Stocks rise...US inflation soared 7% in past year

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in morning trading on Wall Street after the latest report of surging prices appeared to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates later this year. The S&P 500 rose 0.7%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% and the Nasdaq rose 0.9%. The gains were led by technology stocks. Bond yields were relatively stable. Inflation jumped 7% last month, its fastest year-over-year pace in nearly four decades, but in line with economists’ forecasts. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told Congress yesterday the Fed stands ready to raise rates to fight inflation.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prices paid by U.S. consumer jumped 7% in December from a year earlier, the highest inflation rate since 1982. It's the latest evidence that rising costs for food, gas, rent and other necessities are heightening the financial pressures on America’s households. Inflation has spiked during the recovery from the pandemic recession as Americans have ramped up spending on goods such as cars, furniture and appliances. Those increased purchases have clogged ports and warehouses and exacerbated supply shortages of semiconductors and other parts.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The head of the International Energy Agency has blamed Russia for worsening Europe’s natural gas crisis. Fatih Birol said today that high prices and low storage levels largely stem from the behavior of state-owned gas supplier Gazprom. He says Gazprom could send up to a third more gas through existing pipelines. That would amount to some 10% of European daily consumption and about what industry officials say would be needed to avoid a severe shortage in case of colder-than-expected weather. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Gazprom has met its obligations under long-term contracts and blamed high spot gas prices on European decisions to move toward volatile short-term market pricing.

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Biogen are tumbling a day after regulators slapped strict limitations on coverage the drugmaker’s new Alzheimer’s disease treatment. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Tuesday that patients taking Biogen’s Aduhelm will have to participate in clinical trials to assess the drug’s effectiveness in order for Medicare to cover the cost. That’s an important caveat because Medicare is expected to cover most of the patients who opt for Aduhelm, and the drug can cost as much as $28,000 annually, not counting expenses for brain scans and other care patients will need while taking it.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Democrats have taken their first step toward creating a universal health care system. A legislative committee in the state Assembly have advanced a bill that would replace California’s private insurance market with a plan paid for by the government. But the proposal is still a long way from becoming law. It faces strong opposition from the state’s powerful business interests. And even if it becomes law, voters will have to approve a massive income tax increase to pay for it. Still, Democrats hailed the vote for jumpstarting one of their long-stalled policy goals.

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