Stock gains fizzle out in late trading; IRS delays are getting worse

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Stocks cede gains, end slightly lower

NEW YORK — Stocks gave up an afternoon gain and ended slightly lower on Wall Street on June 22.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.1 percent.

Energy companies helped pull the market lower after crude oil prices sank fell 4 percent.

Investors closely watched testimony to Congress from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, who reaffirmed the central bank’s determination to raise interest rates and slow inflation.

Bond yields mostly fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, fell to 3.16 percent.

Groundhog Day’ at IRS as delays worsen

WASHINGTON — An IRS watchdog says customer service issues are worsening at the tax-return-processing agency.

A new report from the National Taxpayer Advocate says taxpayers are experiencing longer wait times on the phone, there’s an even bigger backlog of paper returns than there was a year ago, and delays in processing paper returns have been running six months to one year.

The report on taxpayer challenges is submitted twice a year to Congress. The latest edition comes one day after the Internal Revenue Service announced that it is on track to eliminate its 2021 backlog of tax returns.

The IRS contends the report’s numbers are “neither the most accurate nor most recent figures.” and that the agency ”continues to make substantial progress on the inventory.”

Walmart adds health services to address inequality

NEW YORK — Walmart is expanding health care coverage for employees who want to use a doula, a person trained to assist women during pregnancies, in an effort to address racial inequities in maternal care.

After first offering doulas to employees in Georgia last year, Walmart said Wednesday that it will expand the same benefit to its employees in Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

Walmart says it chose to extend coverage to states where the impact would be immediate.

UK inflation hits new 40-year high

LONDON — Britain’s inflation rate hit 9.1% in May, a new 40-year high and up slightly from the previous month. The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that consumer price inflation rose slightly from 9% in April, itself the highest level since 1982. Chief economist Grant Fitzner said “continued steep food price rises and record high petrol prices were offset by clothing costs rising by less than this time last year.” The increase was in line with analysts’ expectations and signals no quick end to the cost-of-living squeeze facing millions in Britain. The Bank of England says inflation could hit 11% in October when a cap on domestic energy bills is lifted.

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