Wednesday, January 27, 2021 3:35 AM EST
By The Associated Press, AP
Asian shares mixed as focus turns to Federal Reserve meeting
UNDATED (AP) — Stocks are mixed in Asia as investors focus on the Federal Reserve policy meeting that ends today.
Shares rose in Hong Kong and Tokyo but fell in Seoul and Sydney. Shanghai was little changed.
Investors are weighing solid corporate earnings results against growing concerns over the pandemic. Many large companies are reporting this week from all parts of the economy, including American Express, Johnson & Johnson, Apple and General Electric.
On Tuesday, shares were mostly lower on Wall Street, with the benchmark S&P 500 losing 0.1%. The Fed is expected to keep its extremely supportive policy stance unchanged given the slow progress in vanquishing the pandemic.
AP sources: Biden to pause oil and gas sales on public lands
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands and waters, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment and address climate change.
Two people with knowledge of Biden’s plans outlined the proposed moratorium, which will be announced today. The move follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters announced last week and follows Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and water as part of his plan to address climate change.
Biden to reopen ‘Obamacare’ markets for COVID-19 relief
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Joe Biden plans to reopen the HealthCare.gov insurance markets for a special sign-up opportunity geared to people needing coverage in the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is expected to sign an executive order Thursday.
Although the number of uninsured Americans has grown because of job losses due to the economic hit of COVID-19, the Trump administration resisted calls to authorize a “special enrollment period” for people uninsured in the pandemic. Failure to repeal and replace “Obamacare” as he repeatedly vowed to do was one of former President Donald Trump’s most bitter disappointments. His administration continued trying to find ways to limit the program or unravel it entirely. A Supreme Court decision on Trump’s final legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act is expected this year.
Department store chain Belk filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina-based department store chain Belk says it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Charlotte Observer reports that private equity firm Sycamore Partners made the announcement on Tuesday.
The firm owns Belk and says it will continue with “normal operations” as it goes through bankruptcy. Sycamore Partners says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of February.
The 133-year-old chain grew from the opening of a store in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1888. The Belk family sold the chain for $3 billion in 2015. Belk has more than 20,000 employees at its nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states.
Levi’s first home collection deepens Target relationship
NEW YORK (AP) — Jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. is deepening its partnership with Target Corp. by launching its first-ever home collection at the discount chain. Levi’s limited time only 100-item collection of denim-inspired tableware, quilts, pillows and other items will launch on Target’s website and most Target stores on Feb. 28.
Target started selling low-price brand Denizen from Levi’s in 2011 and then began carrying its premium Red Tab brand in 2019. It will be expanding that brand to 500 stores by fall of this year. The move is yet another blow to department stores, which have been struggling even more during the pandemic. Still, Levi’s CEO says the company has no plans to permanently expand into home.
Starbucks’ recovery, solid in China, still slow in the US
UNDATED (AP) — Starbucks’ recovery slowed at the end of last year as U.S. coronavirus cases mounted. But the coffee giant says it’s confident its U.S. business will fully recover by March.
The Seattle-based company said Tuesday that its sales at stores opened at least a year fell 5% in the October-December period. That was an improvement from the prior quarter, but still a bigger decline than Wall Street was expecting. Starbucks also fell short of revenue forecasts.
The company reported sales of $6.7 billion in its fiscal first quarter. Starbucks said its business has fully recovered in China, but its U.S. business is still impacted by lower store traffic.
Walgreens taps Starbucks exec Brewer as its new CEO
UNDATED (AP) — Walgreens has tapped Starbucks executive Roz Brewer as its new CEO, which will make her the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company.
Brewer will take over as Walgreens CEO on March 15 after a little more than three years as Starbucks’ chief operating officer.
Brewer succeeds Stefano Pessina, who will transition to executive chairman of Walgreens’ board. Pessina praised Brewer’s expertise in operations, customer relations, talent development and digital innovation. Brewer is also the former president and CEO of Sam’s Club.
Walmart to build more robot-filled warehouses at stores
NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is enlisting the help of robots to keep up with a surge in online orders.
The company says it plans to build warehouses at its stores where self-driving robots will fetch groceries and have them ready for shoppers to pick up in less than an hour.
Walmart declined to say how many of the warehouses it will build, but construction has started at stores in Lewisville, Texas; Plano, Texas; American Fork, Utah; and Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart’s corporate offices are based.
Walmart hopes the warehouses will speed up curbside pickups. Both options became increasingly popular last year as virus-weary shoppers avoided going inside stores.