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Business Highlights

Last Updated Nov 25, 2020 at 5:56 pm EST

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Picture of US economy is worrisome as virus inflicts damage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gripped by the accelerating viral outbreak, the U.S. economy is under pressure from persistent layoffs, diminished income and nervous consumers, whose spending is needed to drive a recovery from the pandemic. A flurry of data released Wednesday suggested that the spread of the virus is intensifying the threats to an economy still struggling to recover from the deep recession that struck in early spring. The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week for a second straight week to 778,000, evidence that many employers are still slashing jobs more than eight months after the virus hit.

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Lights, camera, sell: Retailers want you to watch and shop

NEW YORK (AP) — Merchants have turned themselves into amateur home shopping network hosts, broadcasting live to thousands of people on Amazon, Facebook or their store’s apps. They put on outfits, spin for the camera and try to get you to buy. The pandemic is fueling growth. With their shops closed during the pandemic, business owners took to livestreaming to sell anything from animal print sweaters to heated eyelash curlers. And people stuck at home and bored made for a captive audience. Merchants plan to take advantage of that this holiday season, livestreaming on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, when Walmart, Target and malls are either closed or trying to discourage crowds from showing up.

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Stocks mostly fall, even as tech gains push Nasdaq to record

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed mostly lower on Wall Street Wednesday, even as gains for technology companies pushed the Nasdaq to its first record high close since September. The S&P 500 slipped 0.2%, but it’s still holding on to a gain of 11% for the month. Industrial, energy and health care stocks accounted for much of the selling. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eased below 30,000, a day after passing that milestone for the first time. Treasury yields were mixed and energy prices closed broadly higher. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will be open for half a day on Friday.

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Delta won’t furlough pilots; job cuts possible at Southwest

DALLAS (AP) — Pilots at Delta Air Lines have accepted concessions on pay in exchange for protection against furloughs through next year. The pilots voted to accept the agreement as Delta deals with a sharp downturn in travel caused by the pandemic. The airline had threatened to furlough more than 1,700 pilots this weekend if an agreement wasn’t reached. The pilots’ union said Wednesday that 74% of workers who voted on the deal agreed to ratify it. The deal doesn’t cut pilot pay rates, but it indirectly lowers their pay by reducing guaranteed monthly working hours by up to 5%.

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As economy struggles, Fed weighs boosting bond purchases

WASHINGTON (AP) — At their meeting earlier this month, Federal Reserve officials discussed possible future adjustments to the central bank’s monthly bond purchases to boost the economy. The Fed’s minutes of the Nov. 4-5 meeting released on Wednesday revealed that while officials believed that no changes were needed to the bond purchase program they recognized that circumstances could shift, warranting adjustments. The Fed since June has been buying $120 billion in bonds each month to keep downward pressure on long-term interest rates as a way of boosting the economy as it struggles to emerge from a deep recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Penguin to buy Simon & Schuster, create publishing giant

BERLIN (AP) — German media giant Bertelsmann says that its Penguin Random House division is buying rival Simon & Schuster. The megadeal would reshape the U.S. publishing industry. Penguin Random House is already the largest American publisher. It will buy the New York-based company, whose authors include Stephen King, Hillary Clinton and John Irving, from TV and film company ViacomCBS for $2.17 billion in cash. The transaction would close in 2021 subject to regulatory approval. No U.S. publisher in modern times would approach the power of the new company. Bertelsmann was founded in 1835 and owns a broad portfolio of broadcast, music and online businesses.

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US mortgage rates stay at record low 2.72% for 30 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates remained at record lows this week as the coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten the economy. Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac reported Wednesday that the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan was unchanged this week from a record low 2.72%. A year ago, the benchmark rate was 3.68%. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans stayed at 2.28%. It was 3.15% a year ago. Interest rates have fallen this year as the virus batters the economy and the Federal Reserve pours money into the financial system to support a recovery. Low rates have encouraged Americans to buy homes or refinance existing mortgages.

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The S&P 500 fell 5.76 points, or 0.2%, to 3,629.65. The Dow gave up 173.77 points, or 0.6%, to 29,872.47. The Nasdaq gained 57.62 points, or 0.5%, to 12,094.40. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 8.51 points, or 0.5%, to 1,845.02.

The Associated Press