Company Highlights: Gas Tax Relief, U.S. Infant Formula Imports

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Biden calls for 3-month suspension of gasoline and diesel taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is asking Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — an election-year move meant to ease fiscal pressures. But it’s not clear that Biden has the votes to suspend taxes. Many lawmakers in his own party have expressed reservations. Biden says he knows the move wouldn’t reduce “all the pain, but it will be a big help.” If gas tax savings were fully passed on to consumers, people would save about 3.6% at the pump. Average prices are around $5 a gallon nationwide. Biden also wants states to suspend their own gasoline taxes or provide similar relief.

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Powell: Fed aims to avoid recession but says it’s possible

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has sought to reassure the public that the Fed will raise interest rates high enough and fast enough to rein in inflation, without tightening credit to the point to strangle the economy and cause a recession. Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell faced skeptical questions about the Fed’s ability to control inflation, which has risen to the top of Americans’ concerns as the congressional election nears. Democrats wondered if the Fed’s accelerated rate hikes would succeed in curbing inflation or instead could simply tip the economy into a slowdown. Several Republicans have accused Powell’s Fed of moving too slowly to start raising rates and now needs to accelerate its hikes. ___

US stocks give up afternoon gains and end slightly lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks gave up an afternoon gain and ended slightly lower on Wall Street on Wednesday. Energy companies helped drag the market lower after crude oil prices fell. The S&P 500 fell 0.1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% and the Nasdaq lost 0.1%. The price of US crude oil fell 4%. Investors have been closely following testimony in Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. He reaffirmed the central bank’s determination to raise interest rates and slow inflation. Bond yields have mostly fallen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps fix mortgage rates, fell to 3.16%.

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‘Groundhog Day’ at the IRS: Returns are piling up, phone delays are getting worse

WASHINGTON (AP) — An IRS watchdog said customer service issues are worsening at the tax processing agency. A new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate indicates that taxpayers are experiencing longer wait times on the phone, there is an even larger backlog of paper returns than a year ago, and delays in processing paper returns last from six months to a year. The Taxpayer Challenge Report is submitted twice a year to Congress. The latest edition comes a day after the IRS said it was on track to clear its backlog of 2021 tax returns. The IRS says the report’s numbers are “neither the most accurate numbers nor the most recent”. and that the agency “continues to make substantial progress on the inventory.”

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US imports infant formula from Mexico to ease shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing logistical support to import the equivalent of about 16 million 8-ounce baby bottles from Mexico. It begins this weekend as part of efforts to ease nationwide supply shortages caused by the closure of America’s largest manufacturing plant. The Department of Health and Human Services is expediting the journey of trucks that will carry approximately 1 million pounds of Gerber Good Start Gentle infant formula from a Nestlé factory to U.S. retailers. This is almost double the amount imported into the United States to date. Cargo flights from Europe and Australia have already brought formula to the United States, and more will come this weekend.

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Walmart expands healthcare services to tackle racial inequality

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is expanding health care coverage for employees who want to use a doula, a person trained to help women during pregnancies. It’s part of an effort to address racial inequities in mothering. After first offering doulas to its employees in Georgia last year, Walmart said Wednesday it would extend the same benefit to its employees in Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Walmart says it chose to expand coverage to states where the impact would be immediate. He said the death rate in Louisiana is five times higher for black mothers than for white mothers, and in Indiana, 33 counties do not have OB-GYN services.

___ UK to see second national railway strike after talks stalemate

LONDON (AP) — Britain is facing the second of three national railway strikes after further negotiations between the union and employers ended in an impasse. The Union of Railways, Maritime and Transport accused the government of “sabotage” Wednesday’s talks. He said the 24-hour walkout by 40,000 cleaners, flaggers, maintainers and station staff would go ahead as planned on Thursday. Rail infrastructure company Network Rail said it was “disappointed that the RMT has again chosen to walk away from negotiations”. The union staged a one-day strike on Tuesday that has crippled Britain’s rail network, with just a fifth of passenger services running. Another walkout is scheduled for Saturday.

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Thousands of Dutch farmers protest, fearing government budget cuts

STROE, Netherlands (AP) — Thousands of farmers gathered in central Holland to protest against Dutch government plans to limit emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia. They drove their tractors across the country in slow convoys and rumbled through traffic on major highways on Wednesday. The protest was organized after the government published ambitious national emission reduction targets. Calling it an “inevitable transition,” the government has imposed changes that will likely force many farmers to drastically reduce their livestock or get rid of them altogether. Farmers are claiming their livelihoods and those of thousands of people who work in the agricultural service industry are at stake.

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The S&P 500 fell 4.90 points, or 0.1%, to 3,759.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 47.12 points, or 0.2%, to 30,483.13. The Nasdaq fell 16.22 points, or 0.1%, to 11,053.08. The Russell 2000 Small Business Index fell 3.75 points, or 0.2%, to 1,690.28.

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