Business News

AM Business Notebook

>>Oil Jumps On Israeli Attack

(Undated)  --  Oil priced surged three dollars a barrel overnight after Israel launched an attack on Iran before easing a bit.  Concerns over the potential disruption of Middle East oil was behind the jump.  Israel's action was in retaliation for an Iranian attack on the Jewish state last weekend, itself a retaliation for an Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria.

 

>>UAW Vote Ends Today AT VW Plant

(Chattanooga, TN)  --  Thousands of employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee are wrapping up voting today for unionization.  Governor Bill Lee has joined governors from five other states opposing the union.  Pro-union supporters believe the UAW will help improve safety and wages.  This is the third attempt at the plant in recent years to unionize.  Forbes, meanwhile, is reporting the UAW has also received approval for a union vote at two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama.  

 

>>Mortgage Rates Rising

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  Prospective homebuyers are feeling the squeeze as mortgage rates rise.  The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate jumped above seven-percent, its highest level in nearly five months.  Rising rates can add hundreds of dollars a month for borrowers.  The timing couldn't be worse with spring being the housing market's busiest time of the year.

 

>>New York Governor Says Budget Will Prevent Retail Theft

(New York, NY)  --  New York Governor Kathy Hochul says the state's soon-to-be passed budget will help crackdown on retail theft.  She said yesterday that 40-million-dollars of the fiscal plan will go towards dedicated retail theft investigation teams on the state and local level.  The budget also includes legislation that makes it illegal to foster the sale of stolen goods and increases the penalties for criminals who attack retail workers.  Business owners will also have access to a tax credit to cover the cost of security cameras.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Initial Jobless Claims Unchanged

(Washington, DC)  --  First time unemployment claims remain unchanged for the week ending April 13th.  There were 212-thousand initial jobless claims, according to the Labor Department.  Analysts had expected the number to be slightly higher at 215-thousand.

 

>>Boeing Whistleblowers Testify On Capitol Hill 

(Washington, DC)  --  Whistleblowers are accusing airplane manufacturer Boeing of covering up major safety and quality failures.  Boeing quality engineer Sam Salehpour testified during a Congressional hearing yesterday, and warned Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is unsafe to fly due to assembly flaws.  He told lawmakers he raised the issue with leadership for more than three years and was ignored.  His allegations follow an incident in January when a door plug panel off a Boeing plane mid-flight.  Ed Pierson, a former senior manager for Boeing, testified that the Alaskan Airlines incident is part of a "criminal cover-up" by Boeing's corporate leaders. 

 

>>President Biden Weighs In On Caitlin Clark's WNBA Salary

(Washington, DC)  --  President Biden is weighing in on Caitlin Clark's salary controversy.  The Iowa superstar will earn just over 338-thousand dollars over the next four years after being selected first by the WNBA's Indiana Fever.  By comparison, Spurs rookie star Victor Wembanyama - the Number one pick in last year's NBA Draft - signed a 55-million dollar four-year contract.  Biden posted that while women in sports are pushing boundaries, "even if you're the best, women are not paid their fair share."  The WNBA currently makes 60-million dollars million a season from their TV contracts, while the NBA makes two-point-seven-billion dollars annually.

 

>>Billionaire Says Paying Taxes Is Patriotic

(Dallas, TX)  --  It has been a rough week for many who got that huge bill from the IRS.  But one of the wealthiest Texans didn't mind.  Mark Cuban took to social media to brag about paying 275-million-dollars in taxes.  He said, "I pay what I owe" and added that he's proud to pay an income tax that he called "patriotic."  The owner of the Dallas Mavericks has a net worth of more than five-billion dollars and says his tax bill is almost all from capital gains. 

 

>>Tesla Shareholders Asked To Vote On Same Elon Musk Pay Package

(Dover, DE)  --  Tesla shareholders are being asked to vote once again on a pay package for CEO Elon Musk.  The move was just revealed yesterday in a filing with federal regulators.  It's the same as the one that previously passed but was voided by the Delaware court system.  The 2018 plan was created to encourage Musk to hit a series of increasingly difficult-to-achieve financial milestones.  However in January, the plan was struck down when it was revealed that shareholders were not properly informed about the deal.  Musk has not been paid since 2018 for any of his work with Tesla.  The vote is scheduled for June 13th. 

