Biden at Capitol as Democrats scale back $3.5T plan
President Joe Biden has traveled to Capitol Hill as Democrats strain to rescue a scaled back version of his $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related public works bill. Biden is huddling privately with House Democrats. This after days of frantic negotiations with no deal. Biden is also planning to visit American cities next week to make his case, the White House says. The House had hoped to vote Friday on the smaller public works bill, but that seems unlikely as talks drag. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wants to scale back the big bill to $1.5 trillion. That’s too meager for progressive lawmakers.
Merck says COVID-19 pill cuts risk of death, hospitalization
Drugmaker Merck says its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus. That is potentially a leap forward in the global fight against the pandemic. The company said Friday it will soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize the pill’s use. A decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could come within weeks after that. If cleared, the drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the U.S. require an IV or injection. The results have not been peer reviewed by outside experts. An independent group of medical advisers monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early because the interim results were so strong.
Past storms haven’t fazed Facebook. Instagram Kids might
An unlikely alliance of congressional Democrats and Republicans, along with a host of child development experts and online advocacy groups, is now pressuring Facebook to scuttle Instagram Kids, a proposed service for tweens. Their reasoning could be summarized this way: A company that cannot keep human trafficking, hate speech and the live-streaming of suicides off its platform should not be trusted with making an app for children.. But where Facebook has shaken off past scandals, this one might be more damaging. Facebook is treating the issue largely as a public-relations problem — without much success so far.
Recovery hampered as inflation hits new highs in US, Europe
Inflation has reached new highs in the United States and Europe, as rising energy prices and supply bottlenecks have restrained the economic recoveries from the pandemic in both economies. In the U.S., a Commerce Department report Friday showed that prices rose 4.3% in August from a year earlier, slightly higher than the previous month and the largest annual increase since 1990. In the 19 countries that use the euro, inflation increased to 3.4% in September, from 3% in August, the statistics agency Eurostat said Friday.
US auto sales slump, stalled by car computer chip shortage
U.S. new vehicle sales tumbled in September as a global shortage of computer chips worsened, shuttering factories and limiting the selection on dealer lots. Forecasters expect September sales to be down around 25% from last year. With strong demand, that has forced up prices, sending many buyers to the sidelines. For the third quarter, J.D. Power expects U.S. sales to fall just over 13% from a year ago. General Motors said its third-quarter sales were off nearly 33% from last year. Stellantis saw quarterly sales dip 19%, while Nissan was down 10%. Honda fell 11%. At Toyota, sales were off 22% for September but up just over 1% in the third quarter.
Stocks rebound but still close out worst week since winter
Stocks rebounded on Wall Street Friday but still ended with their worst weekly decline since February. The S&P 500 added 1.1%, led by companies that would benefit the most from a healthier economy. Airlines, hotels and companies hurt by restrictions on travel and other activities had some of the biggest gains. Merck leaped 8.4% after saying its experimental pill to treat COVID-19 cut hospitalizations and deaths by half. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell back to 1.46% from 1.52% late Thursday. It was trading at 1.32% a bit over a week ago. Oil prices rose again.
US factory growth up in September despite supply woes
U.S. manufacturing growth accelerated in September to the highest level since May despite supply chain problems. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Friday that its index of manufacturing activity rose to a reading of 61.1 percent in September, 1.2 percentage points from the August level of 59.9 percent. It was the best showing for manufacturing since a reading of 61.2 in May. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector. September marked the 16th consecutive month manufacturing has grown after contracting in April 2020 when the coronavirus triggered a nationwide shutdown.
White House presses airlines to get employees vaccinated
Two more airlines — Alaska and JetBlue — will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s happening as the Biden administration steps up pressure on airlines to adopt vaccine mandates. A key White House adviser talked about the matter with the CEOs of American, Delta and Southwest, according to people familiar with the situation. United Airlines already requires employees to be vaccinated, and United says it could terminate more than 300 employees who have refused to get the shots. Delta says it will require vaccination or weekly testing. American and Southwest haven’t said how they will comply with President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate.
The S&P 500 rose 49.50 points, or 1.1%, to 4,357.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 482.54 points, or 1.4%, to 34,326.46. The Nasdaq added 118.12 points, or 0.8%, to 14,566.70. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies jumped 37.26 points, or 1.7%, to 2,241.63.
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