Business Highlights: Russian coal banned, tech lifts market – The Associated Press – en Español

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Fed casting its inflation fight as battle against inequality

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the Federal Reserve intensifies its efforts to tame high inflation, its top officials are casting their aggressive drive in a new light: As a blow against economic inequality. That thinking marks a sharp reversal from the conventional view of the Fed’s use of interest rates. Normally, the steep rate hikes that the Fed is planning for the coming months are seen as a particular threat to disadvantaged and lower-income households. Some of the most dovish Fed officials, who typically support low rates to nurture the job market, are now going out of their way publicly to point out ways in which inflation falls hardest on poorer Americans. Curbing high inflation, they argue, is a fairness issue.

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Europe agrees to ban Russian coal, but struggles on oil, gas

The European Union is banning Russian coal imports. It’s a big step because it’s the first time the 27-member European Union has shown willingness to touch energy supplies from Russia. And it will cost Russia some 4 billion euros a year. But that pales in comparison to the money Russia gets from oil and natural gas. Europe can get coal elsewhere, but a natural gas cutoff could lead to higher inflation, industrial shutdowns and a recession. Top EU officials say oil and gas are still on the table, but there’s no consensus for a boycott now. But gruesome pictures of bodies in Ukraine are keeping the debate going.

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Meta: Russian invasion driving more disinformation online

A report from Facebook owner Meta finds a big jump this year in disinformation and propaganda linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company, which also owns Instagram, says its review also has found an increase in domestic disinformation and propaganda in countries around the world, suggesting that the tactics pioneered by foreign intelligence organizations are now being used more widely for political and financial motives. Meta says it’s trying to stay one step ahead of groups trying to exploit its site, but executives at the company acknowledge their adversaries are adapting, too.

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Yellen calls for crypto regulation to reduce risks, fraud

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says more government regulation is needed to police the proliferation of cryptocurrency and other digital assets and to ward off fraudulent and illicit transactions. One result would be that users would get documentation of their crypto dealings for use in filing their taxes. Yellen is following up on an executive order that President Joe Biden signed on digital assets last month. The administration’s action follows several high-profile examples of alleged cryptocurrency laundering and fraud this year. In February, the Justice Department announced the seizure of more than $3.6 billion and the arrest of a couple accused of conspiring to launder billions of dollars in stolen cryptocurrency.

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Congress votes to suspend Russia trade status, enact oil ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has overwhelmingly voted to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban the importation of its oil, ratcheting up the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid reports of atrocities. House action came after the Senate approved the two bills with 100-0 votes. The measures now go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The trade bill paves the way for Biden to enact higher tariffs on certain Russian imports. The bill banning Russian oil would put into law restrictions Biden has largely already put in place through executive action.

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EXPLAINER: Russia is not a ‘most favored nation.’ What now?

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Congress voting to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban the importation of its oil, President Joe Biden’s action to tighten the U.S. squeeze on Russia’s economy now can intensify. The action by the House and Senate to revoke Moscow’s “most favored nation” trade status and ban oil imports intensifies the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid mounting reports of atrocities. Lawmakers showed overwhelming support for action striking at Russia’s economy. Last month Biden moved, with European and other key allies, to revoke Moscow’s normal trade status. He also has taken executive action to ban U.S. imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal.

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EU nations OK new Russia sanctions, including on coal

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union countries have approved new punishing sanctions against Russia, including an EU embargo on coal imports in the wake of evidence of torture and killings emerging from war zones outside Kyiv. The ban on coal imports will be the first EU sanctions targeting Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine and is estimated to be worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) per year, the EU presidency, held by France, announced Thursday. In the meantime, the EU has already started working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports. “The package is very substantial and extends sanctions against Russia to new sectors” and more oligarchs, the presidency said.

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Nations to release millions of barrels of oil amid war

PARIS (AP) — The International Energy Agency says its member countries are releasing 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves on top of previous U.S. pledges to take aim at energy prices that have soared since Russia invaded Ukraine. The Paris-based organization said Thursday that the new commitments made by its 31 member nations, which include the United States and much of Europe, amount to a total of 120 million barrels over six months. It’s the largest release in the group’s history. Half of that will come from the U.S. as part of the larger release from its strategic petroleum reserve that President Joe Biden announced last week.

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Tech rebound lifts stocks on Wall Street after early slide

Stocks recovered from an early slide and closed higher on Wall Street Thursday as investors weigh the latest update from the Federal Reserve amid concerns about rising inflation. The S&P 500 rose 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.1%. Health care and technology stocks helped lift the market. Retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending also rose. HP soared after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed an 11% stake in the company. Every major index is headed for a weekly loss. Crude oil prices edged lower and bond yields rose.

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McDonald’s investors will consider civil rights audit

McDonald’s investors will consider a proposal for a civil rights audit of the company. Shareholder advocacy group SOC Investment Group __ which successfully submitted a similar measure at Apple last month __ wants McDonald’s board to oversee a third-party audit that would analyze the company’s civil rights record and provide recommendations for improvement. McDonald’s objected, saying a public audit could hurt the company’s defense in several ongoing lawsuits. But the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said this week that the proposal should remain on McDonald’s proxy statement. McDonald’s hasn’t set a date for its next annual meeting, but they are usually held in May.

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The S&P 500 rose 19.06 points, or 0.4%, to 4,500.21. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 87.06 points, or 0.3%, to 34,583.57. The Nasdaq rose 8.48 points, or 0.1%, to 13,897.30. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.14 points, or 0.4%, to 2,009.80.

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