OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Union Pacific's fourth-quarter profit chugged ahead as shipping volume improved for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic slowed the economy to a crawl last year.The Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad said Thursday that it earned $1.38 billion, or $2.05 per share, in the quarter. That was roughly in line with last year's $1.4 billion, or $2.02 per share, but this year's results were weighed down by a one-time $278 million charge. Without that charge, Union Pacific said it would have reported $1.6 billion net income, or $2.36 per share.The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.25 per share.The railroad posted revenue of $5.14 billion in the period, which met Street forecasts.Union Pacific said volume grew 3% as the economy continued to recover from the worst of the pandemic. In last year’s second quarter, the number of shipments railroads handled plummeted more than 20% as many businesses and factories shut down as officials imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus before rebounding sharply in the third quarter. The railroad said it expects shipping volume to continue growing in most categories in 2021 as the industrial section of the economy continues to slowly recover, but it didn't offer any profit forecast because the overall environment remains too uncertain because of the pandemic. It also expects to continue improving productivity over the next year as it streamlines its operations. During the quarter, Union Pacific limited its expense growth to to 1% even as it handled more shipments. It reported expenses of $3.14 billion, up from $3.11 billion a year earlier.Union Pacific shares have risen almost 5% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 index has increased almost 3%. The stock has climbed 20% in the last 12 months.Union Pacific is one of the nation’s largest railroads, and it operates 32,400 miles (52,000 kilometers) of track in 23 Western states._____Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on UNP at https://www.zacks.com/ap/UNP
WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) — The man who designed some of the world’s most advanced dynamic robots was on a daunting mission: programming his creations to dance to the beat with a mix of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human.The results? Almost a year and half of choreography, simulation, programming and upgrades that were capped by two days of filming to produce a video running at less than 3 minutes. The clip, showing robots dancing to the 1962 hit “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours, was an instant hit on social media, attracting more than 23 million views during the first week.It shows two of Boston Dynamics' humanoid Atlas research robots doing the twist, the mashed potato and other classic moves, joined by Spot, a doglike robot, and Handle, a wheeled robot designed for lifting and moving boxes in a warehouse or truck.Boston Dynamics founder and chairperson Marc Raibert says what the robot maker learned was far more valuable.“It turned out that we needed to upgrade the robot in the middle of development in order for it to be strong enough and to have enough energy to do the whole performance without stopping. So that was a real benefit to the design,” Raibert says.The difficult challenge of teaching robots to dance also pushed Boston Dynamics engineers to develop better motion-programming tools that let robots reconcile balance, bouncing and doing a performance simultaneously.“So we went from having very crude tools for doing that to having very effective rapid-generation tools so that by the time we were done, we could generate new dance steps very quickly and integrate them into the performance,” Raibert says.The quality of the robots’ dancing was so good that some viewers online said they couldn't believe their eyes. Some applauded the robots’ moves and the technology powering them. Others appeared to be freaked out by some of their expressive routines.Others added that what they were seeing was probably computer-generated imagery, or CGI.Not so, Raibert says.What was on display was a results of long, hard work fueled by a determination to program the robot to dance to the beat, he says.“We didn’t want a robot doing robotlike dancing. We wanted it to do human dancing and, you know, when a human dances, the music has a beat and their whole body moves to it — their hands, their body, their head,” he says. “And we tried to get all of those things involved and coordinated so that it, you know, it was ... it looked like the robot was having fun and really moved with the music. And I think that had a lot to do with the result of the production.”Teaching robots to dance with fluid and expressive motions was a new challenge for a company that spent years building robots that have functional abilities like walking, navigating in rough terrain, pick things up with their hands and use attached advanced sensors to monitor and sense many things, Raibert says.“You know, our job is to try and stretch the boundaries of what robots can do, both in terms of the outer research boundary, but also in terms of practical applications. And I think when people see the new things that robots can do, it excites them,” he says.The advanced Atlas robot relies on a wide array of sensors to execute the dance moves, including 28 actuators — devices that serve as muscles by converting electronic or physical signal into movement — as well as a gyroscope that helps it to balance, and three quad-core onboard computers, including one that processes perception signals and two that control movement.Still, the fact that video of the dancing robots has fired up the public imagination and inspired a sense of awe was gratifying, Raibert says.“We hoped ... that people would enjoy it and they seem to. We’ve gotten calls from all around the world,” Raibert says. “We got a call from one of the sound engineers who had recorded the original Contours performance back in the '60s. And he said that his whole crew of Motown friends had been passing it around and been excited by it.”
