Update on the latest in business:
Stocks tumble on virus worries
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are tumbling on Wall Street and around the world amid worries that the worsening pandemic will mean more restrictions on businesses and drag down the economy.
The S&P 500 was down 2.5% in afternoon trading, after earlier tumbling as much as 3.1%. The index is headed for a third straight loss. It’s already down 4.6% this week and threatening to post its biggest weekly fall since March.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was nearly 700 points lower, or 2.5%, and the Nasdaq composite slumped 2.8%.
Markets were dropping even more sharply in Europe, where investors are bracing for more restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
Crude oil prices were falling, and Treasury yields fell again.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-ELI LILLY
US to buy initial antibody doses from Eli Lilly
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government has agreed to buy initial doses of an experimental COVID-19 antibody drug from Eli Lilly that patients could receive if federal regulators allow it on an emergency basis.
Lilly has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow use of the drug in mild to moderately ill patients, based on partial results from a mid-stage study suggesting it may help them clear the virus sooner. There were hints the drug might help avoid hospitalization, but more study is needed. Earlier this week, the government stopped a study of Lilly’s drug in hospitalized patients after it seemed the drug was not helping those more seriously ill patients.
Under the agreement, the government will spend $375 million to buy 300 million vials of the drug. How many doses that would provide is unclear.
German officials agree on partial lockdown to curb virus
BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel says German officials have agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors agreed on the partial lockdown in a videoconference on Wednesday. It is set to take effect on Monday and last until the end of November. Merkel said, “We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.” Shops and schools are to remain open, unlike during Germany’s shutdown during the first phase of the pandemic in March and April. Restaurants will be able to provide take-out food.
The World Health Organization says the European region that it defines as including Russia, Turkey, Israel and Central Asia accounted for almost half of the 2.8 million new confirmed coronavirus cases last week. It said virus-related deaths rose almost 35% in Europe.
Deeper job cuts at Boeing as pandemic throttles air travel
UNDATED (AP) — Boeing will cut more jobs as it continues to lose money and revenue during a pandemic that has smothered demand for new airline planes. The company says it expects to cut its workforce to about 130,000 employees by the end of next year, down 30,000 from the start of this year. That is far deeper than the 19,000 reduction that the company announced three months ago. Boeing is updating its plans for jobs on the same day it’s reporting a $449 million loss for the third quarter, a swing from the $1.17 billion it earned in the same period last year. The loss was narrower than analysts expected, however. Revenue tumbled 29% to $14.14 billion.
Brown trucks everywhere as world shelters, UPS has a big 3Q
ATLANTA (AP) — UPS says profits and revenue surged in its most recent quarter. With so many people getting what they need delivered to the front door, the consolidated average daily volume at UPS jumped 13.5%. Profit jumped 12% to $1.96 billion in the third quarter, or $2.24 per share. Per-share earnings with unusual items removed were $2.28, which is 42 cents more than Wall Street had expected. Its revenue of $21.24 billion also easily topped analyst projections.
General Electric’s 3Q adjusted profit surprises Wall Street
UNDATED (AP) — General Electric narrowed its losses in its third quarter as it trimmed expenses and managed to post an adjusted profit that surprised Wall Street. GE lost $1.19 billion, or 14 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. A year earlier the Boston-based company lost $9.47 billion, or 15 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time costs and asset impairment costs, were 6 cents per share. That beat the expectations of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research, who were calling for a loss of 6 cents per share.
Microsoft says Iranian hackers targeted conference attendees
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft says Iranian hackers have posed as conference organizers in Germany and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to break into the email accounts of “high-profile” people with spoofed invitations. The tech company said Wednesday it detected attempts by the hacking group it calls Phosphorus to trick former government officials, policy experts and academics. The targets included more than 100 prominent people invited by the hackers to the Munich Security Conference, which is attended by world leaders each February, and the upcoming Think 20 Summit, which begins later this week in Saudi Arabia but is happening online-only this year.
CONGRESS-SOCIAL MEDIA CEOS
Social media CEOs get earful on bias, warning of new limits
WASHINGTON (AP) — With next week’s election looming, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are being scolded by Republicans at a Senate hearing for alleged anti-conservative bias in the companies’ social media platforms. And the CEOs are being put on notice about potential restrictions that may be coming. Some lawmakers are looking to challenge the companies’ long-enjoyed bedrock legal protections for online speech. Sen. Roger Wicker says “the time has come for that free pass to end.” The Mississippi Republican heads the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and says the laws governing online speech must be updated because “the openness and freedom of the internet are under attack.”
