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Business Highlights

·5 min read

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EXPLAINER: Why rising rates are unsettling Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — Rising expectations for the economy and inflation have caused U.S. Treasury yields to spurt higher, with the jump unsettling stock markets. These yields are the baseline off which investors try to figure out the value of everything from Apple stock to junk bonds, and their rapid rise is forcing a reassessment about how much to pay for them and every other investment. Investors pay particular attention to the 10-year Treasury note, which climbed above 1.50% this week after starting the year around 0.90%. That helped send the Nasdaq composite to its worst week since October.

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Volkswagen weathers pandemic with $10.7 billion profit

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German automaker Volkswagen made 8.8 billion euros, or $10.7 billion, last year despite the pandemic. The company says the result is better than expected. Earnings and sales were still down from the year before in 2019. Volkswagen said the strong rebound from the pandemic in its biggest market China had helped it stay profitable despite production shutdowns in the early part of the outbreak in Europe. The company says that leaves it with plenty of cash. Shareholders will get the same dividend they did the year before of 4.80 euros per ordinary share.

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BA parent company books huge loss, pushes for digital passes

LONDON (AP) — The parent company of British Airways and Iberia says it lost 6.9 billion euros ($8.3 billion) last year as the pandemic caused a near-total collapse in international air traffic. IAG’s after-tax loss compared with a profit of 1.7 billion euros the year before. Its revenue slumped 70% to 7.8 billion euros. The company on Friday also backed calls for digital health certificates to be issued to people who have been vaccinated against the new coronavirus as a way to help get passengers back on planes in a safe way.

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US consumers rebound to boost spending 2.4% as income jumps

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America’s consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January, the sharpest increase in seven months and a sign that the economy may be poised to sustain a recovery from the pandemic recession. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10% last month, the biggest gain in nine months, boosted by cash payments that most Americans received from the government. The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend.

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Dems near relief bill OK by House, ponder wage plan rescue

WASHINGTON (AP) — A $1.9 trillion package aimed at helping the country rebuild from the pandemic seems headed toward House passage. Now, Democrats are also searching for a way to revive their drive to boost the minimum wage. The relief bill embodies President Joe Biden’s drive to flush cash to individuals, businesses, states and cities suffering from the pandemic. But Democratic progressives are adamant that the party keep trying to pass legislation that would boost the federal minimum wage to $15 hourly. The Senate parliamentarian says that provision must come out of the relief bill, so Democrats are discussing other steps.

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United will pay $49 million to settle air mail fraud case

CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines will pay more than $49 million to settle criminal and civil accusations of defrauding the post office in the handling of international mail. The Justice Department said Friday that former employees of United’s cargo division falsified parcel delivery information for several years. Prosecutors say that as a result, United collected millions of dollars in payments that it should not have received. United is agreeing to pay about $17 million in criminal penalties and forfeited revenue to end the criminal investigation. United will also pay more than $32 million in related civil penalties.

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A bumpy day leaves stocks mostly lower; bond yields ease

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended a bumpy day mostly lower on Wall Street. Technology stocks recovered slightly following several days of heavy selling, but the Nasdaq still posted its biggest weekly loss since October. On Friday the S&P 500 gave back 0.5%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.5%. Treasury yields fell after shooting sharply higher over the last few weeks, something that has unsettled financial markets generally. Investors continued to watch Washington, where Congress is expected to vote on President Joe Biden’s stimulus package. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.42% from 1.51% a day earlier.

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Germany’s Birkenstock selling majority stake to investors

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s Birkenstock, known for its upmarket sandals, says it is selling a majority stake to private equity firm L Catteron and affiliates including Financière Agache, the family investment company of French billionaire Bernard Arnault. Birkenstock didn’t disclose the price or further details of the agreement on Friday. The family-owned company said that bringing in new shareholders “is the next logical step for Birkenstock to facilitate further strong growth in future growth markets such as China and India.”

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The S&P 500 index fell 18.19 points, or 0.5%, to 3,811.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 469.64 points, or 1.5%, to 30,932.37. The Nasdaq gained 72.91 points, or 0.6%, to 13,192.34. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies eked out a small gain, adding 0.88 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,201.05.

The Associated Press