STOCKS

Indexes bounce, finish with small gains

U.S. stock indexes spent Wednesday drifting and finished with small gains. While big companies continue to report strong profit growth, investors aren’t sure how much longer it will last. The S&P 500 index rallied 0.8 percent in the morning after fourth-quarter earnings from major companies including IBM, consumer products maker Proctor & Gamble, and manufacturer United Technologies. Later, traders focused on some less encouraging quarterly reports and the muddled state of trade talks between the U.S. and China, and the S&P 500 lost 0.8 percent before it gradually turned higher. The S&P 500 added 5.80 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,638.70 after a 1.4 percent loss Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 171.14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,575.62. The Nasdaq composite edged up 5.41 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,025.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 3.20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,454.26. U.S. crude oil lost 0.7 percent to $52.62 per barrel in New York.

Media

Verizon cuts 800 jobs in media division

Verizon is cutting about 800 jobs, or 7 percent of its media and advertising employees, as it reorganizes the troubled division. The wireless company had hoped to create an ad business that could compete with Google and Facebook. It spent roughly $10 billion buying up former internet pioneers Yahoo and AOL. But Verizon found benefits from integrating those two companies were less than expected. The company slashed the value of its media unit by nearly $5 billion in December. The new CEO of Verizon’s media division, Guru Gowrappan, informed employees of the layoffs in an e-mail Wednesday. He says the division’s priorities will now include focusing on mobile and video products.

Environment

Calif. city OKs 25-cent charge for cups

Patrons of restaurants and coffee shops in Berkeley, Calif., who don’t bring a reusable cup for their beverage will have to pay a 25-cent fee for a disposable cup as part of an ordinance approved by city officials to eliminate restaurant waste. Berkeley’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the fee on single-use cups, which will take effect January 2020. Restaurants would keep all proceeds, and it would be up to them to decide what to do with the extra money, Hahn said. She said it could be invested on more environmentally friendly food ware.

Government

Employment help available in Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans who lost their jobs after hurricanes Maria and Irma can start applying for disaster unemployment assistance after the U.S. doubled the 26 weeks of benefits, officials announced Wednesday. The National Employment Law Project estimates that more 10,000 Puerto Ricans are eligible and that lump-sum payments could total nearly $30 million, with overall individual payments ranging from $2,000 to $3,000. Advocates are trying to reach out to families that qualify but worry they won’t reach many given that more than an estimated 130,000 people fled Puerto Rico after the two major hurricanes hit the Caribbean in September 2017.

NEWS SERVICES