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Business HIGHLIGHTS

Exacerbated by pandemic, child care crisis hampers economy

SEATTLE (AP) — The pandemic has made clear what many experts had long warned: The absence of reliable and affordable child care limits the jobs people can accept, makes it harder to climb the corporate ladder and ultimately restricts the ability of the broader economy to grow. Now, each caretaker resignation, coronavirus exposure and day care center closure reveals an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economy’s workforce. It remains to be seen what survives in the brutal negotiations in Congress for President Joe Biden’s broad family services agenda, but the pandemic is proving to be a make-or-break catalyst for the future of the child care industry.

Stocks end lower on Wall Street, easing back from records

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks faded in the last hour of trading and ended mostly lower Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average set their latest record highs. Several big technology companies posted solid gains, led by Microsoft, which reported a 24% surge in profits last quarter as its cloud computing business bounded ahead. The S&P 500 gave up 0.5% after shedding an early gain and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7%. The Nasdaq ended little changed. Encouraging earnings helped lift several companies, including McDonald’s. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53%. Oil prices fell.

McDonald’s sales surged 14% as virus restrictions eased

CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s has reported stronger-than-expected sales in the third quarter, boosted by larger orders and higher prices on the menu. Revenue jumped 14% to $6.2 billion in the July-September period. That beat Wall Street’s forecast of $6 billion. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 12.7% as coronavirus restrictions eased in most markets. Wall Street had expected a 10% increase. McDonald’s net income rose 22% to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Per-share earnings of $2.86 also beat analysts’ forecast of $2.46.

Retail trade group: holiday sales could set new record

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects that holiday sales gain could shatter last year’s record-breaking season even as a snarled global supply chain slows the flow of goods and results in higher prices for a broad range of items. The trade group said Wednesday that it predicts sales for the November and December period will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% to $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Holiday sales increased 8.2% in 2020 compared with the previous year when shoppers, locked down during the early part of the pandemic, splurged on pajamas and home goods, mostly online

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