 

>>Stellantis CEO's Pay Package Approved By Shareholders

(Undated)  -- The CEO of automaker Stellantis will be the highest paid leader of a traditional auto manufacturer after a vote by shareholders.  They approved a pay package totaling 39-million dollars for Carlos Tavares.  The move came despite objections from some investment groups.  The move was approved despite criticism of Stellantis in the U.S. and Italy for cutting thousands of jobs.  Tavares has imposed tough policies to reduce costs at the automaker while they shift to build more electric vehicles.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>FTX Co-Founder Appeals 25-Year Sentence

(New York, NY)  --  FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried [[ freed ]] is appealing his 25-year prison sentence.  The so-called "Crypto King" was sentenced last month on charges of fraud and conspiracy after it was discovered he illegally used client and lenders' money to pay for private planes, land in the Caribbean, and bribes to Chinese officials.  On Thursday, Bankman-Fried appealed the conviction.  His lawyers have argued that a long prison sentence is unfair since investors are expected to get their money back.  

 

>>Low Income Internet Users Could See Their Monthly Subsidy Halved In May

(New York, NY)  --  The FCC says if Congress doesn't extend the Affordable Connectivity Program, millions of people will lose internet service. The Affordable Connectivity Program is a pandemic-era benefit that provides monthly discounts on internet service to more than 23 million US households, including seniors, veterans and schoolchildren.  When Congress created the program in 2021, it promised low-income households a discount of up to 30-dollars a month on internet service, and it funded the program with a one-time infusion of 14-billion dollars.  Subscribers will now have to pay hundreds of dollars more per year to stay online, or give up internet service entirely. The Biden administration has blamed congressional Republicans for standing in the way of legislation that could renew the ACP.   

 

>>Producer Price Index Heats Up At Fastest Pace In A Year

(Washington, DC)  --  A key inflation metric is increasing at its fastest pace since this time last year. The Producer Price Index, a measure of inflation at the wholesale level, went up over two-percent for the 12 months ending in March. That's up from just one-point-six-percent in February, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The speed-up comes as the Consumer Price Index also brings up concerns about both inflation and interest rates staying higher for longer.

 

>>Mortgage Rates On The Rise

(Washington, DC)  --  Mortgage rates are on the rise and could continue further.  According to data from Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged six-point-eight-eight percent this week.  That's up from six-point-eight-two percent the previous week.  While rates have mostly held steady recently, they could potentially cross seven-percent if inflation continues on its hotter-than-expected path. 

 

>>Amazon Ordered To Pay Chicago-Based Tech Company For Patent Infringement

(Chicago, IL)  --  A federal jury is ordering Amazon to pay more than 500-million-dollars to a Chicago-based tech company for patent infringement.  Kove accused Amazon Web Services of infringement in a lawsuit filed in 2018.  The suit claimed the subsidiary of the e-commerce giant used the firm's technology as a building block for some of its cloud services.  The jury found yesterday that Amazon Web Services infringed on multiple patents invented by Kove. 

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden Believes Fed Will Cut Rates Before End Of Year

(Washington, DC)  --  President Biden says he still believes the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates before the end of the year.  That's what he told reporters yesterday after new data showed inflation increased in March.  Biden emphasized inflation has dropped significantly over the three years he's been in office.  He claimed that his Republican opponents "have no plan" to tackle inflation.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 12-month price growth accelerated from three-point-two percent in February to three-point-five percent in March.

 

>>Redfin: Median Rents Raise For Third Straight Month 

(New York, NY)  --  Rent prices are up for the third straight month.  According to real estate company Redfin, they're also up point-eight-percent from last year.  Median rent as of March is at one-thousand-nine-hundred-and-87-dollars.  Rents had cooled in the previous three-month period, but they're now beginning to rise again along with inflation. 

 

>>eBay Adds AI-Powered "Shop to Look" Feature

(San Jose, CA)  --  eBay is adding a generative AI-powered "shop the look" feature.  App users who are fashion enthusiasts will see suggestions to compliment their current wardrobes based on their shopping history. The new feature is initially available only on iPhones.

