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Port Logjam, Social Security Boost


Biden tries to tame inflation by having LA port open 24/7

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden has announced a deal to expand operations at the Port of Los Angeles in hopes of ending the logjam of ships waiting to unload. It is part of his effort to reassure America that he can tame high inflation. The supply chain squeeze has caused climbing prices and delays in delivery that are threatening the U.S. economy and holiday shopping. Prices are jumping in large part because container ships are stranded at ports and unloaded goods are waiting for trucks. The White House has finalized an agreement for the Port of Los Angeles to become a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation.


Social Security checks getting big boost as inflation rises

WASHINGTON: Millions of retirees on Social Security will get a 5.9% boost in benefits for 2022. The biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years follows a burst in inflation as the economy struggles to shake off the drag of the coronavirus pandemic. The benefits increase amounts to $92 a month for the average retired worker, according to estimates released Wednesday by the Social Security Administration. The increase affects household budgets for about 1 in 5 Americans, nearly 70 million people, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees. Policymakers say its a safeguard to protect benefits against a loss of purchasing power, and not a pay raise for retirees.


Winter heating bills set to jump as inflation hits home

NEW YORK: With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter. Nearly half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, 30% more than a year ago. This could be the most expensive winter for natural-gas heated homes since 2008-2009. A forecast for a colder winter means people will likely be burning more fuel to keep warm, on top of paying more for each bit of it.


IMF head pledges renewed efforts to protect data integrity

WASHINGTON: The embattled head of the International Monetary Fund is pledging renewed efforts to bolster data integrity while focusing on the main job of helping countries recover from a devastating global pandemic. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva successfully fought to keep her job following a data-manipulation scandal. She said Wednesday that she was glad the IMFs 24-member executive board had expressed confidence in her ability to head up the 190-nation IMF. The board had looked into accusations that Georgieva, while at the World Bank, had pressured staff to boost the rankings of China and other countries in 2018 in an influential business climate report.


Inflation rises 5.4% from year ago, matching 13-year high

WASHINGTON: Consumer prices rose 0.4% last month, slightly higher than Augusts gain and pushing annual inflation back to the highest increase in 13 years. The consumer price index rose 5.4% in September from a year ago, up slightly from Augusts gain of 5.3% and matching the increases in June and July. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core inflation rose 0.2% in September and 4% compared with a year ago. Core prices hit a three-decade high of 4.5% in June.


Fed officials: Bond purchases could end by middle of 2022

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve officials agreed at their last meeting that if the economy continued to improve, they could start reducing their monthly bond purchases as soon as next month and bring them to an end by the middle of 2022. The discussion was revealed in the minutes of the Feds Sept. 21-22 meeting, released Wednesday. Last December, the Fed said that it would purchase $120 billion a month in bonds until the economy had made substantial progress toward its goals of maximum employment and inflation that averages 2% over time. The bond purchases are intended to spur more borrowing and spending by keeping longer-term interest rates low.


Facebook expands harassment policy to protect public figures

MENLO PARK, Calif.: Facebook has expanded its online harassment policies to do more to stop degrading attacks on public figures as well as abuse directed at journalists and human rights activists around the world. The new rules for Facebook and Instagram also include a ban on coordinated abuse, when a group of different users gang up to harass another person. The changes come amid mounting criticism of the companys handling of hate speech, misinformation and other kinds of harmful content. Earlier this month, a former Facebook data scientist told Congress that the platform has failed in its responsibility to protect users.


Modest gain breaks a 3-day losing streak for S&P 500 index

NEW YORK: Stocks ended another day of choppy trading modestly higher Wednesday, enough to break a three-day losing streak for the S&P 500. The benchmark index rose 0.3%. Strength in technology stocks helped push the Nasdaq up 0.7%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended little changed. Delta Air Lines fell 5.8%, the most in the S&P 500, after warning that higher fuel and labor costs could affect its profitability going forward. Bank stocks had some of the biggest losses. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.54% even after the government reported another jump in consumer prices last month.


The S&P 500 added 13.15 points, or 0.3%, to 4,363.80. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.53 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34,377.81. The Nasdaq rose 105.71 points, or 0.7%, to 14,571.64. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 7.70 points, or 0.3%, to 2,241.97.

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