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Business Highlights: Infrastructure deal, bank stress tests

·5 min read

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‘We have a deal’: Biden announces infrastructure agreement

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has announced a bipartisan agreement on a pared-down but still huge infrastructure plan. The agreement with a group of Republican and Democratic senators on Thursday would make a start on his top legislative priority and validate his efforts to reach across the political aisle. Plans to pump money into rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure, meanwhile, could give companies that make machinery and materials a solid foundation for growth. Caterpillar, with its heavy machinery, and construction materials company Vulcan Materials could see years of additional business as roads and bridges are rebuilt and buildings are modernized.

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All big banks pass latest Federal Reserve ‘stress tests’

NEW YORK (AP) — All 23 of the nation’s biggest banks are healthy enough to withstand a sudden economic catastrophe, the Federal Reserve said Thursday, releasing the results from its latest “stress tests.” It gives the banks the green light to resume paying out dividends to investors and buying back their stock. This year’s harshest test, known as the “severely adverse scenario,” involved a hypothetical global recession lasting from late 2020 to September 2022, causing the U.S. economy to contract 4%. Unemployment would jump to 10.75%, and stock prices would fall 55%. Even under this scenario, all banks would have enough capital to continue to operate with room to spare.

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US economy grows 6.4% in Q1, and it’s likely just the start

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a solid 6.4% rate in the first three months of this year, setting the stage for what economists are forecasting could be the strongest year for the economy in possibly seven decades. The Commerce Department said Thursday that growth in the gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, was unchanged from two previous estimates. The gain represented an acceleration from growth at a 4.3% rate in the fourth quarter.

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Google delays phase out of tracking tech by nearly 2 years

LONDON (AP) — Google is delaying by nearly two years the phase out of Chrome web browser technology that tracks users for ad purposes, saying that it needs more time to develop a replacement system. The tech giant on Thursday moved its deadline to remove so-called third-party cookies to late 2023 rather than January 2022 as was initially planned. Third-party cookies are snippets of code that log user info and are used by advertisers to more effectively target their campaigns, thereby helping fund free online content such as newspapers and blogs. However, they’ve also been a longstanding source of privacy concerns because they can be employed to track users across the internet.

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FedEx posts profit as online shopping boom continues

NEW YORK (AP) — FedEx reported a nearly $2 billion profit in its most recent quarter, after reporting a loss the year before, helped by a surge in online shopping and the growth of its business-to-business shipping services. Package delivery companies like FedEx have been in high demand during the pandemic, as more people stayed home and shopped online. At the same time, FedEx has been delivering COVID-19 vaccines. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company reported net income of $1.87 billion for the three months ending May 31, compared with a $334 million loss in the same period the year before.

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The Teamsters have a new mission: Unionize Amazon workers

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the nation’s largest union is aiming to unionize Amazon workers. Representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union that represents 1.4 million workers, voted on Thursday to make organizing Amazon workers a priority. That means it will create a division focused on Amazon and set aside money for the effort. The Teamsters said that Amazon, the nation’s second-largest private employer, is exploiting its employees by paying them low wages, pushing them to work at fast speeds and giving them no job security. It also said the company, which has been rapidly growing its delivery business, threatens the working standards it has created for workers at other freight and delivery companies, such as UPS.

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Congress repeals Trump-era regulations on payday lenders

NEW YORK (AP) — Congress has overturned a set of regulations enacted in the final days of the Trump administration that effectively allowed payday lenders to avoid state laws capping interest rates. The House voted 218-208 to overturn the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s payday lending regulations with one Republican voting with Democrats. Thursday’s vote to overturn the OCC’s “true lender rules” marked the first time Democrats in Congress successfully overturned regulations using the Congressional Review Act. The act was enacted in the mid-1990s and gives Congress the authority to overrule federal agency rules and regulations with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate.

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Stocks add to weekly gains, helped by infrastructure deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Thursday as traders were encouraged to see a bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending as well as some positive reports on the economy. The 0.6% gain in the S&P 500 to 4,266 marked another record high for the benchmark index, beating the peak it set early last week. Stocks added to their gains in the afternoon after President Joe Biden announced the infrastructure deal, which is sure to benefit companies that make machinery and materials. Bond prices fell, pushing yields up slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.49%.

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The S&P 500 rose 24.65 points, or 0.6%, to 4,266.49. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 322.58 points, or 1%, to 34,196.82. The Nasdaq added 97.98, or 0.7%, to 14,369.71. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 30.15 points, or 1.3%, to 2,333.62.

The Associated Press

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