 

>>Experts Predict Record-Breaking Summer Travel Season

(Undated)  --  Experts say this summer will bring record-breaking travel numbers.  Close to five-billion people are expected to travel around the world, breaking a previous record and surpassing pre-pandemic levels.  In the United States, over 90-percent of Americans say they plan to take a trip.  Despite this, many airlines have slowed their operations due to uncertainty around Boeing planes after the company's problems.
 

AM Business Noteook

>>Boeing Quarterly Plane Deliveries Drop

(Chicago, IL)  --  Boeing aircraft deliveries slumped in the first quarter as it struggled with safety issues.  The company delivered 83 planes in the three months that ended on March 31st.  That's down from 157 in the previous quarter.  The latest numbers come after a door plug blew out from an Alaska Airlines Flight involving a Boeing 737 Max 9 in early January.  

 

>>Spirit Airlines Cuts

(Miramar, FL)  --  Spirit Airlines is deferring aircraft deliveries to the end of 2026 and will furlough around 260 pilots this year.  They say this will boost cash to the airline by about 340-million-dollars over the next two years.  Spirit President and Chief Executive Ted Christie says the airline will offer an investor update by April 15th.  Spirit's flight attendants' union told its members there is no plan to furlough cabin crew, but voluntary time-off programs will be offered. 

 

>>VW Employees Prep For UAW Vote

(Chattanooga, TN)  --  Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee are gearing up to vote for unionization next week.  Republican Governor Bill Lee has gone on the record as saying workers should think about their decision to unionize which he believes would be "a big mistake."  Pro-union supporters believe the UAW will help improve safety and wages.  The vote is scheduled to be held April 17th through the 19th.  

 

>>Graduate Student Strike Continues At BU

(Boston, MA)  --  A strike by about three thousand unionized graduate student workers at Boston University is now in its second week.  They work as researchers and as teaching assistants and they are at odds with the university over wages, health care benefits and work loads.  BU sent a letter to faculty and staff this week claiming the union has rejected an offer of federal mediation for contract negotiations. 

 

>>Record Number Of U.S. Cities Boast $1 MIllion Homes

(Seattle, WA)  --  A record number of U.S. cities now have million-dollar homes.  A new analysis by Zillow shows 550 places where a typical home is worth than a million dollars.  That beats the previous record of 522 cities when home values peaked in 2022.  Zillow's chief economist says this year's gain reflects high demand and tight supply in the housing market.  California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts top the 2024 list with the most million-dollar cities.

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden Announces New Actions On Student Debt 

(Madison, WI)  --  President Biden is laying out a new plan to forgive student loan debt.  While visiting Madison, Wisconsin Monday, Biden announced a set of actions he says would benefit tens of millions of Americans.  Among them is forgiving unpaid interest for individuals who now owe more on their loans than they originally borrowed.  The plan would also forgive some debt for borrowers who have carried their loans for decades.   It's the latest attempt by Biden to cancel student debt after the Supreme Court blocked his sweeping cancellation plan last year.  The administration plans to propose the new regulations for public comment in the coming months, and it's expected to face legal challenges. 

 

>>Biden, Kishida To Meet Wednesday

(Washington, DC)  --  President Biden meets with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Wednesday in Washington, where the two are expected to announce several new agreements.  A new deal on bolstering chipmaking and strengthening supply chains will likely be on the table.  Before leaving for the U.S. Monday, Kishida said he wants to reinforce the fact that the U.S. and Japan are global partners.  

 

>>Schumer Concerned With Capital One Proposed Takeover Of Discover 

(New York, NY)  --  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is concerned about Capital One's proposed acquisition of Discover.  The New York Democrat put out a statement saying less competition in the credit card marketplace could mean higher interest rates, bigger fees and higher penalties.  Capital One responded saying the potential acquisition will lead to strong benefits for consumers and merchants and that the company looks forward to working with Senator Schumer and his staff to address their questions.  Capital One is awaiting approval from regulators to take over Discover. 

