Financial world awaits key report on inflation
Wall Street will be watching closely Thursday as the Labor Department releases its report on inflation for January. Economists are forecasting the report to show inflation rose to a four-decade high of 7.3%, the Associated Press reported. If prices continue their upward surge, it could increase pressure on the Federal Reserve to speed up its plans to raise interest rates in order to fight inflation. But if the Fed is forced to raise rates too quickly, it could cause a recession, which in turn could result in higher unemployment. Economists expect overall inflation to ease in coming months as gasoline and other energy prices continue to pull back. But core inflation – which excludes food and energy – is expected to drift higher before edging down.
German chancellor to meet Baltic leaders before traveling to Russia, Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is due to receive on Thursday the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the three Baltic states that specifically feel the heat from Moscow, before traveling to Ukraine and Russia next week. It comes as Germany, which has led a NATO battlegroup in Lithuania for the past five years, will reportedly send up to 350 more troops there, reinforcing its presence on NATO’s eastern flank. Elsewhere, a few dozen elite U.S. troops and equipment were seen landing Sunday in Poland near the border with Ukraine, following Biden’s orders to deploy 1,700 soldiers there amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Team USA shines early Thursday at the Winter Olympics in Beijing
Thursday has already been an action-packed day at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Team USA superstars Chloe Kim and Nathan Chen won gold medals in impressive fashion: Kim, 21, became the first woman in Olympic history to win more than one halfpipe snowboarding gold medal. And Chen, who has been the world’s most dominant male figure skater for nearly four years, became the seventh American to win the men’s individual competition. Meanwhile, a cloud hangs over the Russian team as the medal ceremony for the Olympic figure skating team competition was delayed by a positive drug test among the gold medal-winners. Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old superstar who was expected to win the gold medal in women’s figure skating, practiced as usual Thursday, hours after reports that she tested positive for a banned substance. Fans will also get chances Thursday to see a series of ice hockey games, curling matches and two men’s snowboard finals, the halfpipe and the snowboard cross.
‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris expected to plead guilty in child pornography case
Jerry Harris, once a star of the Netflix series “Cheer,” is expected to plead guilty Thursday in a federal child pornography case alleging he solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions, court records in Chicago show. A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Thursday, according to the records. But it was not clear Wednesday which charges Harris planned to plead guilty to or whether he had reached a plea deal with prosecutors. The actor was indicted in Dec. 2020 on charges alleging misconduct in Illinois, Florida and Texas. Federal prosecutors also alleged that Harris tried to persuade a minor to engage in oral sex at cheerleading events, solicited another for sex and admitted to having five to 10 victims in all. USA TODAY broke the story about Harris being accused in Sept. 2020. Reporters Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tricia Nadolny found numerous failures across the sport of competitive cheerleading, including with the sport’s governing body, the U.S. All Star Federation.
NBA trade deadline: Will a blockbuster James Harden trade happen?
With Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET NBA trade deadline approaching, much of the attention is focused on whether the Nets and 76ers will make a trade that sends Ben Simmons to Brooklyn and James Harden south to Philadelphia. As one plugged-in agent told USA TODAY Sports, half the league believes a Harden-for-Simmons deal will happen and half believes there’s no chance. Other teams around the league could be primed to make moves, too, with many wondering whether the Los Angeles Lakers can strike a deal to bolster the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Conversely, the Washington Wizards could be looking to offload key players amid the loss of star Bradley Beal to season-ending wrist surgery and a rough stretch that has seen them go just 2-8 in their last 10 games.
Contributing: The Associated Press