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TALKING POINTS

Fidelity to hire about 600 people in New England

JB Reed/Photographer: JB Reed/Bloomberg

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Fidelity to hire about 600 people in New England

Fidelity Investments plans to fill nearly 600 new client-facing and technology jobs in New England as part of a broader hiring push to hire about 4,000 people across the country this year. Fidelity spokeswoman Kim Reingold said the net new jobs would include about 50 technology roles in Boston, as well as about 525 jobs at the company’s Smithfield, R.I., and Merrimack, N.H., sites. As part of the hiring push announced Wednesday, Fidelity wants to expand its network of licensed financial planners to more than 20 new markets in the United States, and to increase its staff technologists by 10 percent, including software engineers and data scientists. The financial services giant launched a similarly large push around this time last year, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. By the end of the year, the company’s total workforce had grown by 4 percent, to 47,000 employees. Fidelity had hired more than 10,000 new associates in 2020 to keep up with surges in call-center and trading volume, but many were either for temporary jobs or to fill existing positions. — JON CHESTO

ENERGY

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National Grid invests in Somerville company

National Grid isn’t only a user of Somerville startup LineVision’s technology anymore. The British utility, with US headquarters in Waltham, also just became an investor. LineVision, which makes software to monitor and optimize power line use, unveiled a new round of funding on Wednesday totaling $12.5 million. Los Angeles investor UP Partners led the round of funding. National Grid’s venture arm, National Grid Partners, and Zoma Capital, also joined existing investors in LineVision in this round. The 15-person company plans to hire another 15 employees as a result of this financing. National Grid first started using LineVision’s V3 sensors in 2018, to optimize power lines in Massachusetts, and installed the sensors in New York as well in 2020. Investors are banking on LineVision’s sensors playing a key role as the country’s transportation and heating sectors are increasingly moved to electricity sources and away from natural gas and oil, putting more demand on the electric grid. — JON CHESTO

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DELIVERY

UPS buying electric-powered aircraft

UPS is buying 10 small electric-powered aircraft that take off like helicopters and fly like planes, aiming to reduce its costs from contracting with small air freighters to reach far-flung areas. The first delivery of the ALIA-250 from Stone Point Capital-backed Beta Technologies is expected in 2024, UPS said in a statement Wednesday, and the courier has an option to acquire as many as 150. While the vehicles will be piloted, UPS already envisions drone versions that could fly on their own and would be less costly to operate. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

TRADE

Deficit hit a record in February

The US trade deficit grew to a record $71.1 billion in February as a decline in exports more than offset a slight dip in imports. The February gap between what America buys from abroad compared to what it sells abroad jumped 4.8 percent above the revised January deficit of $67.8 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The year-to-date trade deficit after two months of 2021 is $138.9 billion, more than 68 percent higher than the $82.4 billion for January and February of 2020. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

RETAIL

Target to spend more than $2 billion at Black-owned companies

Target will spend a total of more than $2 billion at Black-owned businesses by 2025 as part of its effort to advance racial equity. That’s a significant increase in overall spending on Black-owned businesses, according to Target, though it declined be more specific Wednesday. The Minneapolis retailer will add a broad spectrum of products from more than 500 Black-owned businesses and will increase its spending at more Black-owned companies, from marketing to construction. It will also introduce new resources, like a dedicated team to help Black-owned suppliers scale their businesses to work with mass chains. The Forward Founders program builds off Target’s accelerator program that helps entrepreneurs. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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RETAIL

Saks is the latest department store to stop selling fur

Saks Fifth Avenue will close its fur salons and stop selling products made with animal fur by early 2023, part of a broader move by US department stores to stop selling such goods. The Saks fur salons will close by the end of this fiscal year, which concludes Jan. 29. The retailer will keep faux-fur on its shelves, along with products that include cattle hide, shearling, down, and leather. The movement against fur clothes has picked up momentum in recent years amid concerns of animal abuse, with department stores including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom halting sales. In 2019, the state of California banned sales of new clothing and accessories made of fur, and the law will go into effect in 2023. There are also proposed bans in New York and Hawaii. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RIDE HAILING

Uber to spend $250 million to get drivers back as pandemic eases

Uber said it will spend $250 million to get drivers back on the road and recruit new ones as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the United States. The money will go toward bonuses for drivers, guaranteed pay, and on-boarding for workers who are new to Uber, the company said Wednesday. The program anticipates an eventual rise in demand as more Americans are vaccinated and stores reopen. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

T-Mobile launches wireless home broadband

T-Mobile is trying to pull away from the pack in the 5G race with the introduction of a wireless home broadband service and a free-phone giveaway. Starting Wednesday, people in select areas can sign up for a $60-a-month Internet service with average speeds of 100 megabits per second. The service requires a combination receiver/Wi-Fi gateway device near a window. The service comes two years after Verizon Communications Inc. launched its 5G home internet, but the technology has been slow to take off so far. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Best Buy introduces membership program

Best Buy unveiled a new membership program that offers benefits including free installation and unlimited technical support as it looks to expand beyond just selling products and keep pace with Amazon. The electronics retailer said the pilot, dubbed Best Buy Beta and available in about 60 stores by the end of the month, will also include exclusive pricing, up to two years of protection on most purchases, free deliveries, and a concierge service that’s available to answer questions 24 hours a day. It will cost $199.99 a year, or $179.99 for those who hold the retailer’s branded credit card. — BLOOMBERG NEWS