 

>>Atlanta Former CFO Pleads Guilty

(Atlanta, GA)  --  A former chief financial officer for the city of Atlanta is facing potential prison time.  Jim Beard entered a guilty plea yesterday to federal program theft yesterday.  He was accused of using a city credit card to pay for thousands-of-dollars in personal expenses before he left office in 2018.  Eight others have already been sentenced to prison for anything ranging from bribery to fraud connected to City Hall when Kasim Reed was mayor.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Solar Eclipse Could Bring Boom To Businesses

(Undated)  --  Today's solar eclipse will briefly block out the sun, but it's expected to shine some light into the economy.  As millions prepare to witness the rare celestial event, experts are forecasting upwards of a one-point-five-billion-dollar boost to businesses within the eclipse's corridor.  Lodging and travel, such as Airbnb, hotels and airlines, will be the major beneficiaries with an estimated four million travelers on the move along its path from Texas to Maine.  Retailers are also expected to continue seeing an uptick in sales for eclipse-related products, from viewing glasses to portable chairs.  History shows the stock market is likely to have a positive response with the Dow finishing the year with notable gains 10 times out of 13 total solar eclipse events since 1900.

 

>>Experts Warn Against Fake Eclipse Glasses

(Washington, DC)  --  Experts are warning people about fake eclipse glasses.  The American Astronomical Society is reminding stargazers to wear only approved eclipse glasses to watch today's event, and to make sure they aren't counterfeit.  Real eclipse glasses are specially made to block almost all visible light, but the AAS notes the market is full of cheap knockoffs that could cause blindness.  The society has provided a list of reputable makers of eclipse eye protection, for the roughly 32 million people who will be able to see the total solar eclipse where they live.

 

>>Brazilian Judge Orders Inquiry Into Elon Musk

(Brasilia)  --  A Brazilian supreme court judge is opening an inquiry into Elon Musk after Musk said he would reactivate some accounts on his social media platform X.  The accounts in question had been ordered blocked by the judge.  Musk countered by saying he would re-instate the accounts and that the judge should resign.  It's not clear which accounts were ordered blocked but the judge is investigating fake news and hate messages spread online during the presidency of far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro [[ JAA-eer BOL-zo-na-ro ]].  The judge is threatening fines of nearly 20-thousand-dollars a day if Musk does not comply.

 

>>Meta Wants Antitrust Case Dismissed

(Undated)  --  Facebook parent company Meta is asking a federal judge to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust case against them.  The FTC sued Meta back in 2020, claiming the company illegally maintained a monopoly on personal social media by its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.  Now, Meta claims the Federal Trade Commission has failed to provide plausible evidence in their ongoing antitrust lawsuit.  The social media giant has asked the judge to dismiss the case entirely.  

 

>>Apple Lays Off Hundreds 

(Santa Clara, CA)  --  Apple is laying off over 600 people from eight different locations in Santa Clara, California.  No layoffs are scheduled for the company's main campus in Cupertino.  The tech company filed a WARN Notice about the planned layoffs but did not say if it was in relation to any projects.  Those notified will be out of work effective late next month
 

AM Business Report

>>303,000 New Jobs Added In March 

(Washington, DC)  --  The monthly jobs report is more than meeting expectations.  The Labor Department reports the economy added 303-thousand new jobs in March, far exceeding the 200-thousand most analysts had forecast.  The unemployment rate saw little change, coming in at three-point-eight percent.

 

>>NY AG Wants Trump To Prove He Can Post Bond

(New York, NY)  --  New York's Democratic attorney general wants the company providing Donald Trump his 175-million-dollar bond to prove it actually has the money.  Letitia [[ lah-tee-sha ]] James asked an appeals court Thursday to make Trump provide the proof in case his appeal of his civil case fails.  James won a 454-million judgment against Trump after he was found guilty of over-inflating the value of his properties to get more favorable bank loans. The bond paused the judgment while Trump appeals the verdict.  If the court agrees with James, Trump will have 10 days to prove the company is solvent.  

 

>>Disney+ To Begin Password Sharing Crackdown In June

(New York, NY)  --  Disney-Plus will start cracking down on password sharing this summer.  In an interview with CNBC Thursday, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the crackdown will begin in June in some countries.  It will then expand to other countries in September.  This comes after streaming rival Netflix has seen a jump in subscribers since it started restricting password sharing last May.  Hulu, another of Disney's streaming services, began to limit how often account login information can be shared outside a customer's household last month.

