Nasdaq barely rises, other indexes fall
U.S. stock indexes closed with mostly modest losses Tuesday as the market gave up some of its solid gains from the past two weeks. Banks and technology stocks accounted for most of the decline. The Nasdaq eked out a tiny gain that was good enough to nudge it to another record high. The selling, which lost some of its momentum in the final hour of trading, came as investors weighed the effect of the virus outbreak in China on Apple and other major companies. The S&P 500 index fell 9.87 points, or 0.3%, to 3,370.29. The benchmark index remains just below its all-time high set on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 165.89 points, or 0.6%, to 29,232.19. It had been down as many as 281 points. The Nasdaq recovered from an early slide, inching up 1.57 points, or less than 0.1%, to 9,732.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 4.06 points, or 0.2%, to 1,683.52. European and Asian markets declined.
Food and drink
Wendy’s to pay for labor-law violations
Fast-food chain Wendy’s has agreed to pay $400,000 to resolve allegations that it violated child labor laws by having teenage employees at dozens of Massachusetts restaurants work later and longer than allowed, the state Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday. The office began investigating after a minor employed at a Wendy’s in Worcester complained that teenagers were working too late into the night and too many hours per day. Wendy’s provided records to investigators, who found that the restaurant was violating two child labor laws by allowing 16- and 17-year old employees to work past 10 p.m. and more than nine hours per day. Investigators estimated more than 2,100 violations at 46 corporate-owned Wendy’s International LLC locations across the state.
PG&E expects profits to regain strength
Pacific Gas and Electric said it expects to become more profitable than ever after it emerges from bankruptcy and pays off more than $25 billion in losses sustained in catastrophic wildfires ignited by its outdated equipment. The nation’s largest utility shared its rosy outlook on Tuesday, along with its sobering results for 2019. PG&E wound up losing nearly $7.7 billion last year, widening from its previous record loss of $6.8 billion in 2018. Last year’s loss included a $3.6 billion setback during the October-December period that included an $86 million charge for refunds to customers who had their power shut off to minimize the chances of sparking more wildfires last fall.
Highways blocked by protests in Spain
Farmers in fluorescent yellow vests blocked highways in southwestern Spain with tractors and other vehicles Tuesday in the latest mass protest over what they said are plummeting incomes for agricultural workers. Several labor unions called for protest rallies, predominantly in the Extremadura region that borders Portugal, to demand government action to ensure more realistic retail prices for fruit and vegetables. Ángel García, head of the regional young farmers association Asaja, said about 700 tractors blocked the roads and all farmworkers in Extremadura were urged to strike. At a different protest location on the other side of Spain, police tried to prevent farmworkers blocking both sides of the A7 highway near the southeastern town of El Ejido. Farmers also dumped crates of cucumbers and tomatoes onto roads and started small fires.