US jobless claims rise to 861,000 as layoffs stay high

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week to 861,000, evidence that layoffs remain painfully high despite a steady drop in the number of confirmed viral infections. Applications from laid-off workers rose 13,000 from the previous week, which was revised sharply higher, the Labor Department said Thursday. Before the virus erupted in the United States last March, weekly applications for unemployment benefits had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Biden rolling out plan for $4 billion vaccine effort

WASHINGTON — White House officials say Joe Biden will use his first big presidential moment on the global stage at Friday’s Group of Seven meeting to announce that the US will soon begin releasing $4 billion for an international effort to bolster the purchase and distribution of Coronavirus vaccine for poor nations. Former President Donald Trump declined to participate in the COVAX initiative because of its ties to the World Health Organization. Trump had accused the Geneva-based health organization of covering up China’s missteps in handling the virus. The meeting of the G-7 is being held virtually.

Robinhood CEO defends actions in GameStop saga at hearing

WASHINGTON — Key players in the GameStop saga faced questions Thursday from House lawmakers concerned that even as investing becomes more democratized the scales are still tilted in favor of the big Wall Street institutions. Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev defended the trading platform against allegations that restrictions it put in place disadvantaged smaller investors in favor of big hedge funds. Keith Gill, a small investor who made a big profit on his GameStop trades, denied that his online comments caused unsophisticated investors to make risky investments in shares of the video game retailer. GameStop shares rose as high as $483 last month before dropping back to their current price around $45.

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