Tech stocks pull market lower as bond yields climb again
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mostly lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street as technology stocks fell broadly after spending most of the week holding steady or climbing. The move was once again caused by a rise in bond yields as the 10-year Treasury note’s yield jumped above 1.60%. The S&P 500 was down 0.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.5%, lifted by industrial stocks Boeing and Caterpillar. The technology-heavy Nasdaq was down 1.1%. Even with the modest losses, all three indexes are on pace to end the week up 2% or more.
Spiking energy leads wholesale prices up 0.5% in February
WASHINGTON (AP) — A recent rise in wholesale prices moderated a bit in February after a record increase in January. The Labor Department says its producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches consumers, increased by 0.5% last month after jumping 1.3% in January. But energy prices continued to surge, rising 6% last month after a 5.1% jump in January. Still, the smaller overall increase in February could calm fears that inflation is threatening to get out of control.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-AP POLL-RACIAL INJUSTICE
AP-NORC poll: People of color bear COVID-19′s economic brunt
NEW YORK (AP) — A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to have experienced job and other income losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those who have lost income are more likely to have found themselves in a deep financial hole. The poll finds that 62% of Hispanic Americans and 54% of Black Americans have lost some form of household income during the pandemic, including job losses, pay cuts, cuts in hours and unpaid leave. That compares with 45% of white Americans.
Nonprofits hail anti-poverty aspects of COVID relief measure
UNDATED (AP) — Nonprofit advocates have hailed Congress’ passage of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure that has the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty at a scale not seen since the New Deal. The legislation, signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday, expands a key loan program for nonprofits, boosts AmeriCorps funding and enacts or expands several programs aimed at providing direct relief to individuals. Independent Sector, an advocacy coalition of foundations and nonprofits, said the bill “contains important and hard-fought victories for the nonprofit sector and the people we serve during Covid-19 and these challenging economic times.”
Tussle between US, allies over vaccine supply escalates
WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of coronavirus vaccine doses are in cold storage in the U.S. that can’t be injected in the states because they are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But the Biden administration is not yet allowing those doses to be sent overseas, where American allies are struggling to get enough vaccine for vulnerable populations. U.S. partners are prodding President Joe Biden to release supplies of Astra Zeneca’s vaccine that are sitting idle, noting that the administration has lined up enough doses of the three already-approved vaccines to cover every American adult by the end of May and the entire U.S. population by the end of July.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-STATES-VACCINE SUPPLY
White House directing states to allow shots for May 1
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration says it has the authority to direct states to open up their vaccine supply to all adult Americans by May 1 using the same mechanism it used to order that teachers and childcare workers become eligible earlier this month. States are required to distribute the federally provided vaccines in accordance with guidelines set by the Department of Health and Human Services. The department will issue a directive telling states to allow all adults to be vaccinated under their eligibility criteria by May 1. The federal government also controls supply directly through the federal retail pharmacy program, federally run mass vaccination sites and federally qualified community health centers and could use those mechanisms as well to expand eligibility.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-STATE TECHNOLOGY
Hunt for vaccine slots often leads through scheduling maze
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The COVID-19 vaccine deployment has exposed technology shortcomings across the nation’s fragmented public health systems. Millions of Americans have been frustrated to discover that the road to a shot often leads through a maze of scheduling systems. Some vaccine seekers spend days or weeks trying to book online appointments. Even those who get a coveted slot can still be stymied by pages of forms or websites that slow to a crawl and crash. A lack of investment in local health tracking systems has also left officials without a full picture of who has been vaccinated.
WHO grants emergency authorization for J&J COVID vaccine
GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization has granted an emergency use listing for the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. That means the one-dose shot can now theoretically be used as part of the international COVAX effort to distribute vaccines globally, including to poor countries without any supplies. The emergency use listing Friday comes a day after the European Medicines Agency recommended the shot be given the green light across the 27-country European Union. The U.N. backed COVAX effort previously announced it had an initial agreement with J&J to provide 500 million doses, but that is not legally binding.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINATIONS SUSPENDED
Germany, others stick with AstraZeneca vaccine as some pause
BERLIN (AP) — Officials in several European countries are pushing back against the decision by some others to paused their use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine following sporadic reports of blood clots, despite a lack of evidence the shot was responsible. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday that the country takes reports of possible side effects from vaccines “very, very seriously.” But Spahn added that both the European Medicines Agency and Germany’s own vaccine oversight body have said they have no evidence of an increase in dangerous blood clots in connection with the shots. Denmark was the first to temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday after reports of blood clots in some people. Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria have followed suit.
German IT safety chief: act on Exchange hack or go offline
BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany’s cybersecurity agency has warned IT system administrators to swiftly patch known holes in Microsoft Exchange servers or take those systems offline amid concerns of an imminent wave of ransomware attacks. Arne Schoenbohm said the Federal Cyber Security Authority, or BSI, was particularly concerned that small and medium-sized companies could be targeted. He said on Twitter Friday that “it is to be expected that cybercriminals will soon carry out an automated attack, meaning organizations worldwide will face a big wave.” Schoenbohm said were were still 20,000 known open systems and some 5,000 servers which have already been patched contain backdoors that might allow attackers entry.
Netflix tests out a possible password-sharing crackdown
NEW YORK (AP) — Netflix is testing a way to crack down on password sharing. The streaming service has been asking some users of the popular streaming site to verify that they live with the holder of the account. The test, first reported by Streamable.com, comes as streaming services proliferate and more people share passwords and services. Netflix did not say how many people were part of the test or if it was only in the U.S. or elsewhere. “This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” the company said in a statement.
Maskless, boozing JetBlue passenger faces $14,500 FAA fine
WASHINGTON (AP) — An airline passenger could wind up paying $14,500 for refusing to wear a face mask and drinking alcohol that he had brought on board. The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it proposed the civil penalty against a passenger on a Dec. 23 JetBlue Airways flight that left New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport bound for the Dominican Republic but turned back to JFK because of the man’s behavior. The FAA said the man crowded a passenger in the next seat, spoke loudly and ignored a flight attendant’s request to wear his mask. The agency said he also refused to stop drinking alcohol that he brought on board, which is prohibited by federal regulation. The man wasn’t identified.