Stocks fall...Powell confirmed for another term

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street after investors received another dire readout on inflation. The S&P 500 fell 1.5%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.5%, and the Nasdaq fell 1.6%. The Labor Department reported today that wholesale prices soared 11% in April from a year earlier. That came a day after a hot report on inflation at the consumer level. Major indexes remain in the red for the week. Disney fell after missing analysts’ forecasts in its latest earnings report, while Coach and Kate Spade owner Tapestry rose following strong results. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed Jerome Powell for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chair, giving bipartisan backing to Powell’s high-stakes efforts to curb the highest inflation in four decades. The 80-19 vote reflected broad support in Congress for the Fed’s drive to combat surging prices through a series of sharp interest rate hikes that could extend well into next year. The Fed’s goal is to slow borrowing and spending enough to ease the inflation pressures.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A shortage of baby formula in the United States is driving parents to swap, sell and offer leftover supplies to each other. The scramble comes as President Joe Biden plans to speak with manufacturers and retailers today about the plight facing families. The gap stems from supply chain disruptions and a safety recall. The shortage is having a cascade of effects. Retailers are limiting what customers can buy, and doctors are urging parents to contact food backs, physicians’ offices as well as warning against water down formula or making DIY recipes. The shortage is weighing particularly on lower-income families after the recall by formula maker Abbott stemming from contamination concerns.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission is proposing to help Ukraine move its critical grain supplies to parts of the world at risk of food insecurity. The plan released today by the European Union’s executive arm urges rail, road and river routes to get around a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports. The proposal also aims to ease congestion between borders that would facilitate getting humanitarian aid into the war-torn country. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provoked disruptions of global food supplies, with both countries two of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat, barley and sunflower oil. Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia rely on those affordable supplies.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The first factory to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Africa has announced that it has not received enough orders and is planning to stop production within a few weeks, in what a senior World Health Organization official described as a “failure” in efforts to achieve vaccine equity. South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare said that it cannot let its large-scale sterile manufacturing facilities sit idle and will return to making anesthetics. At the outset of the COVID pandemic, the company shifted its production and achieved capacity to produce more than 200 million doses annually of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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