World stocks higher…China blocks US airline flights
BEIJING (AP) – Global stocks and Wall Street futures have advanced after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said U.S. interest rates might be raised earlier than planned. London and Frankfurt opened higher. Shanghai and Tokyo also advanced. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.9% after Powell said policy “in all likelihood” will return to normal as bond purchases and other economic stimulus winds down. He said ultra-low rates might be raised earlier than planned if necessary to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. Investors have been trying to figure out how the world’s biggest economy and financial markets will react.
UNDATED (AP) – Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19’s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point cases may start dropping off dramatically. The reason: The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, says omicron is “going to come down as fast as it went up.”
UNDATED (AP) – China is blocking more than a dozen U.S. airline flights to the country because some passengers on recent flights tested positive for COVID-19. The move is the latest development in a dispute between the two countries over international flights and rules designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. China has been ratcheting up travel restrictions after recent outbreaks of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics next month.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Democrats have taken their first step toward creating a universal health care system. A legislative committee in the state Assembly advanced a bill on Tuesday that would replace California’s private insurance market with a plan paid for by the government. But the proposal is still a long way from becoming law. It faces strong opposition from the state’s powerful business interests. And even if it becomes law, voters will have to approve a massive income tax increase to pay for it.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) – Sweden’s government says it has earmarked some 6 billion kronor ($661 million) for a temporary plan to help the most affected households across the Scandinavian country cope with high electricity bills this winter. Some 1.8 million households will likely get help footing soaring bills. Sweden’s one-party, minority Social Democratic government is expected to get majority backing for the plan in the 349-seat Riksdag. Home owners in Sweden have already started adopting strategies to lower their consumption, such as turning down the heating and using alternative heat sources.