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares mostly rose Thursday on optimism over the new U.S. administration that earlier set off a rally on Wall Street. Hopes are high that President Joe Biden's administration will mean more support for the struggling U.S. economy, starting a recovery that's crucial for the export-driven Asian region.Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.8% to finish at 28,756.86. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8% to 6,823.70, while South Korea's Kospi edged up 1.1% to 3,147.51. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.3% to 29,887.89, while the Shanghai Composite added 1.0% to 3,619.82. Data released by the Japanese Finance Ministry showed the world's third largest economy may be crawling toward a recovery, as exports for December rose for the first time in two years, by 2% from the same month the previous year. Imports declined 11.6%, marking the 20th straight month of declines. Japan's economy, like many others across the region, has been slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has crushed tourism and dampened economic activity and trade. The Bank of Japan kept its easy monetary policy at its policy board meeting, as expected. Tokyo and other urban areas of Japan are under a state of emergency, as coronavirus cases have surged lately. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 1.4%, topping its previous all-time high set earlier this month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq composite and Russell 2000 index of smaller companies also notched record highs, powered by gains in technology, communications, health care and most other sectors.Biden took a flurry of executive actions in his first hours as president. He also pitched a plan to pump $1.9 trillion more into the struggling economy, hoping to act quickly as his Democratic party now controls the White House and both houses of Congress. The hope on Wall Street is that such stimulus will help carry the economy until later this year, when more widespread COVID-19 vaccinations get daily life closer to normal. “Most of Wall Street is assuming that the second half (of 2021) is when we will see pent-up demand start to show up in the economy, and that will push economic indicators higher and will likely cause a ramp up in earnings projections," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.The S&P 500 rose 52.94 points to 3,851.85. The Dow gained 257.86 points, or 0.8%, to 31,188.38. The Nasdaq climbed 260.07 points, or 2%, to 13,457.25. The Russell 2000 picked up 9.48 points, or 0.4%, to 2,160.62.A better-than-expected start to earnings reporting season also helped lift the U.S. market. Analysts came in with low expectations, forecasting the big companies in the S&P 500 will report a fourth straight drop in earnings per share because of the damage from the pandemic. But the vast majority of the earliest reports have managed to top forecasts.Netflix jumped 16.9% for the S&P 500′s biggest gain after it said it ended last year with more than 200 million subscribers. It made more in revenue during the end of 2020 than analysts expected, though its earnings fell short of forecasts. Gains for stocks have been accelerating since Biden's election on enthusiasm about COVID-19 vaccines and potential economic moves. The bump for stocks between Election Day and Biden's inauguration was bigger than Trump's bump between his election and inauguration.“The market is up more than 13% since Election Day," Stovall said, noting that since World War II, the S&P 500 has risen an average of 3.5% in the first 100 days of a Democratic president's administration, versus an average gain of 0.5% when a Republican was in the White House. Analysts have been expressing concerns about pricey stock values heading into the latest round of corporate earnings, but they look more reasonable amid the backdrop of historically low interest rates, said Solita Marcelli, chief investment officer, Americas, at UBS Global Wealth Management. The low rates, along with new stimulus and the continued rollout of vaccines, will likely help bolster markets and the recovery.“We think that global growth is going to continue to pick up,” she said.In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gained 26 cents to $53.24 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 9 cents to $55.99 a barrel. In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 103.37 Japanese yen from 103.76 yen. The euro cost $1.2137, inching up from $1.2134.
