Dow Today – Omicron, Pooh and jumpy financial markets to end 2021
Stocks end 2021 on a weak note, still notch big yearly gain
Wall Street ended 2021 on a weak note Friday, but still managed to end the year with big gains. The S&P 500 slipped 0.3%. It wound up with a yearly gain of 26.9%, nearly as big as its gain two years ago, just before the pandemic set in. The S&P 500 notched its latest record high on Wednesday, its 70th of the year. Company profits came in strong this year as the eonomy reopened, but the fast-spreading omicron variant and the looming end of the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policies are overhangs for investors going into the new year.
Wave of canceled flights from omicron closes out 2021
More canceled flights frustrated air travelers on the final day of 2021 and appeared all but certain to inconvenience hundreds of thousands more over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Airlines blamed many of the cancellations on crew shortages related to the spike in COVID-19 infections, along with wintry weather in parts of the United States. By early afternoon Friday on the East Coast, airlines had scrubbed more than 1,400 U.S. flights — about 6% of all scheduled flights — and roughly 2,900 worldwide, according to tracking service FlightAware. That pushed the total U.S. cancellations since Christmas Eve above 9,000, with the peak of 1,520 on Dec. 26.
1 in 15 people in London likely has COVID-19
New figures from Britain’s official statistics body estimate that about 1 in 25 people in private households in England had COVID-19 in the week before Christmas, as the highly transmissible omicron variant spread rapidly across the country. The Office for National Statistics said Friday that number jumped from 1 in 45 in the previous week. The figure was even higher in London, where officials said around 1 in 15 people was likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week up to Dec. 23. One in 25 is the equivalent of about 2 million people with coronavirus in England. That’s the highest number since the statistics body began estimating infection levels in May 2020.
$15B from Gates, French Gates tops 2021 biggest gift list
It was a healthy year for big gifts to charitable causes in 2021, a year that saw one of the largest multibillion-dollar contributions in more than a decade, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy tally. The power philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced in May that they were divorcing and then gave a jaw-dropping $15 billion to their foundation in July. The money will bolster its endowment and support the grant maker’s work in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and U.S. education well into the future. The gift increased the grant maker’s endowment to about $65 billion.
Food disruptions feared in UK as new Brexit rules kick in
LONDON (AP) — New post-Brexit custom rules for goods arriving from the European Union to Britain are taking effect on Saturday. A leading food industry body has warned that the new border controls could lead to food shortages. Beginning Jan. 1, importers must make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK. from the EU or other countries. Businesses will no longer be allowed to delay completing full import customs declarations for up to 175 days. The British Frozen Food Federation says the new restrictions on animal and plant products from the EU could result in major delays at ports in the New Year. The UK. imports five times the amount of food it exports to the EU.
Europe’s shared notes and coins turn 20 at New Year’s
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — This New Year’s the European Central Bank is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the euro’s notes and coins. The physical euro was introduced on January 1, 2002, three years after the euro was adopted for noncash purposes by fixing its exchange rate to legacy national currencies. The occasion is being marked by a light display on the facade of the bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt. The euro has been through its ups and downs including a crisis over too much government and bank debt. But now the 19 member countries are taking a further step to connect their economies by borrowing together to fund their recovery from the pandemic.
France urges green habits with new car ads, bans on plastic
PARIS (AP) — French customers will be encouraged to adopt more environmentally friendly habits under a series of new regulations to take effect in 2022. Beginning Saturday, leeks and carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, apples and pears and about 30 other items will no longer be sold in plastic. Starting in March, French car ads will have to mention one of three messages urging people to use their cars less and walk or take public transit more. The measures promoted by President Emmanuel Macron’s government seek to reduce pollution and the impact of cars on greenhouse gas emissions. The government says the new regulation is expected to eliminate about 1 billion items of plastic waste per year.
‘Pooh,’ ‘Sun Also Rises’ among works going public in 2022
WASHINGTON (AP) — “Winnie the Pooh” and “The Sun Also Rises” are going public. A.A. Milne’s children’s book and Ernest Hemingway’s novel are among the works from 1926 whose copyrights will expire Saturday, putting them in the public domain in 2022. Poetry collections “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes and “Enough Rope” by Dorothy Parker will also turn 95, putting them in the public domain under U.S. law. The silent films “Battling Butler” starring Buster Keaton, “The Temptress” starring Greta Garbo, “The Son of the Sheik” starring Rudolph Valentino, and “For Heaven’s Sake” starring Harold Lloyd will also become public.
Chinese factory activity edges higher in December
BEIJING (AP) — A survey shows Chinese factory activity edged higher in December as supply disruptions eased and export demand weakened. The monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by the national statistics agency and an industry group gained to 50.3 from November’s 50.1 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity accelerating. Chinese manufacturing has been hampered by shortages of some components including semiconductors and disruptions in shipping. Some areas ordered factories to shut down temporarily starting in September to meet official energy efficiency targets.
The S&P 500 fell 12.55 points, or 0.3%, to 4,766.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59.78 points, or 0.2%, to 36,338.30. The Nasdaq fell 96.59 points, or 0.6%, to 15,644.97. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 3.48 points, or 0.2%, to 2,245.31.