Stocks end lower

NEW YORK — Stocks ended lower on Wall Street Thursday after dropping in afternoon trading on a report that President Biden will propose a hefty tax increase on the gains wealthy individuals reap from investments. The S&P 500 lost 0.9%. Big Tech companies like Apple and Microsoft accounted for a good part of the losses. Investors are also focused on company earnings reports, the state of the virus outbreak, the pace of vaccinations and the prospects for the economic recovery to continue. AT&T rose after releasing results that beat expectations, helped by higher wireless charges and its HBOMax video streaming service.

Supreme Court cuts back FTC power to seek ill-gotten gains

WASHINGTON — A unanimous Supreme Court has cut back the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to recover ill-gotten gains. The justices have overturned a nearly $1.3 billion award against a professional race car driver who was convicted of cheating consumers through his payday loan businesses. The high-court ruling Thursday takes away what the FTC has called “one of its most important and effective enforcement tools,” used in recouping billions of dollars over the past decade. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his opinion for the court that the provision of federal law the FTC has relied on does not authorize the commission to seek or a federal court to order restitution or disgorgement of profits.

US aid lifts Southwest to Q1 profit, American loses $1.25B

DALLAS — The long pandemic nightmare for airlines seems to be easing. Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it earned $116 million in the first quarter, thanks to federal aid that helped cover labor costs. With the taxpayer money, Southwest would have lost $1 billion. And American Airlines lost $1.25 billion. Still, the CEOs of both airlines were upbeat, citing an increase in bookings going into the critical summer vacation season. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says that when it comes to travel demand, the worst is behind the airlines.

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