Business Highlights: Downtown Businesses, Tax Proposal



Adapt or else: Downtown businesses cope with new reality

NEW YORK: As the resilient coronavirus keeps offices closed and workers at home, some are adapting while others are trying to hang on. Many business owners had looked forward to a return toward normalcy this month as offices reopened. But now that many companies have postponed plans to bring workers back, due to surging COVID-19 cases, downtown businesses are reckoning with the fact that adjustments made on the fly may become permanent. To survive, owners have taken such steps as boosting online sales or starting curbside pickup and delivery services. Or theyve changed their hours, staffing levels and what they offer customers. Others are relying more on residential traffic.


Democrats seek corporate, wealthy tax hikes for $3.5T plan

WASHINGTON: House Democrats have unveiled a sweeping proposal for tax hikes on big corporations and the wealthy to fund President Joe Bidens $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan. Congress is speeding ahead to shape the far-reaching package that touches almost all aspects of domestic life. The proposed top tax rate would revert to 39.6% on individuals earning more than $400,000, or $450,000 for couples. There would be a 3% tax on wealthier Americans making beyond $5 million a year. For big businesses, the proposal would lift the 21% corporate tax rate to 26.5%. The tax hikes are in line with Bidens own proposals.


Apple patches exploit attributed to hacker-for-hire firm

BOSTON: Apple released an emergency security software patch to fix a vulnerability that an internet watchdog group says allowed spyware from the worlds most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, NSO Group, to infect the iPhone of a Saudi activist without any user interaction. The researchers from the University of Torontos Citizen Lab said it was the first time a so-called zero-click exploit had been caught and analyzed. They said they found the malicious code on Sept. 7 and had high confidence NSO Group was behind the attack. NSO Group did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.


US stocks edge higher, regrouping after a down week

NEW YORK: Stocks managed to end a wobbly day mostly higher on Wall Street Monday as the market regroups after its biggest weekly drop since June. The S&P 500 shook off an afternoon slump and edged up 0.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.8% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.1%. Financial and energy stocks climbed, helping to make up for losses in health care. Energy companies benefited from higher prices for oil and natural gas. Benchmark crude oil rose 1% to close above $70 a barrel for the first time time since early August. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.32%.


US budget deficit rises to $2.71 trillion through August

WASHINGTON: The Treasury Department says the U.S. budget deficit rose to $2.71 trillion through August. The shortfall remains on track to be the second largest in history due to trillions of dollars in COVID relief. Thats despite tax revenues having increased faster than spending this year. In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit for the first 11 months of this budget year is 9.9% less than the imbalance during the same period last year. For the entire budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a deficit of $3 trillion, which would be just below the record deficit of $3.13 trillion set last year.


Online bets on NFL games seen surging as season begins

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.: A company that most of the legal U.S. sports betting industry uses to verify that its customers are where they say they are has reported a record number of transactions over the first weekend of the NFL season. That indicates a big increase in the level of online betting as football season got underway in a nation with many more places to bet. GeoComply Solutions, the Vancouver, Canada-based tech company, recorded over 58 million geolocation transactions across 18 states and Washington, D.C., from Thursday night, when the NFL season began, through Sunday evening. That represents a 126% increase from the same period of the 2020 NFL season.


FACT FOCUS: Walmart quashes cryptocurrency partnership claim

NEW YORK: Walmart denied any partnership with the digital currency Litecoin after a fake news release briefly tripped up several national news outlets and social media users on Monday. The release is not real, according to Walmart spokesperson Molly Blakeman. The false announcement was temporarily featured on a major press release wire and in outlets including Reuters, CNBC and Yahoo Finance, before being deleted and corrected. It wasnt immediately clear who created the bogus release. Though this announcement is fake, Walmart is looking to hire an expert in digital currencies and blockchain, Blakeman said. Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin and managing director of the Litecoin Foundation, confirmed the release was fake.


NTSB chief: Focus on road safety must shift to entire system

DETROIT: The new chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board wants to change the way governments and businesses look at highway safety to consider the whole system rather than individual driver behavior. Jennifer Homendy says such an approach worked in aviation, where there were no U.S. fatalities last year. On the roads, there were 38,680 deaths nationwide, the highest number since 2007. At the same time, vehicle miles traveled declined. Homendy says in a speech Monday that the current approach that favors automobiles and punishes only drivers for crashes is not working. She is pushing a Safe System Approach to road safety. Rather than focusing solely on drivers, she says the whole system should be studied including highway design, speed limits and how fast cars can travel.


The S&P 500 gained 10.15 points, or 0.2%, to 4,468.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 261.91 points, or 0.8%, to 34,869.63. The Nasdaq fell 9.91 points, or 0.1%, to 15,105.58. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 13.24 points, or 0.6%, to 2,240.78.

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