 

>>Ford Delays EV Pickup Truck And SUV Rollout

(Dearborn, MI)  --  Ford is delaying production for its new electric pickup truck and SUV.  This comes as the demand for EV's hasn't developed the way executives had hoped.  But the Michigan-based company will continue to expand its hybrid vehicle offerings with the hopes of "hybrid powertrains" across its gas-powered car lineup by the end of the decade.  Ford is pushing back its EV pickup truck and SUV rollout  to 2026 an 2027.

 

>>NASA Names Three Firms To Develop Lunar Rover

(Washington, DC)  --  NASA is awarding contracts to three private U.S. companies to create lunar rovers for the upcoming Moon mission.  The space agency on Wednesday said Intuitive Machines of Texas, Lunar Outpost of Colorado and Venturi Astrolab of California were chosen to create designs for the rover.  One of those companies will be chosen to carry out a test run for the Artemis Five mission, which will send astronauts to the Moon in 2029.  NASA says the winning bid will be tasked with handling the "extreme conditions at the Moon's south pole."  It will be the first astronaut mission to the Moon since 1972.  

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve Considers Leaving Rates High For Longer

(Washington, DC)  --  It appears the Federal Reserve won't be cutting interest rates anytime soon. That comes after higher-than-expected inflation readings for the beginning of the year.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that it's "too soon to say whether the recent readings represent more than just a bump." Interest rates currently stand at five-and-a-quarter and five-and-a-half. 

 

>>Senator Bernie Sanders Advocates For Four Day Work Week

(Washington, DC)  --  Senator Bernie Sanders is advocating for a four-day work week.  The Independent lawmaker from Vermont wrote a CNN op-ed saying "the wealthiest people in this country have never had it so good." Sanders said a 32-hour work week with no loss in pay is an important step in standing up for working families. He cited a study by the Rand Corporation, which notes that while the wealthy are doing well, weekly wages for the average American worker have actually gone down, adjusting for inflation.

 

>>Report: Spotify Planning Price Increases

(New York, NY)  --  Spotify users will see another price jump this year.  That's according to a report from Bloomberg.  The outlet says the music streaming service plans to raise the price for individual subscription plans by a dollar and two dollars for duos and family subscribers later this year.  Spotify last raised monthly subscription prices to about eleven-dollars for individuals and around 17-bucks for families last July.  Bloomberg also reports Spotify will also begin to offer a new music and podcasts only subscription tier for eleven-dollars a month, with audiobooks costing extra for those subscribers.

 

>>Taxpayers Should Take Precautions Against Fraudsters

(New York, NY)  --  Tax Day is less than two weeks away, but there's still ample time for fraudsters to try to steal filers' personal information.  If you receive an email, text, or call from an unknown company offering to assess your potential tax savings or get you a bigger refund, be wary.  One of the easiest ways to spot a scam is when a taxpayer hires someone to prepare a return and information on the paid preparer section is missing or says "self-prepared."  The IRS says it will never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media. The IRS received over 290-thousand and complaints of identity theft last year - and identified more than five-point-five billion in tax fraud.  Tax Day is April 15th.

 

>>Iger Discusses Disney's Future 

(Anaheim, CA)  --  Disney's critics may like what CEO Bob Iger is saying.  Iger said during yesterday's shareholder meeting that Disney's job is not to advance any kind of agenda.  He says its job is to entertain, first and foremost.  Iger also told shareholders that they've turned the corner and entered a new positive era for the Walt Disney Company. 

 

>>Florida Governor DeSantis Signs Food Delivery Bill Into Law

(Tallahassee, FL)  --  Florida is trying to toughen regulations for food delivery platforms.  Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law this week that will give the state regulatory control over the services, like UberEats and GrubHub.  It will also require the platforms to have the consent of restaurants before taking orders.  The goal is to prevent companies from altering prices listed at local businesses. 
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Possible Fed Rate Cuts Remain Unclear 

(Cleveland, OH)  --  A top official is throwing cold water on the chance of an interest rate cut anytime soon.  Cleveland's Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said she's unlikely to support a cut at the Fed's May meeting.  She doesn't expect to have enough data by that time to determine whether inflation is headed back down to its two-percent target for sure.  More on where things are headed will likely be revealed today when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at the Stanford Business, Government, and Society Forum in Stanford, California. 

