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Business Highlights

·5 min read

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Yellen says Treasury focus to help nation reeling from virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — Janet Yellen has been sworn in as the nation’s 78th Treasury secretary and the first woman to hold the office. She was sworn in by Vice-President Kamala Harris, the first woman elected to the position. In a message to the department’s 84,000 employees, Yellen said they would play a major role in addressing the country’s biggest economic challenges. She said the department must “help the American people endure the final months” of the coronavirus pandemic “by making sure they have roofs over their head and food on the table.” And then, she said, “we must assist them in getting back to work safely.”

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AP sources: Biden to pause oil and gas sales on public lands

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands and water, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment and address climate change. Two people with knowledge of Biden’s plans outlined the proposed moratorium, which will be announced Wednesday. The move follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters announced last week and follows Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and water as part of his plan to address climate change.

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Schumer: Democrats must pass virus aid with or without GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats are prepared to push ahead with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. He said Tuesday that Democrats are united in “bold action” even if it means using procedural tools to pass the legislation without Republicans. Schumer told Senate Democrats during a private meeting to be ready as soon as next week to consider a budget resolution that would lay the groundwork for swift passage.

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Widespread internet outages hit northeast U.S.

NEW YORK (AP) — Internet users across the northeast U.S. experienced widespread outages for several hours Tuesday, interrupting work and school, because of an unspecified Verizon network issue. The company said in the afternoon, Eastern time, that the issue affecting its Fios service had been resolved and that service was returning to normal. A fiber cut in Brooklyn was unrelated to the problem, which Verizon said it was still investigating. People complained about internet issues and not being able to use major online services in an area that stretched from Washington to Boston.

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IMF: Vaccines will power 5.5% global economic growth in 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The spread of COVID-19 vaccines will power a stronger global economic recovery in 2021, the International Monetary Fund forecast Tuesday. After sinking 3.5% in 2020, the worst year since World War II, the global economy will grow 5.5% this year, the 190-nation lending organization predicted. The new figure for 2021 marks an upgrade from the 5.2% growth the IMF forecast in October. The vaccine should contain the spread of the virus and allow governments around the world to ease lockdowns and other restrictions on normal economic activity. The IMF expects the U.S. economy to expand 5.1% this year after collapsing 3.4% in 2020. No. 2 China is expected to grow 8.1% this year.

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Twitter permanently bans My Pillow CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter has permanently banned My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell’s account after he continually perpetuated the baseless claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 U.S. presidential election. A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement that it decided to ban Lindell, who founded bedding company My Pillow, due to “repeated violations” of its civic integrity policy. The policy was implemented last September and is targeted at fighting disinformation. It was not immediately clear which posts by Lindell on Twitter triggered the suspension of his account. Lindell, a Trump supporter, has continued to insist the presidential election was rigged even after U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has begun.

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Microsoft keeps chugging as pandemic continues

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — As the pandemic raged through the U.S., Microsoft’s business was chugging ahead and beat Wall Street expectations for the last three months of 2020, powered by ongoing demand for its workplace software and cloud computing services as people worked from home. The company on Tuesday reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $15.5 billion, up 33% from the same period last year. CEO Satya Nadella in a statement Tuesday called it “the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation sweeping every company and every industry.”

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Starbucks’ recovery, solid in China, still slow in US

SEATTLE (AP) — Starbucks’ recovery slowed at the end of last year as U.S. coronavirus cases mounted. But the coffee titan says it’s confident its U.S. business will fully recover by March. The Seattle-based company said Tuesday that its sales at stores opened at least a year fell 5% in the October-December period. That was an improvement from the prior quarter, but still a bigger decline than Wall Street was expecting. Starbucks also fell short of revenue forecasts. The company reported sales of $6.7 billion in its fiscal first quarter. Starbucks said its business has fully recovered in China, but its U.S. business is still impacted by lower store traffic.

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The S&P 500 lost 5.74 points, or 0.1%, to 3,849.62. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22.96 points, or 0.1%, to 30,937.04. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slid 9.93 points, or 0.1%, to 13,626.06. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 13.42 points, or 0.6%, to 2,149.86.

The Associated Press