The atmosphere at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show, held virtually for the first time due to the pandemic, struck a different tone than in years past. Without hordes of tech-hungry onlookers jockeying for position through packed convention center halls, automakers appeared more reserved in their proclamations for the future. Several high-profile exhibitors — such as Ford, Honda and Toyota — opted to sit out this year.The automakers that did present to online audiences focused on more advanced infotainment systems and the continued evolution of electric vehicles, some of which you’ll be able to see on dealer lots by this year. Here are some of the top car tech features Edmunds’ experts saw at CES 2021.AUDI: E-TRON GT PROTOTYPEAt CES the luxury automaker showed a near-final prototype of its upcoming e-tron GT electric vehicle. The e-tron GT will be a sleeker and sportier sedan version of Audi’s current e-tron Sportback SUV. Audi says it will have an estimated range of more than 200 miles. The e-tron GT should be just as smooth as it is fast. There will be a comfortable cruising mode that operates in near silence for maximum efficiency, as well as a dynamic performance mode that uses an adaptive suspension and four-wheel steering to attack curving roads. The interior can be ordered as leather-free, with cabin materials including recycled plastics and microfibers. Audi will unveil the production version of the e-tron GT later in 2021. Expect it to compete against rivals such as the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S.BMW: NEXT-GENERATION IDRIVE OPERATING SYSTEMTwenty years after the introduction of its pioneering iDrive infotainment system, BMW teased a sweeping update to the software to be fully unveiled later this year. The luxury automaker promised further integration of the system’s current features — such as intelligent voice-activated controls and remote software upgrades — as well as new ones.The new iDrive promises greater access to services from the digital cloud, plus increased awareness of the vehicle’s physical surroundings. It will recognize hazard warnings from other BMW vehicles on the road, predict the availability of parking spaces in certain situations, and enhance automated parking capabilities. The upcoming BMW iX electric crossover, expected to go into production in 2022, will be the first vehicle equipped with the updated iDrive system.FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES: UCONNECT 5The automaker behind brands such as Jeep, Dodge and Ram revealed new additions to its Uconnect Market services and the Uconnect 5 infotainment system. For instance, in one of the most topical announcements at CES, drivers will now be able to place Grubhub orders for contactless pickup through the Uconnect Market.The Android-based Uconnect 5 system will make its way into new vehicles later this year. Among them are the recently unveiled Jeep Compass and Grand Cherokee L, plus the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Key features include faster processing, support for higher-resolution screens, enhanced voice control, and wireless capability for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.GENERAL MOTORS: NEW EV INITIATIVEIn a wide-ranging keynote presentation that addressed everything from the practical to the fantastical — a single-seat drone aircraft, shown in a concept video, actually did make the cut — General Motors outlined its plans to accelerate the production and adoption of electric vehicles across a full spectrum of styles, sizes and brands.The automaker plans to introduce 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025, including an update to its Chevrolet Bolt hatchback and a larger crossover version as well. The Cadillac Lyriq is an electric crossover with a 33-inch digital display and the futuristic Celestiq will offer all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and a full glass roof. Eventually, the battery-powered platform underneath these vehicles will be applied to everything from performance cars to full-size pickup trucks, the company said.MERCEDES-BENZ: MBUX HYPERSCREENAutomakers have been racing to catch up with Tesla when it comes to large, splashy infotainment touchscreens. With the CES launch of its new MBUX Hyperscreen, a 56-inch digital display stretched across the entire dashboard without any dials or buttons, Mercedes has firmly set a new standard.The MBUX Hyperscreen builds upon the MBUX system in current Mercedes models with a larger surface and new user interface that aims to make it easier to use. It will debut on the upcoming EQS electric crossover as an optional feature. The real splash will come in a few short years when the Hyperscreen is available on standard Mercedes sedans and SUVs.EDMUNDS SAYSAutomakers were restrained in their announcements compared with years past, but the new tech features outlined at CES 2021 demonstrate the future of automotive progress will consist of incremental improvements rather than a sweeping, rapid revolution._____This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Ryan ZumMallen is a staff writer at Edmunds. Twitter: @zoomy575m; Instagram: zoomy575m.Related links: Edmunds: Top automotive tech at CES 2020: https://bit.ly/35yctU4 Audi e-tron GT Prototype First Drive: https://edmu.in/3i8qay7 Photo Info: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10lR7pF57OSpuGmk-zPSpTpvScZLzFp-J?usp=sharing
