World shares mixed…Lego sales surge
BEIJING (AP) – Global stocks are mixed today after Wall Street rose on a rally for major tech companies Tuesday. In early trading today, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.6%, Frankfurt’s DAX added 0.1% and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced less than 0.1%. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index ended less than 0.1% lower, the Kospi in Seoul lost 0.6%. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced less than 0.1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.5%. Wall Street futures are lower.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress is poised to approve a landmark $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. House passage seems certain, probably coming today. The bill aims to fulfill Democrats’ campaign promises to beat the pandemic and revive the enfeebled economy. The Senate returned a partly revamped version of the measure to the House last Saturday by a 50-49 vote. Republicans have unanimously opposed the measure as bloated and heedless of signs the dual crises are easing.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Relations between the European Union and recently departed Britain took another diplomatic dip when the EU envoy in London was summoned to explain comments that Britain had issued a vaccine export ban. The United Kingdom was so irate about Tuesday’s comments from EU Council President Charles Michel that Britain had “imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines,” that it called in the ambassador for a morning meeting. A British government statement said that it “has not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine. Any references to a UK export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false.”
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Greenpeace activists have landed on the roof of a European Central Bank building to protest the financial institution’s loans policy, which they say favors heavily polluting industries. Activists used paragliders to reach the roof of the reception building at the ECB’s Frankfurt headquarters early early this morning before unfurling their banner reading “Stop funding climate killers.” Greenpeace said a recent study showed the bank gives companies that produce large amounts of greenhouse gas better risk ratings. By contrast, it said climate-friendly industries are burdened with a greater margin between the market value of their assets and the value ascribed to it by the ECB. The central bank said it was reviewing its strategy.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark(AP) – Sales of Lego sets surged last year as more children stayed home during global pandemic lockdowns – and parents bought the colorful plastic brick toys to keep them entertained during days of isolation. The privately-held Danish company said its net profit rose 19% to 9.9 billion kroner ($1.6 billion) as sales jumped 21%. Lego seems to be one of the businesses – like online retailers and technology companies – that were well placed to earn money from the massive disruptions in society worldwide during the pandemic. Chief Executive Niels B. Christiansen told The Associated Press that the “super strong results” were thanks to strategic investments made years ago to move more sales online.