 

>>Tesla Sales Fall As EV Competition Rises

(Austin, TX)  --  Tesla sales are falling with rising competition in the electric vehicle manufacturing sector. That comes even with the Austin-based company lowering prices. Tesla said it delivered nearly 387-thousand vehicles from January through March 2024. That's down from the same period last year, when the Elon Musk-led company delivered more than 484-thousand. The company attributes the decline partly to factories shutting down with shipping difficulties in the Red Sea, along with a German factory losing power from an arson attack.

 

>>NYC's Congestion Pricing Plan Heads To Court

(Newark, NJ)  --  A federal judge will hear arguments today over New York City's plan to charge a 15-dollar toll for cars driving into Manhattan.  The first-in-the-nation so-called "congestion pricing" plan is supported by the city's transit authority and the federal government as a way to reduce traffic and pollution in the city.  New Jersey is opposed to the law, arguing it won't do much except place a burden on thousands of commuters from the Garden State.  

 

>>Disneyland Is Dumping Gas-Powered Autopia Cars

(Anaheim, CA)  --  Disneyland is sending Autopia's gas-powered cars to the junk heap. The miniature cars of the future were originally designed in the 1950s for the theme park's Tomorrow Land. But in today's world, the attraction's exhaust fumes are a constant reminder of yesterday.  Disneyland plans to electrify the attraction within the next few years as part of a park-wide push for sustainability.  

 

>>Taylor Swift Joins Forbes Billionaires List

(New York, NY)  --  Taylor Swift is on Forbes' World's Billionaires list. The singer-songwriter ranked at number two-thousand-545 on this year's list with a one-point-one billion-dollar net worth. According to Forbes, Swift is "the first musician to make the ranks solely based on her songs and performances." It also says her fortune includes more than 500-million-dollars in estimated wealth from touring, royalties, and her music catalog on top of about 125-million in real estate.

 

>>Younger Workers Are Flocking To Skilled Trades

(New York, NY)  --  Enrollment in vocational training programs is surging, while enrollment in community colleges and four-year institutions is falling. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse, the number of students enrolled in vocational community colleges rose 16-percent last year, construction trades rose 23-percent, and programs covering HVAC and vehicle maintenance increased by seven-percent.  Meanwhile, the median pay for new construction hires rose five-percent to 48-thousand dollars last year.  A Jobber survey of high school and college-age people found that 75-percent said they would be interested in vocational schools offering paid, on-the-job training.

AM Business Notebook

>>Trump Media Shares Take A Significant Hit 

(New York, NY)  --  Shares of Trump Media took a tumble Monday.  Stock in the newly-publicly traded social media company of former President Trump plunged more than 20 percent after the company reported a net loss of 58 million dollars in 2023.  Despite the drop, the company's market value was still more than six-point-eight billion dollars.  A filing with the SEC says TMTG expects to incur operating losses "for the foreseeable future."  It also warns shareholders Trump's involvement in the company could put it at greater risk than other social media companies.

 

>>United Airlines Asks Pilots To Take Unpaid Time Off In May

(Chicago, IL)  --  United Airlines is asking pilots to take unpaid time off in May.  In a note to pilots, the carrier cited delays in receiving new aircraft from Boeing.  The United chapter of the Airline Pilot's Association notified members it expects the company to offer more voluntary time off potentially through this summer.  United previously indicated it would pause the hiring of new pilots this spring due to Boeing's delivery delays. 

 

>>Redfin: 1 In Every 3 Home Purchases Made In Cash

(Washington, DC)  --  More than one in every three home purchases in February were made with cash. That's according to a new report from the real estate company Redfin. The new numbers come as mortgage rates remain high. That all-cash purchase rate is close to the record high of 38-percent from 2013. According to Redfin, the median down payment for a house is also up over 24-percent from this time last year.

 

>>Immediate Pay Raise Announced For NYC Food Delivery Workers 

(New York, NY)  --  Food delivery workers in New York City are getting a pay raise.  Mayor Eric Adams has announced that, effective immediately, the city's minimum wage for app-based restaurant delivery workers is now 19-56 an hour before tips.  It follows last year's hike to nearly 18-dollars an hour and reflects a 2024 increase as well as an adjustment for inflation.  That's a massive leap from the five-39 average that apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub used to pay their delivery workers before the city began enforcing the minimum pay rate in December. 

