Stocks mixed…yanking MFN from Russia
BANGKOK (AP) – Share benchmarks are mixed as uncertainty over the war in Ukraine and persistently high inflation holds sway over world markets. Stocks opened higher in Europe today after declines in Asia. Investors are fretting over how the world economy may struggle with price pressures and slowing growth. Stocks slipped on Wall Street Thursday, with the S&P 500 losing 0.4% just a day after benchmarks surged to their biggest gain since June 2020. Oil prices advanced today as Russian forces broadened their offensive in Ukraine, attacking two major cities to the west and an industrial center in the east of the country.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is announcing today that along with the European Union and the Group of Seven countries, the U.S. will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. That’s according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement. Stripping most favored nation status would allow the U.S. and allies to impose higher tariffs on some Russian imports. Biden’s move comes as bipartisan pressure has been building in Washington to revoke what is formally known as “permanent normal trade relations” with Russia.
WASHINGTON (AP) – A $1.5 trillion bipartisan package financing federal agencies and helping Ukraine is heading to President Joe Biden for his signature. The $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine includes money for weapons and equipment, for humanitarian aid for refugees and allied nations’ economies, and for the U.S. costs of buttressing its military presence in the region. Further funding for pandemic aid has been eliminated. However, earmarks – projects requested by members for their districts – have returned in a big way.
BEIJING (AP) – China’s No. 2 leader says the government hopes to generate as many as 13 million new jobs this year to help reverse a painful economic slump but faces “many difficulties and challenges.” Forecasters say the ruling Communist Party is likely to struggle to meet its official 5.5% economic growth target, the lowest since the 1990s. That would be down sharply from last year’s 8.1% expansion as China contends with a crackdown on business debt, the coronavirus, weak global export demand and high energy prices. Premier Li Keqiang promises “pro-job policies” including tax and fee cuts totaling $400 billion for businesses.
TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s top automaker Toyota is scaling back domestic production over the next three months because of a supply crunch in chips and other parts that have slammed the global auto industry. A company spokeswoman says vehicle production in Japan will be lower by about 20% in April, by 10% in May, and 5% in June, compared to what was planned. All the world’s automakers have been hit hard by production delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.