Business Highlights: May inflation, stock market woes

June 10, 2022 GMT

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US inflation at new 40-year high as price increases spread

WASHINGTON (AP) — The prices of gas, food and most other goods and services jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs. Consumer prices surged 8.6% last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year increase of 8.3%. The new inflation figure, the biggest yearly increase since December 1981, will heighten pressure on the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates aggressively. On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1% from April to May, fueled by prices for food, energy, rent, airline tickets and and new and used cars.

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Stocks dive to another losing week as inflation worsens

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s shuddering realization that inflation got worse last month, not better as hoped, sent markets reeling on Friday. The S&P 500 sank 2.9% to lock in its ninth losing week in the last 10. Tumbling bond prices sent Treasury yields to their highest levels in years. Wall Street took Friday’s worse-than-expected reading on inflation to mean the Fed’s foot will remain firmly on the brake for the economy. That dashes hopes that it may ease up later this year. A report on consumer sentiment was also much worse than expected, adding to the worries.

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Small businesses are facing ‘summer of uncertainty’

NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses that depend on outdoor crowds and free-spending tourists aren’t sure what to expect this summer. Consumers likely have a lot of pent-up demand after more than two years of the pandemic. The U.S. Travel Association predicts travel spending will be slightly above pre-pandemic levels. But consumers are also facing some significant financial headwinds. Inflation is making day-to-day living more expensive, which could leave less money for discretionary spending. Gas prices are up more than 60% from a year ago and hotel rooms and airfare are pricier as well, putting pressure on travel budgets. And COVID-19 remains a looming presence.

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Biden vows to battle inflation as prices keep climbing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Inflation keeps getting the better of the U.S. economy — and of President Joe Biden’s administration. It’s a problem that’s eluded Biden’s policy tweaks, deals brokered with the private sector, infrastructure spending and regulatory actions. He’s vowing to keep fighting in a speech at the Port of Los Angeles. The port moved to round-the-clock operations last October with an agreement the White House helped to shepherd. The Democratic president’s Friday speech overlapped with the release of the consumer price index for May. The report says prices rose 8.6% from a year ago, the worst increase in more than 40 years.

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White supremacists are riling up thousands on social media

WASHINGTON (AP) — White nationalists and supremacists are building thriving, macho communities across social media platforms like Instagram, Telegram and TikTok. The accounts are using coded hashtags and innuendo to rile up thousands of followers on divisive issues like abortion and recent mass shootings. Those are the issues the department of Homeland Security warned Tuesday might drive some extremists to violently attack public places across the U.S. The heightened concern comes just weeks after a white 18-year-old who claims he was radicalized on internet chatrooms entered a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, with the goal of killing Black patrons. He gunned down 10.

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US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights. The moved eases one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A senior administration official says the mandate expires Sunday. The official says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the mandate is no longer necessary. The official said Friday the CDC will reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges. Airline and tourism groups had been pressing the administration to eliminate the testing requirement.

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Ship owners sought CO2 exemption when the sea gets too wavy

The marine shipping industry is facing new regulations to address carbon pollution and documents show the industry is fighting back. Its trade groups have been seeking exemptions for pollution emitted during voyages on rough seas. These exemptions would have applied almost a third of the time on the Atlantic Ocean, leaving much of their emissions unaccounted for. Now the International Maritime Organization has rejected that effort. Cargo ship owners argued that rougher seas mean more fuel burned, and it’s unfair to treat similar ships traveling on different oceans differently. The international regulatory fray comes as President Joe Biden pushes for net zero emissions from shipping by 2050, instead of the current target of halving emissions.

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Russia’s central bank cuts interest rates to prewar level

Russia’s central bank has cut interest rates back to their prewar levels. The bank said Friday that inflation and economic activity are developing better than expected despite sweeping Western sanctions imposed in response to the war in Ukraine. The bank lowered its key rate by 1.5 percentage points, to 9.5%. The rate had been as high as 20% in the wake of the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions that restrict dealings with Russian banks, individuals and companies. Economists say that over time the sanctions will corrode growth and productivity, but the central bank has managed to stabilize Russia’s currency and financial system through drastic measures. ___

The S&P 500 lost 116.96 points, or 2.9%, to 3,900.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 880 points, or 2.7%, to 31,392.79. The Nasdaq shed 414.20 points, or 3.5%, to 11,340.02. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 50.57 points, or 2.7%, to 1,800.28.