 

>>Gen Z Stressing About Filing Tax Returns

(Undated)  --  Generation Z is stressed out about filing a tax return. According to a recent Cash App Taxes survey, one in four members of this age group say they need to see a therapist to deal with tax filing stress.  Tax preparers say it is not uncommon for a Gen Z client to be filing a tax return for the first time.  Often, they are unaware of the basics, like where to get a 1099 or even what a 1099 is.  Generation Z is anyone born between 1997 and 2012.  

 

>>Controversy Over New EPA Rules On Truck Emissions

(Washington, DC)  --  The EPA is facing push-back over new rules regulating trucking emissions.  This, after the agency approved rules limiting emissions of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants by trucking companies.  The rules are aimed at pushing companies to adopt electric vehicles in order to stay in compliance.  Critics say they will cost trucking companies millions, costs that will get passed on to the consumer.  Supporters insist the rules will save trucking companies money in the long term and provide numerous climate and health benefits.
 

AM Business Notebook

 

>>What To Watch For In The Business Week Ahead

(Undated) -- Coming up in the business week ahead, the markets reopen after being closed for Good Friday. Today brings word on construction spending, with job openings data and auto sales numbers the following day. ADP releases its employment report on Wednesday and later in the day Fed Chair Jerome Powell is set to deliver remarks. Weekly jobless claims are out on Thursday and the week wraps up Friday highlighted by the monthly jobs report.

 

>>Powell: Inflation Data In line With Expectations

(San Francisco, CA) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the latest inflation data is in line with the central bank's expectations. Speaking in San Francisco late last week, Powell said it won't be appropriate to lower interest rates until officials are confident inflation is on track to the Fed's two-percent goal. The Commerce Department's Personal Consumption Expenditures price index shows prices rose three-tenths of a percent last month. Experts say it makes it more likely the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of interest rate cuts this year.

 

>>California's $20 Fast Food Minimum Wage Starts Today

(Sacramento, CA) -- California's new 20-dollar an hour minimum wage for fast food workers is set to start today. Democrats in the state Legislature passed the law last year saying, more than a half-million workers are not just teenagers trying to earn some spending money. The law was supported by the trade association representing fast food franchise owners.

 

>>AT&T Confirms Major Breach

(Undated) -- AT&T has announced a major breach in its security. On Saturday, the company confirmed a total of 73-million current and former customer accounts had been leaked to the dark web about two weeks ago. The leaked data, which included customers' social security numbers, appears to be from before 2020. AT&T says they currently have no evidence "of unauthorized access to its systems." An investigation into the breach is ongoing.

 

>>Kia Recalling Over 400-Thousand Telluride SUVs

(Undated) -- More than 400-thousand cars are being recalled by Kia. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says certain Telluride SUV models could roll away while in park because shaft components may not be fully engaged. The recall includes 2020-2024 model years. No injuries have been reported, but Kia says owners should use the emergency parking brake until their cars are fixed.

AM Business Notebook

>>Baltimore Bridge Collapse Financial Fallout

(New York, NY)  --  Following the collapse Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Tuesday, it's unknown when the port of Baltimore will be reopening, but the economic impacts of the shutdown are beginning to come to light. Logistics experts say a broader economic impact would likely be limited because of the large number of alternate highways and seaports along the east coast.  For the city of Baltimore, the economic impacts of the bridge collapse will hit harder and last longer.  The Baltimore port directly employs over 15-thousand workers - many, of whom will be temporarily furloughed -- and indirectly supports nearly 140-thousand jobs.  According to economist, overall, any economic disruption from Tuesday's bridge collapse will likely cycle through the economy in the next few weeks, and be unnoticeable by late April.

 

>>FTX Co-Founder Sentenced To 25 Years In Crypto Fraud

(New York, NY)  --  FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried [[ freed ]] has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars in his company's cryptocurrency collapse.  The sentence was handed down on Thursday in the same Manhattan courtroom where the so-called "Crypto King" was convicted of fraud and conspiracy just four months ago.  Federal prosecutors were seeking up to 50 years in prison for Bankman-Fried while his lawyers sought six-and-half-years in a ten-billion-dollar fraud scheme. The 32-year-old apologized the court, saying the collapse of FTX haunts him every day.  The one-time crypto mogul was convicted of illegally using client and lenders' money to pay for private planes, land in the Caribbean and bribes to Chinese officials.