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Morgan Stanley saw its fourth-quarter profits surge 48% from a year earlier, as the Wall Street bank benefited from the market’s upward swing and investors jubilation for tech stocks and IPOs late last year. The New York-based firm posted a profit $3.39 billion, or $1.81 a share, up from $2.31 billion, or $1.30 a share, in the same period a year earlier. The results were significantly better than the $1.30-per-share profit that analysts had expected, according to FactSet. Like its primary competitor Goldman Sachs, who also saw a massive profit increase, Morgan Stanley saw a surge of revenue in its core investment banking and trading operations. Investment banking revenues were up 46% from a year earlier, mostly due to higher equity underwriting fees. Morgan Stanley has a large business taking companies public, and several large tech firms went public in the last three months of the year. That was a boon for the firm’s underwriting business. Trading revenue rose 32%. The stock market steadily moved higher the second half of 2020, which resulted in the stock market hitting several highs along the way. Bond trading revenues were also higher. Morgan Stanley’s wealth management arm, which the company grew over the last decade to help the firm find steadier sources of profits instead of the boom-bust cycle of markets, also had a strong quarter. Net revenues in the firm were up 24% from a year earlier.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the 11 weeks since Election Day, the collision of crises confronting President-elect Joe Biden have gone from staggering to almost unimaginable. More than 170,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 during that stretch alone, sending total U.S. deaths soaring past 400,000. The deep partisan divisions roiling the nation boiled over into violence during the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, threatening America's long history of peaceful transitions of power and resulting in the second impeachment of the outgoing president. The economy has steadily weakened, with employers cutting 140,000 jobs just in the month of December.It falls now to Biden, as he is sworn in on Wednesday, to both level with Americans about the deep trouble facing the nation and cast ahead to a brighter future. He will do so knowing that millions of Americans wrongly believe his election was illegitimate, fueled by the lie perpetuated by President Donald Trump.Trump himself won't be there to witness Biden's swearing in, having decided to defy tradition and leave Washington Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration. Taken together, it's as grim a moment as many Americans can remember and far from the celebration Biden, 78, likely imagined over the decades he has pined for the presidency. There will be no cheering crowd spread out before him on the National Mall when he takes the oath of office as a consequence of the pandemic, but there will be 25,000 National Guard troops securing the streets of Washington in response to the Capitol siege. Historians have put the challenges Biden faces on par with, or even beyond, what confronted Abraham Lincoln when he was inaugurated in 1861 to lead a nation splintering into civil war or Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he was sworn in during the depths of the Great Depression in 1933. But Lincoln and Roosevelt's presidencies are also a blueprint for the the ways American leaders have turned crises into opportunities, pulling people past the partisan divisions or ideological forces that can halt progress. “Crises present unique opportunities for large scale change in a way that an average moment might not,” said Lindsay Chervinsky, a presidential historian and author of “The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.” “The more intense the crisis, the more likely the country is to get behind someone to try to fix that — the concept of uniting in war or uniting against a common threat."But by some measures, Roosevelt and Lincoln had advantages Biden does not. Roosevelt's Democratic Party had solid majorities