Omicron, Winnie the Pooh, and nervous financial markets end in 2021

AP Business Summary Brief at 2:10 p.m. EST

BEIJING (AP) – Survey shows Chinese factory activity edged up in December as supply disruptions eased and export demand weakened. The monthly purchasing managers’ index published by the national statistics agency and an industrial group rose to 50.3 from 50.1 in November on a scale of 100 points on which figures above 50 show an acceleration of the activity. Chinese manufacturing has been hampered by shortages of some components, including semiconductors, and disruptions in shipping. Some regions have ordered factories to be temporarily closed from September to meet official energy efficiency targets.

Omicron’s wave of canceled flights ends 2021

Flight cancellations rose again on the last day of 2021, with airlines blaming it on crew shortages linked to the spike in COVID-19 infections. As of late Friday morning on the East Coast, airlines cleaned up more than 1,300 flights, according to the FlightAware tracking service. That compares to about 1,400 cancellations for the whole Thursday. The disruptions are likely to disturb hundreds of thousands of air travelers over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Canceled flights began to increase shortly before Christmas, driven by the remnants of the Delta variant and the rise of the new omicron variant of COVID-19.

Live updates: 1 in 15 people in London likely has COVID-19

New figures from the UK’s official statistics body estimate that around 1 in 25 people in private households in England had COVID-19 in the week leading up to Christmas, as the highly transmissible variant of omicron has broken down. spread rapidly across the country. The Office for National Statistics said on Friday that number had risen from 1 in 45 the week before. The figure was even higher in London, where officials said around 1 in 15 people were likely to test positive for the coronavirus in the week leading up to December 23. One in 25 people is equivalent to around 2 million people with coronavirus in England. This is the highest number since the statistical agency began estimating infection levels in May 2020.

Party-goers urged not to travel across UK as omicron soars

LONDON (AP) – Officials have warned revelers from Scotland and Wales to think twice before heading to England to ring in the New Year, highlighting how all four parts of the UK are once again taking approaches radically different from restrictions on coronaviruses amid record numbers of infections and skyrocketing hospitalizations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted tightening restrictions in England despite the rapid spread of the omicron variant. Meanwhile, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland imposed new restrictions this week that closed all nightclubs and restricted social gatherings. Opinions are divided on whether Johnson’s Tory government was taking a risky bet by not enforcing tougher coronavirus measures in England. Daily UK cases, another record high of 189,846 on Friday.

Gates’ $ 15 billion, French Gates topped 2021’s biggest gift list

It’s been a healthy year for big donations to charitable causes in 2021, a year that saw one of the largest multi-billion dollar contributions in more than a decade, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy count. Powerful philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced in May they are divorcing, then donated $ 15 billion to their foundation in July. The money will bolster its endowment and support the donor’s work in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and education in the United States going forward. The donation increased the donor’s endowment to approximately $ 65 billion.

Stocks edged down in moderate trading on the last day of 2021

Shares were down slightly on Friday, closing what turned out to be another record breaking year for Wall Street. Energy and banking were among the biggest winners, a phenomenon common in the past month. The S&P 500, which hit its last record on Wednesday, is heading for a gain of over 27% for the year, or 29% including dividends. That’s almost as much as the index gained in 2019. The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped to 1.52%. The bond market will close early Friday, but stocks will trade on a normal schedule.

Dreaded food disruptions in UK as new Brexit rules take effect

LONDON (AP) – New post-Brexit customs rules for goods arriving from the European Union to Britain come into effect on Saturday. A leading food industry body has warned that the new border controls could lead to food shortages. From January 1, importers must make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU or other countries. Businesses will no longer be allowed to delay the completion of complete import customs declarations for up to 175 days. The British Frozen Food Federation says new restrictions on animal and plant products from the EU could cause significant delays at ports in the new year. The UK imports five times the amount of food it exports to the EU.

Banknotes and coins shared in Europe celebrate their 20th anniversary on New Year’s Eve

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – In this new year, the European Central Bank celebrates the 20th anniversary of euro banknotes and coins. The physical euro was introduced on January 1, 2002, three years after the euro was adopted for non-monetary purposes by fixing its exchange rate to the old national currencies. The occasion is marked by an illuminated display on the facade of the bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt. The euro has had its ups and downs, in particular a crisis linked to excessive public and bank debt. But now the 19 member countries are taking another step to connect their economies by borrowing together to finance their recovery from the pandemic.

France promotes green habits with new car ads and plastic ban

PARIS (AP) – French customers will be encouraged to adopt more environmentally friendly habits as part of a series of new regulations that will come into force in 2022. From Saturday, leeks and carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, apples and pears and some thirty other items will no longer be sold in plastic. From March, French car ads will have to mention one of three messages urging people to use their cars less and to walk or to use public transport more. The measures promoted by the government of President Emmanuel Macron aim to reduce pollution and the impact of cars on greenhouse gas emissions. The government said the new regulations are expected to eliminate around 1 billion plastic waste per year.

“Pooh”, “Sun Also Rises” among the works released in 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) – “Winnie the Pooh” and “The Sun Also Rises” are released. AA Milne’s children’s book and Ernest Hemingway’s novel are among the 1926 works that will expire on Saturday, putting them into the public domain in 2022. The “The Weary Blues” Poetry Collections by Langston Hughes and Dorothy Parker’s “Enough Rope” will also turn 95, putting them in the public domain under US law. The silent films “Battling Butler” with Buster Keaton, “The Temptress” with Greta Garbo, “The Son of the Sheik” with Rudolph Valentino and “For Heaven’s Sake” with Harold Lloyd will also be released.

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks fell slightly in a weak market on Friday, closing what turned out to be another record year for Wall Street. Energy and banking were among the biggest winners, a phenomenon common in the past month. The S&P 500 Index slipped 0.1% at 12:45 p.m. EST, swinging between small gains and losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.3%. Vaccine makers were among the top performers on Friday, with Pfizer and Moderna both rising by around 2% each. 2021 has been a strong year for stock market investors. The S&P 500, which hit its last record on Wednesday, is heading for a gain of around 27% for the year.

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