Business Highlights

·5 min read

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Report: Companies donated $170M to GOP election objectors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Corporations and industry groups have donated at least $170 million in recent years to Republicans who voted to reject President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump. That’s according to a new report by the government watchdog group Public Citizen. The report examines corporate and trade association contributions made since the 2016 election cycle to the 147 members of Congress who, at Trump’s behest, last week objected to the certification of November’s election. Giving by such groups has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week by Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol to stop the vote.

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US to block cotton from China region targeted in crackdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government says it will halt imports of cotton and tomatoes from the Uighur region of China in its most sweeping action yet to pressure the Communist Party to stop a campaign against ethnic minorities. Officials say Customs and Border Protection will use its authority to block products suspected of being produced with forced labour to keep out cotton, tomatoes and related products from the Xinjiang region of northwest China. The region is a major global supplier of cotton, so the order could have significant effects on global commerce. The Trump administration has already blocked imports from individual companies linked to forced labour in Xinjiang.

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Defiance of virus dining bans grows as restaurants flounder

BORING, Ore. (AP) — A growing number of restaurants nationwide are opening for indoor dining in defiance of strict COVID-19 regulations in their states, saying they are targeted unfairly and are barely hanging on. In Oregon, a movement to defy an indoor-dining ban began quietly on Jan. 1 and is gaining steam despite warnings from state inspectors and surging COVID-19 case numbers. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has also threatened restaurants with the revocation of liquor and slot machine licenses in a standoff that’s increasingly attracting the attention of far-right groups such as the People’s Rights network. Similar revolts have also played out in places with strict COVID-19 rules, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and California.

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Wall Street drifts higher; Treasury yields slow their rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed mixed on Wall Street after major indexes spent the day drifting up and down, not far off the record highs they reached last week. The S&P 500 edged 0.2% higher thanks in large part to gains from several Big Tech companies including Apple and Amazon, even though most stocks in the index fell. Small-company stocks edged lower after posting big gains in the first week of the year. Treasury yields stalled following a rapid rise over the past few weeks.

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WhatsApp growth slumps as rivals Signal, Telegram rise

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram are seeing huge upticks in downloads from Apple and Google’s app stores, while WhatsApp’s growth is on the decline following a privacy fiasco where the company was forced to clarify a message it sent to users. But experts fear the bigger reason is likely due to an influx of conservative social media users seeking alternative platforms after mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter tightened their enforcement on issues like inciting violence and hate speech, including suspending President Donald Trump last week. This could lead to more ideological splintering and further hide extremism in the dark corners of the internet.

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Intel replaces its chief executive after a rocky stretch

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Intel is replacing its CEO after only two years, but it has been a rough stretch for the chipmaker. Bob Swan, who became the company’s chief executive in early 2019, will be replaced in mid-February by industry veteran Pat Gelsinger. Intel said Wednesday that the change in leadership is unrelated to its financial performance last year. In mid-2020, Intel disclosed that there would be a substantial delay in its development of a next-generation chip-making process already in use by a major Taiwan supplier, TSMC. Wednesday’s shakeup also followed an activist investor’s recent push for major changes at the company.

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FAA steps up enforcement against unruly airline passengers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials say they’re going to get tougher on airline passengers who disrupt flights. The move Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration follows several incidents involving people who refused to wear masks or conducted in-flight demonstrations of support for President Donald Trump. The FAA says it’s seeing a disturbing increase in such incidents. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson signed an order directing that instead of warnings, unruly passengers will immediately face enforcement actions. Penalties can includes fines and jail terms for assaulting or threatening airline crews or other passengers. The policy will run through March 30.

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Trump business backlash part of ‘cancel culture,’ son says

NEW YORK (AP) — Hits to President Donald Trump’s business empire since the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol are part of a liberal “cancel culture.” That’s according to son, Eric Trump, who said in an interview with The Associated Press that his father will leave the presidency with a powerful brand backed by millions of voters who will follow him “to the ends of the Earth.” The remarks come amid an extraordinary backlash against the Trump Organization that included the PGA cancelling its golf tournament at the president’s New Jersey course and several banks saying they will no longer lend to him.

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The S&P 500 rose 8.65 points, or 0.2%, to 3,809.84. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 8.22 points, or less than 0.1%, to 31,060.47. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 56.52 points, or 0.4%, to 13,128.95. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks slid 15.99 points, or 0.8%, to 2,111.97.

The Associated Press