in Congress, helping him power through his expansive agenda. Lincoln's Republican majorities were added by the secessionist push that dwindled his opponents' ranks in Congress. Biden, meanwhile, will have the narrowest of Democratic majorities in Congress; in the 50-50 Senate, it will fall to soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris to break any ties. The Republican Party faces an existential crisis of its own making after the Trump era, and it's deeply uncertain how much cooperating with the new Democratic president fits into its leaders' plans for their future. Still, Biden has signaled he will press Congress aggressively in his opening weeks, challenging lawmakers to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package to address the public health and economic crisis — all but daring Republicans to block him at a moment when cases and deaths across the U.S. are soaring. Biden's ability to get that legislation passed will significantly shape both his administration's ability to tackle the pandemic and his overall standing in Washington. He's staked much of the promise of his presidency on his ability to court lawmakers from across the aisle, touting his long working relationship Republican senators and the reputation he cultivated as a dealmaker while serving as President Barack Obama's No. 2. But Washington has changed rapidly since then, a reality Biden's advisers insist he is clear-eyed about. Unlike Obama, he will quickly flex his executive powers on his first day in office, both to roll back Trump administration policies and to take action on the pandemic, including issuing a mask mandate on federal property. He's also pledged that his administration will vaccinate 100 million people against the coronavirus within his first 100 days in office, laying down a clear marker to judge his success or failure.Linda Belmonte, the dean of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a professor of history, said that while Biden would be “naive” to think Washington is the same as it was when he was a senator or even when he left it as vice president, the experience he brings to the job will be invaluable in this moment. “We don't have time for a learning curve,” Belmonte said. “I cannot think of a modern president that has faced a more daunting landscape."On the eve of his inauguration, Biden took stock not only of the challenges ahead but the path the nation has taken to get to this moment. As the sun set on the National Mall, he stood before the imposing memorial to Lincoln and called on the nation to remember the 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus. “To heal we must remember," he said. “That’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation.”___Editor's Note — Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for The Associated Press since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — FedEx plans to cut up to 6,300 jobs in Europe as it completes the process of folding a Dutch company it bought into its own delivery operation.FedEx said in a statement Tuesday that the cuts will take place over 18 months and include express-delivery operations and back-office employees of TNT Express across the continent. Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx said severance payments will cost between $300 million and $575 million through 2023, but that the job cuts will save the company between $275 million and $350 million a year beginning in 2024. The president of FedEx’s European express-delivery operation, Karen Reddington, said in a statement that the job cuts are crucial to make the company more competitive in a changing market.FedEx plans to downgrade an air-service hub in Liege, Belgium, to make Paris its sole primary hub. The company compared that set-up to its U.S. operation, where Memphis is the main hub and Indianapolis serves a secondary role.FedEx paid $4.8 billion to acquire TNT in 2016 and expand its presence in Europe against rivals such as Germany-based DHL. TNT had a major ground-delivery business in Europe. In buying TNT, FedEx succeeded where U.S. rival United Parcel Service had failed – European regulators blocked a UPS attempt to buy the company in 2013, arguing that a UPS-TNT combination would face inadequate competition on some routes and lead to higher prices.FedEx hoped TNT would help it take advantage of the growth in online shopping in Europe, but the acquisition has not gone smoothly.Europe was in the midst of an economic slowdown. Then TNT’s computer systems became infected during a worldwide cyberattack called NotPetya, causing FedEx to take a $300 million charge against earnings in 2017.FedEx said Tuesday that it has successfully integrated FedEx and TNT information-technology systems and key parts of the air and ground networks.
