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Business Highlights: Child Care Crisis, Automaker Earnings

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Exacerbated by pandemic, child care crisis hampers economy

SEATTLE: The pandemic has made clear what many experts had long warned: The absence of reliable and affordable child care limits the jobs people can accept, makes it harder to climb the corporate ladder and ultimately restricts the ability of the broader economy to grow. Now, each caretaker resignation, coronavirus exposure and day care center closure reveals an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economys workforce. It remains to be seen what survives in the brutal negotiations in Congress for President Joe Bidens broad family services agenda, but the pandemic is proving to be a make-or-break catalyst for the future of the child care industry.

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America on fire: Facebook watched as Trump ignited hate

COLUMBUS, Ohio: Internal Facebook documents reveal a country lit on fire in the days after controversial social media posts from then-President Donald Trump last year. Facebooks own analysis shows that hate speech and violence reports skyrocketed on the site immediately after Trump sent a social media message threatening to shoot looters in Minneapolis amid protests after the killing of George Floyd. Facebook took no action on Trumps post. The platforms automated controls were almost 90% certain that Trumps post violated company policies against inciting violence, contradicting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergs claims last year that the post didnt break company rules. Facebook said that internal controls arent always correct and human reviews, like the one on Trumps post, are more accurate.

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Ford, GM profits fall as sales drop due to chip shortage

DETROIT: The global computer chip shortage cut into third-quarter profits at both Ford and crosstown rival General Motors, with both companies having to temporarily close factories, pinching supplies on dealer lots. Fords net income of $1.83 billion was down 23% from a year ago. GMs profit dropped 40% to $2.4 billion. For both automakers, high prices mainly for the pickup trucks and big SUVs that they sold eased the sting from lower sales. Ford, which reported results after Wednesdays closing bell, said its revenue dropped 5% from a year ago to $35.68 billion. But the company said it would resume paying a 10-cent-per-share dividend starting in the fourth quarter, at a cost of $400 million per quarter.

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Boeing posts Q3 loss as problems dog airliner, space capsule

CHICAGO: Boeing reported a loss of $109 million for the third quarter because of charges for its 787 Dreamliner plane and the Starliner space capsule. Boeing said Wednesday that it sees demand for planes improving, however, as more people travel and the airline industry recovers from the pandemic. Boeing is struggling to resume deliveries of the Dreamliner because of a series of production flaws. Without those deliveries, Boeing is losing a source of cash. And its also taking a write-down to cover problems with the Starliner. The space capsules first test flight in 2019 didnt go as planned, and the second one was scrubbed this August because of issues with valves in the propulsion system.

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Stocks end lower on Wall Street, easing back from records

NEW YORK: Stocks faded in the last hour of trading and ended mostly lower Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average set their latest record highs. Several big technology companies posted solid gains, led by Microsoft, which reported a 24% surge in profits last quarter as its cloud computing business bounded ahead. The S&P 500 gave up 0.5% after shedding an early gain and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7%. The Nasdaq ended little changed. Encouraging earnings helped lift several companies, including McDonalds. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53%. Oil prices fell.

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McDonalds sales surged 14% as virus restrictions eased

CHICAGO: McDonalds has reported stronger-than-expected sales in the third quarter, boosted by larger orders and higher prices on the menu. Revenue jumped 14% to $6.2 billion in the July-September period. That beat Wall Streets forecast of $6 billion. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 12.7% as coronavirus restrictions eased in most markets. Wall Street had expected a 10% increase. McDonalds net income rose 22% to $2.1 billion for the quarter. Per-share earnings of $2.86 also beat analysts forecast of $2.46.

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Retail trade group: holiday sales could set new record

NEW YORK: The National Retail Federation, the nations largest retail trade group, expects that holiday sales gain could shatter last years record-breaking season even as a snarled global supply chain slows the flow of goods and results in higher prices for a broad range of items. The trade group said Wednesday that it predicts sales for the November and December period will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% to $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Holiday sales increased 8.2% in 2020 compared with the previous year when shoppers, locked down during the early part of the pandemic, splurged on pajamas and home goods, mostly online

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France threats to block British fishing boats from ports

PARIS: France says it will bar British fishing boats from some French ports starting next week if no deal is reached with the U.K. in a dispute over fishing licenses for French boats. Frances government also suggested it may restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands, a British Crown dependency that relies heavily on French electricity. France vehemently protested the decision last month by the U.K. and the island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boats a license to operate in their territorial waters. Dozens of other French boats did get such a license. Since the U.K. left the European Union earlier this year, relations between London and Paris have become increasingly frayed.

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The S&P 500 fell 23.11 points, or 0.5%, to 4,551.68. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 266.19 points, or 0.7%, to 35,490.69. The Nasdaq rose 0.12 points, or less than 0.1%, to 15,235.84. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies slipped 43.58 points, or 1.9%, to 2,252.49.

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