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AP Business SummaryBrief at 8:02 p.m. EDT

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Stocks slump 3% as worries grow over higher interest rates

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed sharply lower on Wall Street as worries grow in markets that the higher interest rates the Federal Reserve is using in its fight against inflation will derail the economy. The S&P 500 pulled back 3.6%, erasing a rally from a day earlier and marking its biggest loss in almost two years. The Dow fell 1,063 points, or 3.1%. Tech stocks fell the most, pulling the Nasdaq down 5%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.04%. Rising yields are sure to put upward pressure on mortgage rates, which are already at their highest level since 2009.

Major companies stay mum on thorny abortion issue - for now

NEW YORK (AP) — A leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would abolish a nationwide right to abortion has thrust major companies into what’s arguably the most divisive issue in American politics. But while some are signaling support for abortion rights, many want to stay out of it — at least for now. Some experts believe companies are holding off weighing in because they want to wait to see the court’s final ruling. But forming a corporate response on the thorny issue of abortion could prove to be challenging, especially in light of the reprisal that Disney faced in Florida and political pressure in states like Texas. 

Rising interest rates in US will hinder foreign economies

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the Federal Reserve raises interest rates — as it did Wednesday — the impact doesn’t stop with U.S. homebuyers paying more for mortgages or Main Street business owners facing costlier bank loans. The fallout can roll beyond America’s borders, hitting shopkeepers in Sri Lanka, farmers in Mozambique and others in poorer countries around the world. The managing director of the International Monetary Fund was worried enough last month to warn the Fed and other rate-hiking central banks to stay “mindful of the spillover risks to vulnerable emerging and developing economies.’’

Small businesses still struggle to find enough workers

NEW YORK (AP) — Some small businesses are still struggling to hire qualified workers, even as the broader picture in the U.S. job market looks much brighter. Hiring and retaining employees remains the top challenge for small businesses, according to a survey by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices. Ninety percent of businesses that are hiring are finding it difficult to recruit qualified candidates for open positions. Smaller businesses say they’re having trouble getting candidates to even apply for openings, particularly in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality industry. Owners are taking on more work themselves and improvising other ways to get by.  

Europeans weigh costs of cutting Russian energy over Ukraine

MILAN (AP) — Rising energy prices in Europe are testing the resolve of those caught between a dependence on cheap Russian energy and their revulsion at Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Governments are trying to replace Russian energy, mindful their regular payments are funding the invasion. The economic blow is falling increasingly on consumers and businesses. In the low-income neighborhoods of Milan, people seek help from the church in paying utility bills. A pipe-fitter who installs boilers in Hungary sees his profession directly affected by the war. A German glassmaker worries what the cutoff of Russian natural gas will mean for her company. A Bulgarian construction worker fears the blowback of more sanctions on once-close Moscow. 

OPEC+ opens oil taps gradually as Russian war roils markets

LONDON (AP) — OPEC and allied oil-producing countries are gradually increasing the amount of crude they send to the world. That decision Thursday comes even as Europe’s proposed phaseout of Russian oil threatens to yank millions of barrels off a global market already thirsty for crude. The cautious approach from the OPEC+ alliance — which includes non-member Russia — will exacerbate a global energy crunch. Prices are expected to rise further for oil and the gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel made from it. OPEC+ has stuck with its road map to gradually open the oil taps, agreeing to add 432,000 barrels per day in June.

Boeing will move its headquarters to DC area from Chicago

Boeing says it plans to move its corporate headquarters from Chicago to the Washington, D.C., area. The company made it official on Thursday. Boeing is a major defense contractor, so the move would put its executives close to customers in the Pentagon. It would also put them near the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates Boeing's business of building passenger airplanes. Boeing’s roots are in the Seattle area, and it has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2001 after an unusually public search that also considered Dallas and Denver. 

US mortgage rates rise; 30-year at 5.27%, highest since 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates resumed their ascent this week, as the key 30-year loan reached its highest point since 2009. The increases came in the week preceding the widely anticipated action by the Federal Reserve, announced Wednesday, to intensify its fight against the worst inflation in 40 years by raising its benchmark interest rate by a half-percentage point and signaling further large rate hikes to come. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year rate rose to 5.27% from 5.1% last week. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.52% from 4.4% last week.  

Amazon union head, others meet at White House on organizing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met Thursday with union organizers at the White House as the administration looks to boost unionization campaigns. The meeting featured an unscheduled appearance by President Joe Biden. The White House says participants discussed organizers’ efforts to form unions in their workplaces, and how those could prompt workers around the country to mount similar organization campaigns. The meeting at the White House was preceded by a Senate Budget committee hearing on Amazon’s federal contracts, which Sen. Bernie Sanders has been pressing the president to cut off. 

Wall Street, tech investors back Musk Twitter bid with $7B

Elon Musk has strengthened the equity stake in his offer to buy Twitter with commitments of more than $7 billion from a range of investors, including Oracle co-founder and Tesla board member Larry Ellison. Some other investors include Sequoia Capital Fund, which pledged $800 million, and VyCapital, which pledged $700 million. But Ellison is making the biggest contribution, pegged at $1 billion. A Thursday regulatory filing also showed that Musk initially was set to receive $12.5 billion in margin loans to help fund the deal, but is now cutting that amount in half, to $6.25 billion. 

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Starbucks says it will pay travel expenses for U.S. employees to access abortion or gender-confirmation procedures if those services aren't available within 100 miles of a worker’s home. The Seattle coffee chain says the benefit will also be available to dependents of employees enrolled in its health care coverage. Starbucks is among the most high-profile companies that have adopted a travel benefit in the wake of a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would abolish the nationwide right to abortion. Amazon is also covering up to $4,000 in travel and lodging expenses for employees seeking abortions or gender-confirmation procedures. 

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Rising interest rates are making adjustable-rate mortgages a more attractive alternative to common 30-year, fixed-rate home loans. ARMs made up 13% of all home loans by dollar volume in March, their highest share since January 2020, according to CoreLogic. The increase coincides with a sharp rise in mortgage rates which, in conjunction with sharply higher home prices, make homeownership less affordable.

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