WASHINGTON (AP) — On his way out the door, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has hit China with new sanctions by declaring that China’s policies on Muslims and ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang Province constitute a “genocide.”Pompeo made the determination on Tuesday just 24 hours before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. There was no immediate response from the incoming Biden team, although several members have been sympathetic to such a designation in the past. Pompeo’s determination does not come with any immediate repercussions.Many of those accused of having taken part in repression in Xinjiang are already under U.S. sanctions, and Tuesday's move is the latest in a series of steps the outgoing Trump administration has taken against China.Since last year, the administration has steadily ramped up pressure on Beijing, imposing sanctions on numerous officials and companies for their activities in Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Those penalties have gotten harsher since the beginning of last year when President Donald Trump and Pompeo began to accuse China of trying to cover up the coronavirus pandemic. Just on Saturday, Pompeo lifted restrictions on U.S. diplomatic contacts with Taiwanese officials, prompting a stern rebuke from China, which regards the island as a renegade province.Five days ago, the administration announced it would halt imports of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang with Customs and Border Protection officials saying they would block products from there suspected of being produced with forced labor.Xinjiang is a major global supplier of cotton, so the order could have significant effects on international commerce. The Trump administration has already blocked imports from individual companies linked to forced labor in the region, and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Communist Party officials with prominent roles in the campaign.China has imprisoned more than 1 million people, including Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups, in a vast network of concentration camps, according to U.S. officials and human rights groups. People have been subjected to torture, sterilization and political indoctrination in addition to forced labor as part of an assimilation campaign in a region whose inhabitants are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han Chinese majority.China has denied all the charges, but Uighur forced labor has been linked by reporting from The Associated Press to various products imported to the U.S., including clothing and electronic goods such as cameras and computer monitors. China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic and social development in the region and stamp out radicalism. It also rejects criticism of what it considers its internal affairs.___ Ben Fox contributed.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — An auction house trying to raise money for a youth charity by soliciting bids to blow up a former casino once owned by President Donald Trump called off the effort Monday after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from conservative billionaire Carl Icahn.Icahn told The Associated Press his philanthropic arm will donate $175,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City to replace money that would have been raised by a charity auction of the right to press the button to demolish the former Trump Plaza casino.He owns the former casino, which has been in the process of demolition for months.Icahn's decision came shortly after Bodnar's Auction canceled its solicitation of bids, citing a letter from Icahn's company instructing it not to proceed with the auction because it considered the public “spectacle” to be a safety risk, with the possibility of flying debris injuring the person pressing the demolition button, or others gathered nearby.“From the beginning, we thought the auction and any other related spectacle presented a safety risk, and we were always clear that we would not participate in any way,” a spokesman for Icahn said in a statement. Last month, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small announced the auction as a fundraising mechanism he hoped would raise in excess of $1 million for the organization.Opened in 1984, Trump’s former casino was closed in 2014 and has fallen into such a state of disrepair that demolition work began last year. The remainder of the structure was to have been dynamited on Jan. 29, but that date has been pushed back.Small said he will announce the new demolition date on Thursday.The auction house said Monday it had no choice but to cancel the auction after hearing from Icahn's company.“After exhausting every avenue to bring the parties together to make this exciting event happen, we received the final decision from (Icahn) that we must cease and desist," Bodnar Auctions wrote in a post on its website. Company owner Joseph Bodnar told The Associated Press Monday he is working with Small to come up with a future auction “if possible.”Small acknowledged the auction's cancellation and praised Icahn for replacing the money it would have raised.“We agree with Mr. Icahn that public safety is paramount,” he said. “It is very important that we maintain a positive relationship with Mr. Icahn because the next conversation we need to have is what should be developed there."Trump, then a real-estate developer, opened the casino in a prime spot at the center of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk where the Atlantic City Expressway deposited cars entering the resort. It was the site of many high-profile boxing matches, which Trump would regularly attend.Trump cut most ties with Atlantic City in 2009 aside from a 10% fee for the use of his name on what were then three casinos in the city. That stake was extinguished when Icahn took ownership of the company out of bankruptcy court in February 2016.___Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is set to nominate Rohit Chopra as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, tapping a progressive ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to helm the agency whose creation she championed.Chopra, a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, helped launch the agency after the 2008 financial crisis and served as deputy director, where he sounded the alarm about skyrocketing levels of student loan debt. The pick comes as Democrats are eyeing ways to provide student loan relief to millions of Americans as part of a COVID-19 relief package.Biden announced the move Monday, along with his intent to nominate Gary Gensler, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as the next chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker, enhanced oversight of the complicated financial transactions that helped cause the Great Recession.