Business Highlights

·5 min read

___

New or used? Either way, price hikes squeeze US auto buyers

FENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The viral pandemic has triggered a cascade of price hikes throughout America’s auto industry — a surge that has made both new and used vehicles unaffordable for many. Prices of new vehicles far outpaced overall consumer inflation over the past year. In response, many buyers who were priced out of that market turned to used vehicles. Yet their demand proved so potent that used-vehicle prices soared even more than new ones did. The price of an average new vehicle jumped 6% to a record $40,578 between January of last year and December, according to data from Edmunds.com. The average price of a used vehicle surged nearly 14% to over $23,000.

___

Fed’s Powell: Recovery incomplete, high inflation unlikely

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell underscored the U.S. economy’s ongoing weakness Tuesday in remarks that suggested that the Fed sees no need to alter its ultra-low interest rate policies anytime soon. Powell’s comments are in contrast to increasing optimism among many analysts that the economy will grow rapidly later this year. That outlook has also raised concerns about a potential surge in inflation and fueled a sharp increase in longer-term interest rates this year. Most economists say they think the Fed’s continued low rates, further government financial aid and progress in combating the viral pandemic could create a mini-economic boom as soon as this summer.

___

Unfriended no more: Facebook to lift Australia news ban

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Facebook says it will lift a ban on Australians viewing and sharing news on its platform after it struck a deal with the government on proposed legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. The social media company caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. The deal announced Tuesday that allows for Facebook’s co-operation is a major victory in Australia’s efforts to make Google and Facebook pay for the journalism that they use. The faceoff is one that governments and tech companies the world over have watched closely.

___

Late gains reverse most of an early slide on stock market

NEW YORK (AP) — A late burst of buying erased much of an early slide on Wall Street Tuesday. The S&P 500 managed a gain of 0.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.5%, having clawed back most of an early drop of as much as 3.9%. Facebook, Disney, Netflix and other communications stocks helped drive the comeback. Early drops in Big Tech companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft moderated as the day went on. Tesla, which joined the S&P 500 at the end of last year, ended down 2.2% after being down as much as 13.4%. Bond yields held near their highest level in a year.

___

Consumer confidence rises for second straight month

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose again in February as an improved COVID-19 vaccine push has Americans more optimistic about the future. The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 91.3, up from 88.9 in January. The present situation index, which is based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labour market conditions, rose to 92 from 85.5 last month. The expectations index — based on consumers’ near-term outlook for income, business, and labour conditions — ticked down slightly. The consumer confidence index is closely watched by businesses and economists because consumer spending makes up about 70% of U.S. economic activity.

___

AP Exclusive: Black Lives Matter opens up about its finances

NEW YORK (AP) — A financial snapshot shared exclusively with The Associated Press shows the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation took in just over $90 million last year. The foundation widely seen as a steward of the Black Lives Matter movement said individual donations averaged $30.76 in 2020. The foundation committed $21.7 million in grant funding to BLM chapters and other Black-led local organizations, and ended the year with a balance of more than $60 million. This marks the first time in the movement’s nearly eight-year history that BLM leaders have revealed a detailed look at their finances amid criticism that they have operated with little public transparency.

___

Pandemic art sales: Prettying up the walls we’re staring at

NEW YORK (AP) — It seems that many Americans who have been stuck at home staring at their walls during the pandemic are trying to pretty them up. Industry observers say sales of artwork and frames were up last year as a result of the pandemic. A founder of the Twitter account Room Rater says people have become more aware of art and the way their homes look. Those lucky enough to have disposable income and who haven’t been able to spend it on travel or going out might be beautifying their rooms instead.

___

The S&P 500 index rose 4.87 points, or 0.1%, to 3,881.37. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 15.66 points to 31,537.35. The Nasdaq lost 67.85 points, or 0.5 %, to 13,465.20. The Russell 2000 small-cap index slid 19.76 points, or 0.9%, to 2,231.21.

The Associated Press