Stocks gain…Fed pledges ‘powerful support’ for economy

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street stocks are solidly higher, putting the market on track to end this vacation-cut week on a slight profit. The S&P 500 index rose 1% in afternoon trading, led by banks and technology stocks. Big companies will be reporting quarterly earnings next week, starting with big banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Analysts expect another strong quarter for Wall Street due to the improving economy and fewer Americans defaulting on credit compared to earlier in the pandemic. Oil prices continued to rise, with crude temporarily hitting $ 75 a barrel overnight.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Reserve says its policy of low interest rates “is a big help” for the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. In its twice-yearly monetary policy report to Congress, the Fed announced that it would maintain this support until further progress is made in recovering from last year’s severe recession. During the first half of this year, advances in vaccination helped reopen the economy and fueled strong economic growth. However, the ongoing effects of the pandemic continue to weigh on the economy, with employment remaining well below pre-pandemic levels.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Board of Directors of the International Monetary Fund has approved a $ 650 billion increase in resources to help economically vulnerable nations fight the coronavirus pandemic. IMF executive director Kristalina Georgieva says the new support would be “a shot in the arm for the world”. It is a reversal of the Trump administration’s position. Republican Congressmen protested the funding, saying the expanded IMF resources would benefit US opponents like China, Russia and Iran.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House says President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Friday that he must “take action” against cybercriminals acting in his country and that the US reserves the right to “Their people and their criticism to defend infrastructure.” The conversation took place less than a month after the meeting of the two heads of state and government in Geneva, where Biden warned of ongoing cyber attacks on US companies and infrastructure from Russia. A new ransomware attack related to the Russia-based hacker group REvil caused widespread disruption last weekend.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The acting head of the Food and Drug Administration is calling for a government investigation into highly unusual contacts between her agency’s drug investigators and the maker of a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug. Today’s announcement marks the most recent fallout over the approval of the drug Aduhelm last month. The drug is an expensive and unproven therapy that the agency has accepted against the advice of its own outside experts. Dr. Janet Woodcock filed the application with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the regulatory agency that oversees the FDA and other federal health agencies.

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