Business Highlights: Banking system aid, Alaska oil project

Business Highlights: Banking system aid, Alaska oil project

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Government races to reassure US that banking system is safe

NEW YORK — Depositors withdrew savings, and investors broadly sold off bank shares as the federal government raced to reassure Americans that the banking system is secure following two bank failures. President Joe Biden insisted Monday that the system is safe after the second- and third-largest bank failures in the nation’s history happened in the span of 48 hours. In response to the crisis, regulators guaranteed all deposits at the two banks. They also created a program that effectively threw a lifeline to other banks to shield them from a run on deposits.

Bank stocks tumble; others rise on hopes for easier rates

NEW YORK — Bank stocks tumbled on worries about what’s next to break, following the second- and third-largest bank failures in U.S. history. But many other stocks rose Monday on hopes the bloodletting will force the Federal Reserve to take it easier on the hikes to interest rates that are shaking Wall Street and the economy. The S&P 500 fell 0.2% after clawing back most of an early drop of 1.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% and the Nasdaq rose 0.4%. Treasury yields plunged as investors scrambled for safety and expectations built for the Fed to ease up on rate hikes.

Biden OKs Alaska oil project, draws ire of environmentalists

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is approving a major oil-drilling project on Alaska’s petroleum-rich North Slope. The decision, announced Monday, is one of President Joe Biden’s most significant climate moves, and it brought quick condemnation from environmentalists who said it flies in the face of the Democratic president’s pledges. Climate activists say allowing oil company ConocoPhillips to move forward with the Willow drilling plan breaks Biden’s campaign promise to stop new oil drilling on public lands. ConocoPhillips says the project could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, a major advance for the nation.

Russia’s economy holds up, but growing challenges test Putin

Russia has weathered sweeping Western economic sanctions better than many expected. Economic life for everyday Russians hasn’t changed that much, with familiar imported goods either still available or replaced by local knockoffs. There’s no mass unemployment, shuttered banks or other signs of crisis. But President Vladimir Putin’s fortress economy faces an even tougher test in the months ahead. New sanctions are finally targeting the full scale of the Kremlin’s biggest moneymaker: oil exports. Some economists think that could mean a breaking point for government finances this year. And while the Kremlin may not run out of cash, it faces long-term stagnation without outside investment or Western technology.

US turns to new ways to punish Russian oligarchs for the war

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has begun an aggressive new push to inflict pain on Russia’s economy and especially its oligarchs with the intent of thwarting the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. US. officials say efforts will now focus on lawfully liquidating the property of Russian oligarchs, and expanding financial penalties on those who facilitate the evasion of sanctions. They also will seek to close loopholes in the law that allow oligarchs to move through the U.S. financial system through shell companies. A task force that enforces economic restrictions imposed on Russia and its billionaires is now prioritizing efforts to identify those who help Russians evade sanctions and violate export controls.

Pfizer buys Seagen for $43B, boosts access to cancer drugs

NEW YORK — Pfizer is spending about $43 billion to reach deeper into new cancer treatments that target tumor cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. The pharmaceutical giant said Monday it will pay $229 in cash for each share of Seagen Inc. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says his company then plans to let the biotech drug developer continue innovating, except with more resources than it would have alone. Seagen’s key products use lab-made proteins called monoclonal antibodies that seek out cancer cells to help deliver a cancer-killing drug while sparing surrounding tissue.

Macron faces crucial test amid anger over his pension plan

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is facing a crucial test this week as the battle over his unpopular plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 is set to reach a peak in the streets and at parliament. The 45-year-old pro-business centrist has put his legacy on the line with his pension reform. The plan is central to his vision for making the French economy more competitive. But he may have to force it through parliament which would damage his democratic credentials and further enrage those who are opposing it. France’s trade unions have called for an eighth round of nationwide protests on Wednesday.

German department store chain to shut 40% of its outlets

BERLIN — Germany’s last major department store chain has announced that it plans to close two-fifths of its branches, months after it filed for insolvency protection for the second time in less than three years. The long-troubled Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof plans to shut 52 of its current 129 stores in two phases, with the first closing down at the end of June and the rest at the end of January. It said Monday that about 4,000 employees at those stores will be affected, and that another 300 jobs will go at its headquarters in Essen and in other areas such as IT and facility management.

The S&P 500 slipped 5.83 points, or 0.2%, to 3,855.76. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 90.50 points, or 0.3%, to 31,819.14. The Nasdaq composite rose 49.96 points, or 0.4%, to 11,188.84. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 28.40 points, or 1.6%, to 1,744.30

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