarter, more than double the preceding three months. The figures demonstrate that workers are gaining greater leverage in the job market and are able to command higher pay, more benefits, and other perks like flexible work hours.

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Profitable Exxon, Chevron emerge as global economy rebounds

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IRVING, Texas (AP) — Exxon Mobil swung to a hefty profit in its third quarter, thanks to increased demand for oil and higher prices. The oil and natural gas company company earned $6.75 billion, or $1.57 per share, reversing last year’s loss. Smaller rival Chevron also swung to a profit, and the two companies beat Wall Street analyst estimates. Oil companies were under pressure during the pandemic to curtail drilling after demand plummeted because so many people were staying home. But so far in 2021, the energy sector has outpaced the broader markets, and consumers are paying more to fill up their tanks.

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US to gauge climate damage from federal oil and gas sales

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. government regulators for the first time will analyze greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling on federal lands on a national scale, as the Biden administration steps up efforts to address climate change, the Interior Department said Friday. The announcement comes as officials are set to hold lease sales in numerous Western states next year amid a fierce debate over federal fossil fuel reserves. Interior’s Bureau of Land Management released a report saying oil, gas and coal extraction from federal lands produced more than 1 billion tons (918 million metric tons) of greenhouse gases last year. That’s about one-fifth of all U.S. energy-related emissions.

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Big, messy, complicated: Biden’s plan churns in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s big, messy and complicated as the Democratic leaders in Congress try to muscle President Joe Biden’s sweeping domestic policy package into law. Fallout was brutal Friday after Biden’s announcement of a $1.75 trillion framework, chiseled back from an initial $3.5 trillion plan, still failed to produce ironclad support from two key holdout senators. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizonan Kyrsten Sinema hold enormous power paring back Biden’s plan. Yet endorsement from the Congressional Progressive Caucus moves the president one step closer to having the votes. The House is determined try next week to pass Biden’s big bill, along with a $1 trillion infrastructure package.

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Toyota announces $461 million investment in Kentucky plant

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — Toyota is investing $461 million into its first U.S. plant to add new technology, increase production flexibility and reduce its carbon footprint, the company said Friday. The announcement didn’t include new jobs at the central Kentucky facility, but officials said 1,400 temporary jobs would be converted into permanent positions in an effort to improve recruiting, retain top talent and provide a more inclusive work environment. Plans include upgrading the Georgetown plant with advanced manufacturing equipment and technologies that will increase speed, flexibility, and competitiveness, the statement said. That includes improvements to expand the plant’s ability to manufacture new electric products.

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The S&P 500 gained 8.96 points, or 0.2%, to 4,605.38. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 89.08 points, or 0.2%, to 35,819.56. The Nasdaq added 50.27 points, 0.3%, to 15,498.39. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 0.79 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,297.19.