Shoe polish stands begin to vanish, lose their shine
NEW YORK (AP) — Shoeshines are losing some luster. Once a common practice, the tradition of getting a quick polish from a rag-toting shoeshiner has become more of a rarity, and many stands have disappeared across the country. The decline has been exacerbated by the pandemic, remote working, and the rise in popularity of more casual workwear. SC Johnson, which makes the biggest shoe polish brand, Kiwi, even said in January that it had stopped selling the brand in the U.K. due to softening demand (they still sell it in the U.S.). But there are still a few places left to get a good shine.
Close call, turbulent flight add to aviation safety concerns
Federal officials are investigating a string of close calls between planes, including one this week at Boston’s Logan Airport. The incidents are raising questions about whether air travel is getting less safe. The Federal Aviation Administration plans a safety summit this month, to look at whether some measures used to prevent accidents are less effective than they used to be. The number of close calls could end talk of easing experience requirements for newly hired pilots. President Joe Biden’s pick to run the FAA says he opposes easing the pilot-qualification standards.
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Federal Reserve officials sound warnings about higher rates
WASHINGTON (AP) — A run of strong economic data and signs that inflation remains stubbornly high could lead the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark rate higher in the coming months than it has previously forecast, several Fed officials say. Christopher Waller, a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors, said that if the economy continued to show strength and inflation remained elevated, the Fed would have to lift its key rate above 5.4%. That would be higher than Fed officials had signaled in December. His suggestion was in contrast to a speech he gave in January, titled “A Case for Cautious Optimism,” that captured a prevailing sentiment at the time that inflation had peaked and was steadily declining.
Asian stocks follow Wall St up on interest rate hopes
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street higher after a Federal Reserve official raised hopes the U.S. central bank might not step up its anti-inflation fight as much as feared. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. Oil prices retreated. Wall Street rose for the first time in three days after the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta expressed support for raising the Fed’s benchmark lending rate to a range of 5% to 5.25% _ less than many investors are forecasting. Bostic said the Fed might be able to pause additional rate increases by mid-year. Meanwhile, Japan reported unemployment edged lower in January.
Here's why it's so hard to buy vegetables in the UK
LONDON (AP) — British people have had to ration their salad staples like tomatoes and cucumbers for the past two weeks amid a shortage of fresh vegetables. Officials blame the problem on recent bad weather in Spain and North Africa and say the shortages could persist for up to a month. But many people are quick to point out that other European countries don’t seem to be suffering from the same shortages, leading some to question: Is this a consequence of Brexit? Experts say Britain's exit from the European Union likely played a part. But they say a more complex set of factors including climate change, the U.K.’s overreliance on imports during the winter and soaring energy costs are more salient explanations.
BetterHelp shared users' sensitive health data, FTC says
The online counseling service BetterHelp has agreed to return $7.8 million to customers to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for sharing with companies including Facebook and Snapchat health data it had promised to keep private. The FTC says the data included information about mental health challenges such as depression or suicidal thoughts. The proposed FTC order announced Thursday also limits how the California-based company may share consumer data in the future. BetterHelp says the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing and that the practices of which it was accused are standard in the industry.
Europe inflation eases slightly but consumer pain persists
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Inflation has eased only slightly in the 20 countries that use the euro currency as the pain from higher costs for food and fuel persists. That’s giving the European Central Bank no reason to slow interest rate increases aimed at getting prices back under control. The European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat said Thursday that the consumer price index reached 8.5% in February compared with a year earlier, a drop from 8.6% in January. Prices for food, alcohol and tobacco rose higher than the month before, outpacing even energy costs amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. Energy prices grew from a year ago but were lower than their increase in January.
Nordstrom closing its Canadian stores, cutting 2,500 jobs
TORONTO (AP) — Nordstrom Inc. is closing all of its Canadian stores and cutting 2,500 jobs as it winds down operations in the country. The Seattle-based retailer has six Nordstrom and seven Nordstrom Rack stores in Canada, which will be shuttered by late June. Its e-commerce business will cease operations Thursday. Nordstrom chief executive Erik Nordstrom says the company is exiting Canada because it does not see a realistic path to profitability for the business in the country.
Toxic 'forever chemicals’ about to get their first US limits
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose restrictions on harmful “forever chemicals” in drinking water after finding they are dangerous in amounts so small as to be undetectable. But experts say removing them will cost billions, a burden that will fall hardest on small communities with few resources. Concerned about the chemicals’ ability to weaken children’s immune systems, the EPA said last year that PFAS could cause harm at levels “much lower than previously understood.” The expected announcement is intended to address this growing gap between health science and regulation.
What is ESG investing and why do some hate it so much?
NEW YORK (AP) — After starting as a niche corner of the finance world, ESG investing has since exploded to become a major force on Wall Street _ and the latest front in the nation’s cultural schism. To use an ESG approach is to consider a company’s performance on environmental and other measures, before deciding whether to invest in it. The industry says ESG helps make better decisions by highlighting companies that may be riskier than traditional investing guidelines alone would suggest. It could also help find better opportunities. To critics, it’s all just the latest example of the world trying to get woke.