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Business Highlights

·5 min read

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Yellen pushes GOP senators on $1.9 trillion relief package

WASHINGTON (AP) — Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice as Treasury secretary, said Tuesday the incoming administration would focus on winning quick passage of its $1.9 trillion relief plan, rejecting Republican arguments that the measure is too big given the size of U.S. budget deficits. “More must be done,” Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee during her confirmation hearing. “Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later.” Democrats voiced support for the Biden proposal while Republicans questioned spending nearly $2 trillion more on top of nearly $3 trillion that Congress passed in various packages last year.

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GM teams up with Microsoft on driverless cars

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — General Motors is teaming up with Microsoft to accelerate its rollout of electric, self-driving cars. In the announcement Tuesday, the companies said Microsoft’s Azure cloud and edge computing platform would be used to “commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale.” Microsoft joins General Motors, Honda and other institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing its valuation to about $30 billion. Cruise, which GM bought in 2016, has been testing its automated vehicles in San Francisco without backup drivers. Shares in GM jumped more than 8% Tuesday morning.

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Supreme Court takes on early stage of global warming case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems cautious about giving oil and gas companies a win in a case involving global warming. The case the court was hearing Tuesday is not about whether the companies can be held responsible for harms resulting from global warming. Instead, it’s an important preliminary fight that could help determine whether similar global warming cases ultimately wind up being argued in state court or federal court. The companies want to be in federal court. Both liberal and conservative justices expressed some skepticism of the companies’ arguments. A win for the oil and gas companies would make it easier for them to challenge an order sending a case from federal court back to state court.

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Wall Street’s momentum swings back as stocks, yields tick up

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street, recovering some of last week’s losses and pulling closer to their record highs. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% Tuesday and got back within 1% of its record set earlier this month. Markets have been rising on enthusiasm about a coming economic recovery as COVID-19 vaccines roll out and amid expectations that Washington will soon try to deliver another round of economic stimulus. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, called on Congress to do more for the economy in testimony before the Senate.

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Biden’s test: Engineering economic boom in a partisan divide

BALTIMORE (AP) — When Joe Biden entered the White House as vice-president in 2009, the economy was cratering. He returns to the White House a dozen years later as president, with the economy battered and shaken by a pandemic. But this time is different, and it could potentially reset the nation’s politics if Biden and Democrats can count on a level of growth not seen in a generation. Hanging over any effort to boost the economy, though, is an enduring partisan divide that contributed to the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Politics is increasingly shaping how Americans feel about the economy, scrambling the political incentives for lawmakers to co-operate .

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Stores drop MyPillow after CEO pushes election conspiracies

NEW YORK (AP) — The founder and CEO of MyPillow, who amplified President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud, said a backlash against his company has begun after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol this month. Mike Lindell, who is the company’s CEO, said major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s have dropped the brand. Both companies confirmed the decision not to carry the brand in their stores Tuesday, but cited flagging sales rather than Lindell’s actions or his support for Trump.

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Netflix’s big 4Q lifts video service above 200M subscribers

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Netflix’s video streaming service has surpassed 200 million subscribers for the first time as its expanding line-up of TV series and movies continues to captivate people stuck at home during the ongoing battle against the pandemic. The subscriber milestone highlighted Netflix’s fourth-quarter results released Tuesday. The service added another 8.5 million subscribers during the October-December period, capping Netflix’s biggest year since its inception as a DVD-by-mail service in 1997. Netflix ended the year with nearly 204 million worldwide subscribers.

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US rejects Ford, Mazda requests to avoid Takata recalls

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has rejected a request from Ford and Mazda to avoid recalling about 3 million vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday the ammonium nitrate propellant used to inflate the driver’s air bags is showing signs of decay and poses a safety risk. The companies now have 30 days to give the agency a schedule to notify owners and begin the recalls.

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The S&P 500 rose 30.66 points, or 0.8%, to 3,798.91. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 116.26 points, or 0.4%, to 30,930.52. The Nasdaq composite gained 198.68 points, or 1.5%, to 13,197.18. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 27.94 points, or 1.3%, to 2,151.14.

The Associated Press