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TALKING POINTS

MacKenzie Scott gave $3.9 billion to nonprofits in the last nine months

MacKenzie Scott announced in a blog post Wednesday that she has donated nearly $4 billion to 465 nonprofits.Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

PHILANTHROPY

MacKenzie Scott gave $3.9 billion to nonprofits in the last nine months

MacKenzie Scott donated almost $3.9 billion since June to 465 organizations, including 17 based in Massachusetts. Scott outlined her latest giving in a Medium post published Wednesday, saying the aim of her philanthropy was “to support the needs of underrepresented people from groups of all kinds.” Boston-based Community Catalyst, a national health advocacy organization, received $25 million in its largest gift to date. Also included in the total was $436 million for Habitat for Humanity affiliates, with $3.5 million going to the chapter representing MetroWest and Greater Worcester communities. The list of recipients ranged from Boys & Girls Clubs to the Climate Justice Resilience Fund to Planned Parenthood, but didn’t indicate how much each group received. “We don’t advocate for particular policies or reforms,” Scott said in the blog post. “Instead, we seek a portfolio of organizations that supports the ability of all people to participate in solutions.” Scott, 51, the former wife of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, has a fortune of $55.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

HOUSING

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Sales of new homes nationwide were down again in February

Sales of new US homes fell in February for a second month, suggesting high prices and rising mortgage rates may be keeping prospective buyers on the sidelines. Purchases of new single-family homes decreased 2 percent to a 772,000 annualized pace following a downwardly revised 788,000 in January, government data showed Wednesday. A recent report showed a measure of homebuilders’ sales expectations for the next six months slumped in March to the lowest since June 2020 amid growing concerns over the combination of rising construction costs and higher interest rates. The new-home sales report, produced by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, showed the median sales price of a new home jumped 10.7 percent in February from a year earlier, to $400,600. The number of homes sold during the month and awaiting the start of construction rose from January to 209,000, Wednesday’s report showed. There were 407,000 new homes for sale as of the end of February, the most since August 2008, though roughly 91 percent were either under construction or not yet started. At the current sales pace, it would take 6.3 months to exhaust the supply of new homes, compared with 4.5 months one year ago. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ECONOMY

UK inflation likely to hit a 40-year high this year

UK inflation is set to hit a 40-year high of 8.7 percent at the end of the year as higher energy and commodity costs feed through to consumer prices, the government’s fiscal watchdog forecast. The projection is above the Bank of England’s current outlook for about 8 percent and would be the highest since 1982, when the UK was still grappling with the aftermath of oil shocks in the 1970s. For 2022 as whole, the Office for Budget Responsibility now expects inflation to average 7.4 percent, almost double the 4 percent it forecast in October. High inflation will outpace wage growth and cause a 2.2 percent decline in real living standards in the 2022-23 fiscal year, which is “their largest financial year fall on record,” the OBR said. Living standards will not recover their pre-pandemic level until 2024-25, according to the forecast. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

REAL ESTATE

Epstein’s private islands are for sale at $125 million

Two private Caribbean islands that belonged to Jeffrey Epstein, the late pedophile financier who died in jail, are on sale for $125 million. The US Virgin Islands property — Great St. James and Little St. James — spans about 230 acres, according to the listing, termed the ‘’Jameses.’’ The smaller of the islands has a main residence, guest villas, a helipad, two pools, and three beaches. The larger one, across the bay from St. Thomas, is largely untouched with a marine preserve known as Christmas Cove. Epstein, a resident of the Virgin Islands for more than two decades, was accused of trafficking and sexually abusing young women and underage girls on the properties, which locals dubbed Pedophile Island and Orgy Island. New York-based Modlin Group, one of the agents marketing the sale, declined to comment. The proceeds will go toward resolving outstanding lawsuits against the Epstein estate and the regular costs of its operations, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the listing. Epstein bought Little St. James in 1998 for $7.95 million and nearby Great St. James in 2016 for $22.5 million. He also amassed properties in Paris, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, flying between them on his private jets until he was arrested for sex trafficking of minors in 2019. Weeks later, he hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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COMPENSATION

The average Wall Street bonus last year reached a record high $257,500

Soaring profits on Wall Street helped drive up the average bonus paid to employees in New York City’s securities industry to a record $257,500 for last year, the state comptroller reported Wednesday. The average securities industry bonus was 20 percent higher than 2020 and came out of a bonus pool that grew to $45 billion, according to annual estimates from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. He cited pretax profits through the first three quarters of 2021 for broker/dealer operations on the New York Stock Exchange, which increased by 19.6 percent to $44.9 billion. The comptroller said that recent events could drive down near-term profitability and bonus payments. “Markets are turbulent as other sectors’ recovery remains sluggish and uneven, and Russia wages an inexcusable war on Ukraine’s freedom,” DiNapoli said in a statement. ― ASSOCIATED PRESS

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RUSSIA/UKRAINE

Nestle is the latest corporation to halt sales of some products in Russia

Nestle said Wednesday that it was suspending sales of its KitKat and Nesquik brands in Russia, the latest effort from a global consumer giant to rethink operations in the country as it wages war on Ukraine. Global brand owners including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Coca-Cola have been under pressure to pull out of Russia as Western countries try to squeeze Russia’s economy and thwart its ability to the fund the war. But these brands are balancing multiple concerns, such as leaving behind investments in brands and factories, potentially disrupting complex supply chains and supporting sometimes sizable workforces. Nestle said that it was suspending sales of “the vast majority” of its prewar volume of products in Russia, including pet food, coffee, and candy. It has already halted “nonessential” imports and exports into and out of Russia, alongside advertising and capital investment. ― NEW YORK TIMES

UKRAINE

Russian stock market, crushed by war, will partially reopen

Russia plans to reopen its stock market for limited trading on Thursday, nearly one month after shares plunged and the exchange was shut down following the invasion of Ukraine. There will be heavy restrictions on trading intended to prevent the kind of massive selloff that took place on Feb. 24 in anticipation of crushing financial and economic sanctions from Western nations. Trading will be allowed in 33 of the 50 companies that are part of the country’s benchmark MOEX index, including air carrier Aeroflot, state-owned gas producer Gazprom, and the oil company Rosneft, according to the central bank announcement about the reopening. Stocks last traded in Moscow on Feb. 25. A day earlier the MOEX sank 33 percent after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Foreign shareholders will be unable to sell shares — a restriction Russia has put in place to counter Western sanctions against its financial system and the ruble, which has been sharply devalued. Moscow’s stock exchange is tiny, with a market capitalization of about $773 billion at the end of last year, according to the World Federation of Exchanges. That is dwarfed by the New York Stock Exchange, where the total of all equities is roughly $28 trillion. ― ASSOCIATED PRESS

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