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Business Highlights: Wage theft, Facebook to decide on Trump

Last Updated May 4, 2021 at 4:03 pm PDT


How companies rip off poor employees — and get away with it

U.S. companies that cheat their workers out of pay are unlikely to be fined or punished even after they’re caught. A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Labor Department data found that in 2019, 8,500 employers were cited for taking about $287 million from workers. Companies that hire child care workers, gas station clerks and restaurant servers were among the businesses most likely to get caught. The analysis found, however, that the government rarely penalized repeat offenders and often let companies pay workers back less than they owe. Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative newsroom based in Washington, analyzed data from October 2005 through September 2020 that included all cases in which the Labor Department determined there were minimum wage or overtime violations.


Facebook board’s Trump decision could have wider impacts

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Since the day after the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump’s social media accounts have been silent — muzzled for inciting violence using the platforms as online megaphones. On Wednesday, his fate on the biggest platform, Facebook, will be decided. The social media giant’s quasi-independent Oversight Board will announce its ruling around 9 a.m. ET. If it rules in Trump’s favour, Facebook has seven days to reinstate the account. If the board upholds Facebook’s decision, Trump will remain “indefinitely” suspended. Either decision could lead to major repercussions for U.S. politics and regulation of social media.


Bill and Melinda Gates divorce could shake up philanthropy

NEW YORK (AP) — As much as billionaire couple Bill and Melinda Gates want to keep their pending divorce private, the split is already sending shockwaves through the worlds of philanthropy and public health. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of nearly $50 billion and donates about $5 billion annually to causes around the world. In a statement following the Gates’ divorce announcement on Twitter, the foundation said they would remain co-chairs and trustees and that no changes in the organization were planned. Experts note any changes that might happen because of the split would be incremental, but some worry the divorce might affect the foundation’s future plans.


Technology shares sink broader market although Dow has gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing lower on Wall Street Tuesday, dragged down by big technology companies like Apple and Microsoft. The declines marked the sixth straight losing day for technology stocks. Investors continue to focus on corporate earnings and gauge the economic recovery’s progress. Earnings and most economic indicators have been signalling steady improvement, but investors remain concerned about the lingering threat from COVID-19, inflation and other factors that could crimp progress. The S&P 500 index fell 0.7% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped 1.9%, while the Dow eked out a small gain. The price of oil rose while bond yields slipped slightly.


US trade deficit hits record $74.4 billion in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit surged to a record $74.4 billion in March as an improving U.S. economy boosted purchases of imported foreign goods. The Commerce Department reported that the March deficit was 5.6% higher than the February gap of $70,5 billion. The trade deficit is the gap between what America buys from abroad and what it sells to other countries. Imports rose 6.3% to $274.5 billion while exports increased 6.6% to $200 billion. The U.S. imports so much more than it exports that in dollar terms, the rise in imports was greater. The politically sensitive deficit with China in goods rose 11.6% to $27.7 billion, as usual, the largest deficit with any single country.


Pfizer’s posts $4.9B 1Q profit as vaccine strategy pays off

NEW YORK (AP) — Selling vaccines during a pandemic has boosted Pfizer’s bottom line and proven that a strategy it embarked upon over a decade ago is now paying off handsomely. The New York-based pharmaceutical giant earned $4.9 billion in the first three months of the year and dramatically raised its profit forecast for all of 2021 thanks to strong demand for its COVID-19 vaccine. The company, along with its German partner BioNTech, anticipate strong revenue from the vaccine and booster shots for the next three years. Once viewed as a marketing machine for blockbuster treatments such as Viagra and Lipitor, Pfizer has transformed itself into a powerhouse for delivering drugs that treat cancer, rare diseases — and vaccines.


Gap to sell Intermix clothing chain to private equity firm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gap Inc. has signed a deal to sell the upscale clothing chain Intermix to private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners. Gap said Tuesday that Altamont Capital intends to acquire the entire Intermix business, including all store leases, e-commerce and assets. It didn’t disclose the purchase price. The move comes as Gap is trying to slim down its portfolio of brands to better focus on its namesake business as well as Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. Last month, Gap completed a deal to sell Janie and Jack, a children’s clothing chain to Go Global Retail, a company that invests in fashion and consumer brands.


The S&P 500 fell 28 points, or 0.7%, to 4,164.66. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 19.80, or 0.1%, to 34,133.03. The Nasdaq fell 261.61 points, or 1.9%, to 13,633.50. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 29.17 points, or 1.3% to 2,248.29.

The Associated Press