World stocks higher…US infrastructure gets a C-minus
BANGKOK (AP) – Stocks are higher in Europe and Asia after a wobbly day on Wall Street, when the S&P 500 gave back most of its gains from a day earlier. Germany’s DAX surged 0.9% today and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.8%. Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 1.2%. In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 2.7% higher. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 added 0.5%, while the Kospi in Seoul picked up 1.3% and the Shanghai Composite index advanced 2%. Dow and S&P futures are each up 0.7%.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – America’s infrastructure has scored near-failing grades for its deteriorating roads, public transit and storm water systems due to years of inaction from the federal government. That’s according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Its overall grade: a mediocre C-minus. In its “Infrastructure Report Card” released today, the group is calling for “big and bold” relief. It estimates it would cost $5.9 trillion over the next decade to bring roads, bridges and airports to a safe and sustainable level. That’s about $2.6 trillion more than what government and the private sector already spend.
LONDON (AP) – Britain’s treasury chief is expected to announce billions of pounds in tax cuts and spending increases to help workers and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic when he delivers his budget to Parliament today. Rishi Sunak says he will announced a three-part plan to “protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people” when he speaks to House of Commons. British media reports indicate Sunak will extend the furlough program, under which the government pays 80% of the wages for private employees unable to work during the pandemic. He also plans to expand grants for self-employed workers, while extending a temporary increase in welfare payments and tax relief for businesses.
MILAN (AP) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Peugeot have reported their last financial statements as independent companies, each contributing full-year profits of around 2 billion euros to the new company, Stellantis, formed in January. Fiat Chrysler reports adjusted net profits in the pandemic year of 1.9 billion euros, down by 57% from 3.4 billion in 2019. PSA Groupe, meanwhile, reports full-year earnings of 2.2 billion euros, down 32% from 2019’s 3.2 billion euros. The Italian-American carmaker and the French mass-market automotive company completed their merger on Jan. 16, creating Stellantis, the world’s fourth- largest carmaker.
PARIS (AP) – A Paris court is holding a hearing in a class-action effort to hold French health authorities and companies accountable after thousands of people with COVID-19 died in nursing homes. Today’s hearing is a first step in what is likely to be a years-long legal marathon. Families hope it shines light on what went wrong last year as the virus devastated France’s oldest generation and deprived their children and grandchildren of a chance to help or to say goodbye. The hearing involves a special measure to demand access to documents involving decisions made at nursing homes.