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Week in business: With Ukraine invasion, markets volatile

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Week in business: With Ukraine invasion, markets volatile

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine hit global markets amid uncertainty over the potential impact of the conflict on inflation, the operations of multinational corporations, energy prices and energy flows to Europe. In recent years, Europe has received about 40 percent of its gas and more than a quarter of its oil from Russia. In addition, Ukraine and Russia together produce about a quarter of the world’s wheat, and Russia is a major supplier of other major commodities. Inflation is likely to continue to rise with the outcome of the conflict. This creates an economic pickle for the Federal Reserve and its plan to raise interest rates in March. Withdrawing support for the economy can help reduce inflation, but it can also impact economic growth if consumers reduce their spending. Several Fed officials have indicated they are unlikely to change course.

After delays by Omicron over the latest round of back-to-office plans last year, companies are making another attempt to set return dates — in fact, this time (they hope). Office occupancy rates across the country are rising after a January drop: Earlier this month in 10 major cities, it averaged 31 percent of pre-Covid levels, up from 23 percent in early January, security firm Kastel said. According to Systems. As more workers return to the office, the coronavirus protocols they face will vary depending on their employer. Google announced last week that it was easing some of its restrictions, including requiring that employees entering its US offices be tested weekly and that employees wear masks in most of its offices. The Times surveyed 500 top companies about their vaccine policies, and of the more than 100 who responded or made their plans public, 75 said they would need shots for some employees. Some also said they would need booster shots or vaccinations for some workers but not others.

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A six-year battle between US Soccer and members of its national women’s team ended Tuesday with a $24 million payment and the organization’s commitment to equalize wages between the women’s and men’s teams in all competitions. The settlement comes two years after a federal judge dismissed the players’ equal pay arguments. Most of the multi-billion dollar payment will go to a group of several dozen current and former players in the form of back pay. A pledge to equalize salaries going forward is dependent on the ratification of a new contract with the players’ union – and for the deal to work, the men’s players would have to agree to share millions of dollars in potential World Cup payments.

Governments have responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with punitive sanctions. Russia’s main development bank and its military bank were cut off from most of the financial system, making it difficult for Russia to raise money in foreign markets. Both the United States and the European Union also cut tech exports to Russia, which could hurt its ability to upgrade airplanes, electronics and ships. Two measures were conspicuously absent from global sanctions: blocking Russia from SWIFT, a Belgian service that connects more than 11,000 financial institutions as they transfer money around the world, and interfering with its energy exports. Taking Russia out of SWIFT could make it more difficult for countries in Europe to buy energy from the country. Cracking Russia’s energy business could push global energy prices even higher and hurt Europe as much as Russia.

New data released Friday by the Labor Department will show whether the job market continued its strong comeback in February after better-than-expected growth in January. The January report was seen by economists as a good sign that the economic recovery was resilient to disruptions caused by Omicron. The February data was collected during various pandemic situations: New coronavirus cases have declined by more than 80 percent from their peak in mid-January.

Law proposed on Wednesday would require large companies operating in the EU to establish rules to detect, prevent and mitigate human rights and environmental threats in their supply chains. If the resolution is passed – a process that could take a year or more – victims could sue companies that violate it in the domestic courts of EU countries, even if damages were caused elsewhere. Richard Gardiner of Global Witness said the legislation has the potential to become “a pivotal moment for human rights and the climate crisis”, while Pierre Guttaz, president of trade organization BusinessEurope, said “it is unrealistic to expect that European companies can Control your entire value chain across.”

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The Winter Olympics drew their smallest television audience on record. Volkswagen is considering plans to spin off Porsche in a public offering. And the Internal Revenue Service said Monday it would allow taxpayers to opt out of using facial recognition technology to gain access to their online accounts.

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