Asian shares mixed…AstraZeneca: COVID shot for all ages
TOKYO (AP) – Asian shares were mixed today as sentiment was shaken by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would end some emergency measures put in place last year to help the financial industry deal with the pandemic. Japan’s Nikkei dropped 2.1%, South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite jumped 1.1%.
NEW YORK (AP) – The new head of the Small Business Administration says she expects to make changes at the agency that she says will enable it to further help small companies devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with The Associated Press two days after her swearing-in, Isabella Casillas Guzman says her immediate focus is implementing small business provisions in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package President Joseph Biden signed into law last week. But Guzman also foresees changes in the SBA’s loan programs and upgrades in its technology that ultimately will help companies. She’s hoping for feedback from business owners to help set the agency’s agenda.
LONDON (AP) – AstraZeneca says advanced trial data from a U.S. study on its COVID vaccine shows it is 79% effective. The U.S. study comprised 30,000 volunteers, 20,000 of whom were given the vaccine while the rest got dummy shots. The drugmaker also says the vaccine provided strong protection against sickness and eliminated hospitalizations and deaths across all age groups. The early findings from the U.S. study are just one set of information AstraZeneca must submit to the Food and Drug Administration. While the AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorized in more than 50 countries worldwide, it has not yet been approved in the U.S.
TOKYO (AP) – Japanese prosecutors have charged two Americans in connection with the escape of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn to Lebanon. Tokyo District Prosecutors have been questioning Michael Taylor and his son Peter since they were extradited from the United States earlier this month. They have been detained at a Tokyo detention center since March 2. Prosecutors said the Taylors were formally charged today with helping a criminal escape. The prosecutors had been seeking their extradition for months after they were arrested and detained in the U.S. last May. The Taylors were not immediately available for comment. In Japan’s criminal system, more than 99% of suspects are found guilty.
VERSAILLES, France (AP) – Ikea’s French subsidiary and several of its executives are scheduled to go on trial today over accusations that they illegally spied on employees and customers. Trade unions reported the furniture and home goods company to French authorities in 2012, accusing it of collecting personal data by fraudulent means and the illicit disclosure of personal information. The unions specifically alleged that Ikea France had paid to gain access to police files that had information about targeted individuals. Ikea France denied spying on anyone, but Sweden-based Ikea fired four executives in France after French prosecutors opened a criminal probe in 2012.