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TALKING POINTS

Harris announces $1.25 billion to community lenders

Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala HarrisJacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

LENDING

Harris announces $1.25 billion to community lenders

Vice President Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that the Biden administration is distributing $1.25 billion to hundreds of community lenders in an effort to help boost the economic recovery from the coronavirus for small businesses and disadvantaged business owners The funds are going to more than 860 community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, around the country. CDFIs offer loans to small businesses and those who may be turned down for loans from major banks, a problem that studies have shown particularly plagues minority business owners. Harris has focused on small businesses from the start of her vice presidency, and has emphasized in particular the need to support minority- and female-owned small businesses as key to a robust economic recovery. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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ECONOMY

Wholesale prices, led by food, rose in May

Wholesale prices, boosted by rising food costs, increased 0.8 percent in May, and are up by a record amount over the past year, another indication that inflation pressures are rising since the economy has begun to reopen following the pandemic lockdowns. The Labor Department reported Tuesday that the monthly gain in its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, followed a 0.6 percent increase in April and a 1 percent jump in March. Food prices rose a sizable 2.6 percent while energy costs were up 2.2 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

FINANCE

EF Hutton is back

Kingswood Capital Markets is rebranding as EF Hutton, reviving the name of a brokerage founded in 1904 as it steps up its profile in an attempt to challenge rivals. The investment bank acquired the EF Hutton name because it was once synonymous with Wall Street, said chief executive Joseph T. Rallo and president David W. Boral. As part of the sale of the EF Hutton trademarks, Stanley Hutton Rumbough, grandson of Edward Francis Hutton, has the option to invest in and join the board of the firm’s first four special purpose acquisition companies, according to people with knowledge of the matter. EF Hutton’s blank-check companies are yet to publicly file paperwork with the Securities and Exchanges Commission, the people said. EF Hutton gained renown with the 1970s and 1980s television commercials with the tag line, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.” The firm was embroiled in a bogus-deposit scandal in the mid-80s that precipitated its eventual sale. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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RESTAURANTS

Bookings rebound to pre-pandemic levels almost everywhere in US

Restaurant bookings via Yelp surged past pre-pandemic levels in almost every US state in May, with the notable exception of New York. Diners seated in Texas and Florida, which lifted mask mandates early and reopened businesses to 100 percent capacity, more than doubled compared with May 2019, according to Yelp, a local-search provider of reviews and booking software. California was back to pre-COVID-19 levels, while New York was still down from two years earlier. The boost may be due in part to an increase in the number of restaurant owners who embraced technology from online platforms like Yelp, OpenTable, or Toast during the pandemic to help set up digital menus, takeout reservations and contact-less payments. Nationally, the number of diners seated via Yelp rose 48 percent to a record 3.7 million last month, compared with May 2019. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

TECHNOLOGY

Google, Apple targeted by EU watchdog

Google and Apple face a sweeping probe into the “duopoly” power of their mobile ecosystems, in the UK antitrust watchdog’s latest attack on Silicon Valley. The increasingly tech-focused Competition and Markets Authority opened a 12-month market study into broad aspects of the iOS and Android systems, saying it feared the companies’ dominance is stifling competition. The investigation adds to the regulator’s separate investigations into both tech giants. The CMA uses market studies to gather information before upgrading investigations. The mobile review comes as the UK watchdog seeks to move to the forefront of tech regulation after emerging from the shadow of European Union regulators at the end of the Brexit transition. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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INNOVATION

GM to develop railroad locomotives

General Motors has signed a deal to develop railroad locomotives powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and battery system. Under a nonbinding agreement with locomotive maker Wabtec Corp., GM batteries and hydrogen technology will be used in locomotives to help railroads cut carbon emissions. Wabtec already has built a battery-powered locomotive prototype. The Pittsburgh company said it was used with two diesel locomotives in a California test earlier this year that cut emissions by 11 percent. Fuel cell locomotives will follow full development of the electric version. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

WORKPLACE

American Express employees can work from home three days a week

American Express is planning to allow employees to work from home for at least part of the week on a permanent basis as the finance industry continues to unveil plans to bring staff back to the office. Most employees in the United States and UK will ultimately work in the office Tuesday through Thursday, and have the choice to work from home Mondays and Fridays, the credit-card giant said in a memo to staff. The firm will begin inviting more colleagues back on Sept. 13, with plans to fully adopt its new hybrid schedule the week of Oct. 4. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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CONSULTING

PwC to teach business leaders about trust

At a time when corporate leaders are increasingly expected to act as moral arbiters, the professional services giant PwC has spotted a business opportunity: teaching executives how to be more trustworthy. On Tuesday, it unveiled a plan to focus the firm, which offers an array of accounting and consulting services, around the concept of trust. (It also announced a goal of investing $12 billion in recruiting, training, and technology, with plans to add 100,000 new workers.) Executives are now regularly under pressure to speak out on issues such as racial justice and the environment. And businesses are in the unusual position of being the most trusted institutions in society, more than governments, nonprofit groups, and the media, according to the latest edition of a long-running survey by the public relations firm Edelman. — NEW YORK TIMES

E-COMMERCE

Shopify expands checkout system to retailers selling on Google, Facebook

Shopify will open up its e-commerce checkout system to all retailers selling through Google and Facebook, expanding an existing collaboration with the two US giants and marking the first time the Canadian technology company has offered a product to merchants that don’t use its platform. Shoppers who connect with retailers through Facebook or Google properties such as Instagram, YouTube, or Google Maps will be able to pay for their purchase using Shop Pay, starting in July for Facebook and later in 2021 for Google. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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INTERNATIONAL

French court fines Ikea for spying on union reps, employees, customers

A French court ordered home furnishings giant Ikea to pay some 1.1 million euros ($1.3 million) in fines and damages Tuesday over a campaign to spy on union representatives, employees, and some unhappy customers in France. Two former Ikea France executives were convicted and fined over the scheme and given suspended prison sentences. Among the other 13 defendants in the high-profile trial, some were acquitted and others given suspended sentences. — ASSOCIATED PRESS