Wall Street joins worldwide slump
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is joining a worldwide slump for financial markets amid worries about how badly the omicron variant, inflation and other forces will hit the economy.
The S&P 500 was 1.8% lower in midday trading, following up on similar drops across Europe and Asia. Stocks of oil producers had the sharpest losses after the price of U.S. crude fell 6%.
Markets are also absorbing the potential death blow to a proposed $2 billion spending plan by the U.S. government, as well as the Federal Reserve’s momentous move last week to accelerate its exit from the tremendous support it’s providing the economy.
Biden boosts fuel-economy standards to fight climate change
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administration is raising vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases.
A final rule being issued today would raise mileage standards starting in the 2023 model year, reaching a projected industry-wide target of 40 miles per gallon by 2026.
The mileage rules are the most ambitious tailpipe pollution standards ever set for passenger cars and light trucks. Mileage goals set by the Trump administration would achieve only 32 miles-per-gallon in 2026.
The move comes a day after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin delivered a potentially fatal blow to Biden’s $2 trillion social and environmental policy bill, jeopardizing Democrats’ agenda and infuriating the White House.
EU approves 5th COVID-19 vaccine for bloc, one by Novavax
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The European Union’s executive commission has authorized a fifth COVID-19 vaccine for use in the 27-nation bloc. It gave the green light to the two-dose vaccine made by U.S. biotech company Novavax. The commission confirmed a European Medicines Agency recommendation to grant conditional marketing authorization for the vaccine for people aged 18 and over.
The decision comes as many European nations are battling surges in infections and amid concerns about the spread of the new omicron variant. Novavax says it currently is testing how its shots will hold up against the omicron variant. Much about omicron remains unknown including whether it causes more or less severe illness.
Biogen cuts the price tag on its Alzheimer’s drug in half
UNDATED (AP) — Biogen is slashing the price of its Alzheimer’s treatment months after the drug debuted to widespread criticism for an initial cost that can reach $56,000 annually.
The drugmaker says that starting in January it will cut the wholesale acquisition cost of the drug by about 50%. That means the annual cost for a person of average weight will amount to $28,200.
Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a statement that too many patients were not being offered the drug due to “financial considerations,” and their disease had progressed beyond the point where Aduhelm could help.
Oracle buys medical records company Cerner for $28 billion
UNDATED (AP) — Oracle is buying electronic medical records company Cerner in an all-cash deal valued at about $28.3 billion. Oracle will pay $95 per Cerner share.
Hospitals and physicians offices use Cerner software to record and share health and medical data. The companies said Monday that Cerner systems will become a unit of Oracle.
Shares of Oracle were down more than 3% in morning trading.
Pandemic again forces delay in plans for next Davos meeting
GENEVA (AP) — The World Economic Forum is again delaying its much-ballyhooed annual meeting of world leaders, business executives and other elites in Davos, Switzerland, amid new uncertainties about the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The forum, which repeatedly delayed, moved and finally canceled last year’s event, says the previously planned Jan. 17-21 gathering in the alpine town will now take place in “early summer” — without giving specifics. Founder Klaus Schwab said the forum still plans to host a “digital convening of leaders from business, government and civil society.” The forum said a “headline series of State of the World sessions” would bring them together online to address global challenges.
Starbucks vows good faith talks with 1st unionized store
NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks says it will negotiate in good faith with workers who’ve agreed to unionize in Buffalo, New York. In a bargain letter sent to all U.S. partners, Executive Vice President Rossann Williams said that the company hasn’t wanted unionization, but respects the legal process and wants to work with those in Buffalo who voted in favor of union representation.
‘Spider-Man’ swings even higher at North American box office
UNDATED (AP) — “Spider-Man: No Way Home” now holds the title for the second-biggest opening weekend ever, behind only “Avengers: Endgame.”
Sony Pictures says weekend grosses for the third Tom Holland led Spider-Man came in even higher than expected, netting out with $260 million from North America ticket sales. It’s also the best opening weekend ever for Spider-Man films, Sony Pictures and the month of December.
The stellar opening was a much-needed win for the theatrical exhibition business, which has struggled during the pandemic. Until “Spider-Man” came along, no film in the pandemic era had opened over $100 million.
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