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U.S. halts oil, gas leases

April 21, 2021 Updated Wed., April 21, 2021 at 5:46 p.m.

BILLINGS, Mont. – The U.S. Interior Department is canceling oil and gas lease sales from public lands through June amid an ongoing review of how the program contributes to climate change, officials said Wednesday.

The action does not affect existing leases, and the agency has continued to issue new drilling permits during the open-ended review ordered by the White House, said Nada Culver, deputy director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

The petroleum industry and its Republican allies in Congress have said the oil and gas moratorium will harm the economies of Western states without putting a significant dent in climate change.

Amazon rolls out pay-by-palm

NEW YORK – Amazon is rolling out pay-by-palm technology at some Whole Foods grocery stores near its headquarters to make paying quicker and more convenient.

The technology, called Amazon One, lets shoppers scan the palm of their hand and connect it to a credit card or Amazon account.

After the initial set up, which Amazon says takes less than a minute, shoppers can scan their hand at the register to pay for groceries without having to open their wallets.

Amazon first launched the technology late last year and at the time said the technology could be used at stadiums, office buildings and other retailers.

Stocks finish broadly higher

Technology companies and banks helped lift stocks on Wall Street broadly higher Wednesday, enabling the market to claw back some of its losses after a downbeat start to the week.

The S&P 500 rose 0.9%, snapping a two-day slide.

Most of the companies in the benchmark index rose, with technology, financial and health care stocks accounting for a big share of the gains.

Tesla, Amazon and other companies that rely directly on consumer spending also rose. Communication and utilities stocks fell.

Investors continued to work through company earnings reports while keeping an eye on bond yields, which eased lower. Small-company stocks far outpaced the broader market after slumping a day earlier.

“You had small-caps really get beaten up over the last few days, but today there’s some relief, and that’s pretty much enough to support everything else, at least for today,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts. “At the end of the day, it’s still a bull market. It’s more volatile than it was last year, but the path of least resistance is still higher.”

The S&P 500 rose 38.48 points to 4,173.42. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 316.01 points, or 0.9%, to 34,137.31. Both the S&P 500 and Dow hit all-time highs on Friday. The technology-heavy Nasdaq added 163.95 points, or 1.2%, to 13,950.22.

From wire reportsSo far, Amazon hasn’t announced any takers. It has been put into use in several of its cashier-less stores and Amazon said it has signed up thousands of users, but didn’t provide a specific number.

Privacy experts have warned against the use by companies of biometric data, such as face or palm scans, because of the risk of it being hacked and stolen. Amazon said it keeps the palm images in a secure part of its cloud and doesn’t store the information on the Amazon One device. The company said shoppers can also ask for their information to be deleted at any time.

A Whole Foods store in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle started using the technology on Wednesday. Seven additional Whole Foods locations in the area will have it installed in the coming months. Amazon declined to say if or when other locations might get it. There are about 500 Whole Foods stores across the country.

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