Business Highlights: Russia sanctions, Wall Street rebound – Associated Press

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Biden hits Russia with new sanctions, says Putin ‘chose’ war

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, charging that Russia’s Vladimir Putin “chose this war” and his country will bear the consequences. The sanctions target Russian banks, oligarchs, and high-tech sectors. The penalties fall in line with the White House’s insistence that it would look to hit Russia’s financial system and Putin’s inner circle, while also imposing export controls that would aim to starve Russia’s industries and military of U.S. semiconductors and other high-tech products. Biden, for now, is holding off imposing some of the most severe sanctions, including cutting Russia out of the international SWIFT bank payment system.

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Wall Street reels, then recovers after invasion of Ukraine

NEW YORK (AP) — Markets shuddered Thursday and then swung wildly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatened to push the high inflation squeezing the global economy even higher. Initially, stocks tumbled as prices surged for oil, wheat and other commodities on worries the conflict would disrupt global supplies. But the moves moderated as the day progressed, particularly after President Joe Biden said he wanted to limit the economic pain for Americans and announced new sanctions that fell short of what some had suggested. The S&P 500 tumbled 2.6% at the start of trading before flipping to a gain of 1.5%.

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Treasury: Most COVID rental aid went to low-income residents

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department concluded that more than 80% of the billions of dollars in federal rental assistance during the pandemic went to low-income tenants. It also concluded that the largest percentage of tenants receiving pandemic aid were Black households and that many were led by women. In the fourth quarter of 2021, Treasury found that more than 40% of tenants getting help were Black and 20% Latino while two-thirds were female-headed households. Lawmakers approved $46.5 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance last year. Through 2021, Treasury said over $25 billion has been spent or allocated which represents 3.8 million payments to households.

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Russia-Ukraine conflict raises big risks for global economy

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Just what a vulnerable world economy didn’t need — a conflict that accelerates inflation, rattles markets and portends trouble for everyone from European consumers to indebted Chinese developers and families in Africa that are enduring soaring food prices. Russia’s attack on Ukraine and retaliatory sanctions from the West may not portend another global recession. Yet the conflict is threatening to inflict severe economic damage for some countries and industries — damage that could mean hardships for the millions of people. Any escalation of the crisis could derail Europe’s economic recovery by sending already elevated energy prices ever higher.

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Justice Department sues UnitedHealth over nearly $8B deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are suing to block UnitedHealth Group’s purchase of the technology company Change Healthcare, a deal announced more than a year ago. The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that the proposed deal would hurt competition in markets for health insurance and technology used by insurers to process claims and cut costs. UnitedHealth said in January 2021 that it would spend nearly $8 billion in cash to add the company and boost its ability to provide data analytics and revenue cycle management support, among other offerings. A UnitedHealth spokesman said the company would defend its case vigorously.

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Rocky Mountain states to team up on hydrogen tech proposal

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The governors of four Rocky Mountain states say they will cooperate on developing ways to make hydrogen more available and useful as clean-burning fuel for cars, trucks and trains. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming announced Thursday they’ll plan a “hydrogen hub” to be built somewhere in the region. The project will draw from $8 billion in recently approved federal infrastructure funding for four or more such regional hubs in the U.S. The Western Inter-State Hydrogen Hub will have facilities in all four states under plans to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Fewest Americans collecting unemployment aid since 1970

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell to a 52-year low after another decline in jobless aid applications last week. Jobless claims fell by 17,000, from 249,000 to 232,000 for the week ending Feb. 19, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell by 7,250 to 236,250. In total, 1,476,000 Americans were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Feb. 5, a decrease of about 112,000 from the previous week and the lowest level since March 14, 1970, the government said.

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US slightly revises up its GDP estimate for Q4 to 7%

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy ended 2021 by expanding at a brisk 7% annual pace from October through December, the government reported in a slight upgrade from its earlier estimate. For all of 2021, the nation’s gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — jumped by 5.7%, the fastest calendar-year growth since a 7.2% surge in 1984 in the aftermath of a brutal recession. So far this year, though, the outlook for the economy has dimmed considerably in the face of accelerating inflation, higher borrowing rates, anxious financial markets and the likelihood of a serious military conflict caused by Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine.

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The S&P 500 gained 63.20 points, or 1.5%, to 4,288.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.07 points, or 0.3%, to 33,223.83. The Nasdaq advanced 436.10 points, or 3.3%, to 13,473.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies ended up 51.91 points, or 2.7%, to 1,996.

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