White House grades states’ infrastructure as it pushes bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden wants Congress to know he’s sincere about cutting a deal on infrastructure. But the White House is also highlighting needed repairs and upgrades state-by-state that cost far more than what Republicans are willing to spend. Biden met Monday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers as his White House released state-by-state breakdowns to make the case for the $2.3 trillion proposal. The reports show there are 7,300 miles of Michigan highway in poor condition. Damaged streets in North Carolina impose an average yearly cost of $500 on motorists. Biden’s team is making a direct argument for Congress to put their constituents ahead of their ideologies. Republican lawmakers say just a fraction of the spending goes to traditional infrastructure.
Time to party? Events industry still uncertain about COVID
NEW YORK (AP) — Although weddings and other big celebrations are going back on the calendar in the U.S., business owners who make those events happen expect a slow recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Owners say inquiries and bookings are picking up, but no one knows yet what kind of restrictions there’ll be on the size of gatherings, and whether traditions like cocktail hours and dancing will be be limited. Event planners and venue operators say it’s not just government restrictions — many people are still uneasy about large gatherings. Even bridal shop owners see caution — couples aren’t planning weddings with 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Biden tells execs US needs to invest, lead in computer chips
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden used a virtual meeting with corporate leaders about a global shortage of semiconductors to push for his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. He says the U.S. should be the world’s computer chip leader. Speaking Monday, Biden told the group of 19 executives from the technology, chip and automotive industries that the country hasn’t made big investments to stay ahead of global competitors. He said China and the rest of the world aren’t waiting to invest. Biden made an appearance at the meeting between administration officials and company leaders held to discuss building a stronger U.S. computer chip supply chain.
Drivers wanted: Record demand at Uber as vaccinations rise
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers as it faces record demand for rides and meal delivery. The San Francisco ride-hailing company said Monday that total monthly bookings, including food delivery and passenger service, reached an all-time high in March. In a government filing, the company said demand for ride-hailing, which plunged during coronavirus lockdowns last year, has recovered more quickly than expected as daily COVID-19 vaccinations exceed 3 million per day in the U.S. Passenger bookings reached the highest level since last March, when spiking infection rates began to shut the country down.
Stocks end slightly below latest record highs as tech slips
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended just below the latest record highs they hit last week as technology companies slipped. The S&P 500 edged down less than 0.1% Monday and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gave up 0.4%. Investors are continuing to focus on the economic recovery as well as concerns about inflation and rising bond yields. Big banks will be in focus as several of them report their latest quarterly earnings in the middle of the week. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo report on Wednesday, while Bank of America and Citigroup report on Thursday. Nuance Communications soared after Microsoft agreed to buy the speech technology company.
US budget deficit jumps to record $1.7 trillion this year
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government’s budget deficit surged to an all-time high of $1.7 trillion for the first six months of this budget year. That’s nearly double the previous record, as another round of economic-support checks added billions of dollars to spending last month. In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit for the first half of the budget year — from October through March — was up from a deficit of $743.5 billion for the same period a year ago. The budget report showed that the deficit for just March totaled $659.6 billion, the third-highest monthly deficit.
Microsoft buying speech recognition firm Nuance in $16B deal
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft, on an accelerated growth push, is buying speech recognition company Nuance in a cash deal worth $16 billion. Including debt, the companies value the transaction at $19.7 billion. Microsoft’s acquisition comes after the companies formed a partnership in 2019. Nuance’s products are used by the majority of U.S. physicians, radiologists and hospitals. It has been a pioneer in voice-based artificial intelligence technology and was instrumental in helping to power Apple’s digital assistant Siri. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called artificial intelligence technology’s most important priority and health care its most urgent application. The transaction is expected to close this year.
Chinese regulator orders Ant Group to conduct major overhaul
HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese regulators have ordered Alibaba Group Holding’s financial affiliate Ant Group to become a financial holding company that could be regulated more stringently. The authorities also ordered Ant to cease alleged anti-competitive behavior in its payments business. At a meeting on Monday, the People’s Bank of China and other financial regulators told Ant to reduce the balance of its money-market fund, and to stop any illegal credit, insurance or wealth-management activities. The guidance for Ant Group is part of a major overhaul for the company after regulators suspended a planned $34.5 billion IPO, citing regulatory changes, in November just days before its trading debut.
Stock Market Report
(AP) — The S&P 500 slipped 0.81 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,127.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.20 points, or 0.2%, to 33,745.40. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 50.19 points, or 0.4%, to 13,850. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 9.69 points, or 0.4%, to 2,233.78.