SOCIAL MEDIA-RULES-SECTION 230
All about Section 230, a rule that made the modern internet
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today. Under the law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act provides a legal “safe harbor” for internet companies. But both Republicans and Democrats argue that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity. Section 230 probably can’t be easily dismantled. But if it were, the internet as we know it might cease to exist.
Italian regulator investigates Google over digital ads
ROME (AP) — Italian regulators opened an investigation Wednesday into Google over alleged abuse of its dominant role in the country’s online ad market, adding to the global scrutiny that the Silicon Valley company is facing. The Italian Competition Authority said it suspects the U.S. tech giant of using the vast amounts of data it collects through its various services to prevent rivals in the digital advertising market from competing effectively. The watchdog said it carried out a joint inspection of Google’s offices with Italian tax police on Tuesday. Google said it would work constructively with Italian authorities.
Amazon launches Swedish site in 1st leg of Nordic expansion
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Amazon has launched a website in Sweden as the first leg of a long-anticipated expansion into the tech-savvy Nordic region that is expected to have a major long-term impact on brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce. The U.S. e-commerce giant said Wednesday that Swedish customers can shop for more than 150 million products in 30 categories on amazon.se. Customers from Sweden and other Nordic countries have until now shopped on Amazon using the company’s German and U.K. sites. Nordic news outlets earlier reported that Amazon was building a logistics center west of Stockholm. Once the center is completed, the company is expected to launch local sites in Denmark, Finland and Norway.
ELDER FRAUD-MAGAZINE SCAM
60 charged in $300M phone scam targeting elderly victims
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sixty people are charged in a widespread magazine telemarketing scam that authorities say netted $300 million from more than 150,000 elderly and vulnerable people nationwide. Minnesota U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald announced the charges Wednesday. She called it the largest elder fraud scheme in the country. The defendants are from 14 states and two Canadian provinces. Court documents say that over the last 20 years, they used a network of fake magazine sales companies and telemarketing call centers to trick people into making large or repeat payments. Prosecutors say the companies operated in Minnesota, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, California, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Arkansas.
Toyota adds 1.5M vehicles to US recall for engine stalling
DETROIT (AP) — Toyota is adding 1.5 million U.S. vehicles to recalls from early this year to fix fuel pumps that can fail and cause engines to stall. The company says the latest recall brings the total to 3.3 million Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles that need to be repaired. The recall affects more than 40 vehicles dating to 2013, covering much of the Toyota and Lexus model lineup. Toyota said Wednesday the fuel pumps can suddenly stop operating, and that can cause the vehicles to stall. Drivers may not be able to restart them. A message was left seeking comment from Toyota about whether there have been any crashes or injuries. Toyota and Lexus dealers will replace the pumps at no cost to customers.
VW recalls Jettas to fix fuel leaks that can cause fires
DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen is recalling more than 218,000 Jetta sedans in the U.S. to fix a fuel leak problem that can cause fires. The recall covers certain cars from the 2016 through 2018 model years. Volkswagen says in documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators that bolts holding some high-pressure tubing can come loose, allowing fuel to leak. The automaker hasn’t figured out how it will fix the problem, but it will start notifying owners around Dec. 20. Affected vehicles have engines built from June 18, 2015 to Dec. 9, 2017. The documents don’t say if there have been any fires, but they mention an unspecified number of claims. They say that owners could smell fuel or see leaks. VW says it’s not aware of any fires. Owners should contact a dealer if they smell fuel.
Tupperware is partying like it’s 1965
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Tupperware relied on social gatherings for explosive growth in the mid-20th century. In the 21st century, it is social distancing that is fueling sales. Restaurant pain has turned into Tupperware’s gain with millions of people in a pandemic opening cookbooks again and looking for solutions to leftovers. They’ve found again in Tupperware, suddenly an “it brand” five decades after what seemed to be its glory days.
The company had appeared to be on life support, posting negative sales growth in five of the last six years, a trend that seemed to be accelerating this year. Then the pandemic struck. On Wednesday, Tupperware reported that its profit had more than quadrupled in the most recent quarter.
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