Business Highlights

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    <p>___</p> <p>With layoffs down and spending up, US rebound gains momentum</p> <p>WASHINGTON (AP) – A much-awaited economic boom coming off the pandemic recession appeared to edge closer to reality Thursday with fresh data showing the pace of layoffs dwindling, consumers spending freely and manufacturing rebounding.
    The latest barometers point to an economy that´s steadily regaining its health as vaccinations accelerate, business curbs are lifted in many states and more people willing to travel, shop, eat out and otherwise resume their spending habits. Though many Americans who have lost jobs or income are still suffering, hopes are rising that the benefits of the recovery will spread further in the coming months to groups of people who have yet to benefit.</p> <p>___</p> <p>$1,400 stimulus checks helped March retail sales soar 9.8%</p> <p>NEW YORK (AP) – Newly vaccinated and armed with $1,400 stimulus checks, Americans went on a spending spree last month, buying new clothes and going out to eat again. Retail sales surged a seasonally adjusted 9.8% after dropping about 3% the month before, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

    The rise was much better than the 5.5% increase Wall Street analysts had expected. Thursday´s report is the latest sign that the economy is improving as vaccinations accelerate, business restrictions are relaxed and more people are willing to head out to shop or game online terbaik eat.
    Employers, for example, added 916,000 jobs last month, the most since August. And U.S. consumer confidence surged in March to the highest level in a year.</p> <p>___</p> <p>Equal pay bill nears approval in House, long odds in Senate</p> <p>WASHINGTON (AP) – House Democrats are poised to pass legislation that they say would help close the gap between what men and women are paid in the workplace, though the measure faces little chance of overcoming Republican opposition in the Senate.

    The bill would make it easier to sue employers over pay discrimination, curb the ability of companies to retaliate and beef up enforcement of existing laws. It would also ban employers from prohibiting employees from discussing their salaries. Democrats say the bill is needed because white women make on average 82 cents to every dollar earned by white men. But Republicans counter it would largely be a boon for trial lawyers looking to sue.</p> <p>___</p> <p>After union vote, Bezos vows to do better for Amazon workers</p> <p>NEW YORK (AP) – After a union battle at an Alabama warehouse, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said that as executive chairman he will focus on making the company a better place to work.

    Bezos made the disclosure Thursday in his annual letter to shareholders. He said he didn´t take comfort in the outcome of the recent union election in Bessemer, Alabama, even though workers there overwhelmingly rejected a union. Bezos says Amazon has to do a better job for its employees.</p> <p>___</p> <p>US average mortgage rates fall again; 30-year loan at 3.04%</p> <p>WASHINGTON (AP) – Mortgage rates fell for a second straight week amid signs of economic improvement.

    Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the benchmark 30-year home-loan rate declined to 3.04% this week from 3.13% last week. At this time last year, the long-term rate was 3.31%. The rate for a 15-year loan dipped to 2.35% from to 2.42% last week. Last week´s decline was the first in more than two months.
    Mortgage rates have been at historically low levels, but strong demand and low supply of available homes have pushed prices higher in recent years.</p> <p>___</p> <p>Bank of America profit doubles in 1Q to $8.1 billion</p> <p>NEW YORK (AP) – Bank of America said Thursday that its profits doubled in the first quarter as the improving economy allowed it to release billions from its loan-loss reserves that it originally set aside in the early days of the pandemic.

    The North Carolina-based banking giant earned $8.1 billion in the quarter, equal to 86 cents per share, compared to a profit of $4.01 billion, or 40 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts were looking for BofA to earn 66 cents a share. The bank had a net one-time gain of $1.86 billion for releasing loans from its loan-loss reserves.</p> <p>___</p> <p>A year after stocks soared, CEOs must show it was warranted</p> <p>NEW YORK (AP) – It´s time for big companies to show that their huge stock-price moves over the last year were warranted.

    Not only are expectations high for this upcoming earnings season, which got going Wednesday with reports from some Wall Street titans like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, they´re rising even more by the day. Analysts predict earnings grew close to 25% in the first quarter.
    But even that may not juice stock prices further, because the S&P 500 has already soared more than 80% since hitting a bottom in March 2020.</p> <p>___</p> <p>Dow crests 34,000 on more proof that economy is recovering</p> <p>NEW YORK (AP) -Stocks rallied to more record highs on Wall Street as a suite of stellar data suggested the recovery for the economy and corporate profits is accelerating.

    The S&P 500 rose 1.1% Thursday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.9%, both reaching all-time highs. Expectations are very high on Wall Street that the economy is in the midst of exploding out of the cavern created by the pandemic. New reports only bolstered those expectations, including ones showing how hungry Americans are to spend again, how fewer workers are losing their jobs and how much fatter corporate profits are getting.</p> <p>___</p> <p>The S&P 500 rose 45.76 points, or 1.1%, to 4,170.42.

    The Dow climbed 305.10 points, or 0.9%, to 34,035.99. The Nasdaq composite added 180.92 points, or 1.3%, to 14,038.76, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 9.35 points, or 0.4%, to 2,257.07.</p></div>
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