Biden open to compromise on infrastructure, but not inaction
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is drawing a red line on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. He says he is open to compromise on how to pay for the plan but inaction is unacceptable. The president turned fiery in a Wednesday afternoon speech, saying that the United States must build, invest and research for the future. Biden says failure to do so would amount to giving up on “leading the world.” Biden allowed that “compromise is inevitable.” He says the administration will be open to “good ideas in good faith negotiations.” But he added: “We will not be open to doing nothing.”
Biofuels producers, farmers not sold on switch to electric
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The president and the auto industry maintain the nation is on the cusp of a gigantic shift to electric vehicles and away from liquid-fueled cars, but biofuels producers and some of their supporters in Congress aren’t buying it. They argue the U.S. should increase sales of ethanol and biodiesel, not abandon them. President Joe Biden has proposed an infrastructure plan that includes increased funding to promote a shift to electric vehicles. Producers of corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel say that even if the U.S. dramatically increases sales of electric vehicles, liquid-fueled cars and trucks will make up a majority of vehicles on the road for many years.
Beyond the pandemic: London’s financial hub seeks a rebirth
LONDON (AP) — When the pandemic struck, about 540,000 workers vanished from London’s financial hub almost overnight. The area known as “the City” became a ghost town as many people began working from home. A year on, most haven’t returned to the business hub. While many people believe that post-pandemic workflow will become the new normal, skyscrapers are still rising, and city planners say they aren’t worried about empty office buildings. Rather, they say the uncertainties and changes are just a catalyst for the reinvention of one of the world’s top financial centers. A January report from the mayor’s office predicted that while companies won’t abandon the capital, many will need to improve their office space to encourage employees to return.
Major economies support $650 billion boost in IMF resources
WASHINGTON (AP) — Finance officials of the world’s major economies on Wednesday agreed on a proposal to boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund by $650 billion as a way to provide more support to vulnerable countries struggling to deal with a global pandemic. The Group of 20 major industrial countries issued a joint statement saying the increase in IMF resources would provide countries with greater resources to fight the pandemic. The increase in IMF resources, which will need approval from the IMF’s board and then contributions from member countries, received a boost earlier this year when it got the backing of the Biden administration. The resources are known as IMF Special Drawing Rights and create an asset that countries can use to bolster their own reserves.
Fed in March saw brighter outlook, yet underscored patience
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials were encouraged last month by evidence the economy was picking up. But they showed no sign of moving closer to ending their bond purchases or lifting their benchmark short-term interest rate from nearly zero. Fed policymakers also said they expect inflation will likely rise in the next few months because of supply bottlenecks. But they believe it will remain near their 2% target over the longer run. The views emerged in minutes taken during the central bank’s March 16 to 17 meeting. The minutes were released Wednesday after the customary three-week lag.
US stocks close mixed; S&P 500 notches another record high
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed mixed on Wall Street Wednesday, but gains for several Big Tech stocks nudged the S&P 500 to its second record high in three days. The benchmark index added 0.1% after a day of wobbling between gains and losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose slightly and the Nasdaq fell slightly. Markets have been steadying in recent days as investors become cautiously optimistic about the economic recovery. Vaccine distribution has been ramping up and President Joe Biden has bumped up his deadline for states to make doses available to all adults by April 19. Bond yields rose.
US trade deficit jumps 4.8% to $71.1 billion in February
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit grew to a record $71.1 billion in February as a decline in exports more than offset a slight dip in imports, with severe weather taking much of the blame from analysts who were expecting a slightly lower deficit. The coronavirus pandemic has stifled global trade for more than a year, but those barriers appear to be falling as millions of people get vaccinated and countries start easing operating restrictions for businesses. Total trade after two months of 2021 is just 1.8% behind where it was at this point last year, before the global economy was blindsided by the pandemic.
Stock Market Report
(AP) — The S&P 500 rose 6.01 points, or 0.1%, to 4,079.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 16.02 points, or 0.1%, to 33,446.26. The Nasdaq composite slipped 9.54 points, or 0.1%, to 13,688.84. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 36.10 points, or 1.6%, to 2,223.05.