Business Highlights – Houston Chronicle

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NEW YORK (AP) — Although nearly a fifth of U.S. states don’t require people to wear masks to protect against COVID-19, some businesses are requiring employees and customers to be masked on their premises. Company owners, whose businesses can range from manufacturers to retailers to massage therapists, say they want to protect their staff and their customers. And the law is on their side. Businesses are private properties, so owners can set the rules. And employers are obligated under federal law and some state laws to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and that can include requiring everyone on the premises to wear masks.

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Yellen calls for minimum global corporate income tax

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is urging the adoption of a minimum global corporate income tax. She said the aim would be to offset any disadvantages that might arise from the Biden administration’s proposed increase in the U.S. corporate tax rate. Yellen cited a a “30-year race to the bottom” in which countries have slashed corporate tax rates in an effort to attract multinational businesses. She said in a virtual speech Monday to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that the Biden administration would work with other advanced economies in the so-called G20 to set a minimum.

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Biden’s big infrastructure plan hits McConnell-GOP blockade

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress are making the politically brazen bet that it’s more advantageous to oppose President Joe Biden’s ambitious “Rebuild America” agenda than to lend support. They vow to fight the costly $2.3 trillion undertaking for roads, bridges and other infrastructure investments. Much the way Republicans provided no votes for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, they plan to sit on the sidelines for this next big White House priority. The tension could mount this week. Biden shows no signs adjusting to satisfy Republican leaders, instead appealing directly to their constituents for support.

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France investigates secret restaurants for Paris elite

PARIS (AP) — French authorities are investigating accusations that government ministers and others dined in secret restaurants in violation of pandemic restrictions. The Paris prosecutor’s office on Monday announced an investigation to identify the organizers and participants of the alleged gatherings. It said the probe will look into possible charges of endangerment and undeclared labor. A documentary that aired on French network M6 over the weekend included an unidentified man saying that ministers ate in high-end, clandestine restaurants in Paris. Government members denied knowledge of any such meals. French restaurants have been closed since October to slow the spread of the virus, and France just entered a new partial lockdown.

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High court sides with Google in copyright fight with Oracle

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is siding with Google in a copyright dispute with Oracle. The justices sided with Google 6-2 on Monday. The case has to do with Google’s creation of the Android operating system now used on the vast majority of smartphones worldwide. To create Android, which was released in 2007, Google wrote millions of lines of new computer code. But it also used approximately 11,500 lines of code and an organization that’s part of Oracle’s Java platform. Google says what it did is long-settled, common practice in the industry, a practice that has been good for technical progress, and the Supreme Court agreed.

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Corporations gave over $50M to voting restriction backers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Corporations have given more than $50 million in recent years to state lawmakers who have seized on Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election to push for new restrictions on the right to vote. That’s according to a new report by the government watchdog nonprofit Public Citizen. Telecom-giant AT&T was the most prolific giver, donating over $800,000 since 2015 to authors of proposed restrictions, cosponsors of such measures, or those who voted in favor of the bills. Other top givers during the same period include Comcast, Philip Morris USA, UnitedHealth Group, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors and Pfizer.

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Stocks close broadly higher following big job gains in March

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed broadly higher on Wall Street Monday as the economy showed more signs that it’s continuing to recover. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% to another record high. The gains came after the government reported last week that employers went on a hiring spree in March, adding 916,000 jobs, the most since August. Investors had a delayed reaction to the encouraging jobs reports, which was released on Friday when stock trading was closed. The services sector also showed strong growth in March. Tesla surprised investors with a report that vehicle deliveries doubled during the first quarter. Crude oil prices fell.

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Norwegian Cruises asks CDC to allow trips from US in July

MIAMI (AP) — Norwegian Cruise Line’s parent company wants to resume sailing from U.S. ports in July. On Monday, the company asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for permission to return to U.S. waters for the first time in more than a year, since the early days of the pandemic. Norwegian says its cruise lines will require that all passengers and crew members vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks before the trip. The company says its safety measures go beyond steps taken by others including airlines, hotels and restaurants. Norwegian plans to start U.S. cruises at 60% of capacity and raise that to 80% in August and 100% in September.

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The S&P 500 rose 58.04 points, or 1.4%, to 4,077.91. The Dow picked up 373.98 points, or 1.1%, to 33,527.19. The Nasdaq composite gained 225.49 points, or 1.7%, to 13,705.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 10.98 points, or 0.5%, to 2,264.89.