 

>>Workers Accuse Boeing of Retaliation For Safety Claims

(San Antonio, TX)  -- Some Texas-based Boeing plant workers are accusing the company of firing staff who brought up safety concerns. The company recently announced its president will leave at the end of the year and other top administrative changes following repercussions when a door plug panel came off an Alaska Airlines flight in early January. Employees at Boeing's Port of San Antonio plant filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The complaint says firings came after safety complaints were given to plant managers. A spokesperson for Boeing denies the allegations.   

 

>>Wealth Of 1% Hits Record $44 Trillion

(Washington, DC)  --  The wealthiest one percent just got richer.  The Federal Reserve reported the top one percent reached a record 44 trillion dollars in combined wealth at the end of last year.  The most recent gains came from stock value increases which netted over two trillion dollars in the fourth quarter.  The one percent own around half of individually held stocks.  Since 2020, their wealth has increased by almost 15 trillion dollars.

 

>>Corporate Profits Boom In Fourth Quarter Of 2023

(Washington, DC)  --  A lot of U.S. companies are doing well as the economy boomed in 2023's fourth quarter. Gross domestic product and corporate profits exceeded expectations, with economists pointing to the lingering effects of pandemic stimulus. GDP increased nearly three-and-a-half percent, above the forecasted three-point-two, according to data from the Commerce Department.  And adjusted profits after taxes for corporations hit a record high of two-point-eight trillion dollars.

 

>>Brother Of Jared Kushner Buys Life Magazine

(New York, NY)  --  Jared Kushner's brother is purchasing Life Magazine. Josh Kushner and his super-model wife Karlie Kloss bought the publication rights to the magazine for an undisclosed sum.  Life was owned by media-mogul Barry Diller, who will still retain the rights to the magazine's content archive.  The magazine went online in 2008, but Kloss reportedly plans to resume print publication.  Jared Kushner is the son-in-law and former advisor of Donald Trump. 

 

>>Amazon Adds $2.75B To Its Investment in AI Startup Anthropic 

(Seattle, WA)  --  Amazon is throwing more money at its investment in AI startup Anthropic.  The online retail giant announced Wednesday it added two-point-75 billion dollars to its one-point-25 billion investment, making the San Francisco startup Amazon's most important partner.  Amazon says the partnership will further improve customers' experience.  Anthropic competes with companies like OpenAI and Google to build artificial intelligence systems.  

 

>>Godzilla And Kong To Dominate Box Office

(Los Angeles, CA)  --  Godzilla is crushing it at the box office.  "Godzilla and Kong: The New Empire" has already made eight-million dollars on its opening weekend, just from Thursday previews alone.  "Deadline" says that's the second-best previews ever for a Warner Brothers monster movie.  "Godzilla and Kong" is expected to make 50-million dollars in U.S. theaters this weekend, and 135-million worldwide.  It's the latest in a string of successful franchise movies, including "Dune: Part Two," "Kung Fu Panda 4" and "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire."

AM Business Notebook

>>Sam Bankman-Fried Guilty To Learn Fate 

(New York, NY)  --  After being found guilty late last year on seven federal counts of fraud and conspiracy, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is set to be sentenced today.  Federal prosecutors are seeking up to 50 years in prison for the 32-year-old. 

 

>>People Expected To Spend Less For Easter

(Undated)  --  People are expected to spend less for Easter this year.  The National Retail Federation predicts spending will total 22.4 billion dollars.  That would be a seven percent decline from last year.

 

>>Dollar Tree Hikes Prices

(Ghent, WV)  --  Dollar Tree is raising its prices again. In an earnings call, the company said it would add hundreds of new items to its shelves, but at higher price points. Now, the higher-end of prices sold at Dollar Tree will be seven dollars. The company's CEO said prices will start at a dollar-fifty. According to Yahoo Finance, Dollar Tree implemented a five-dollar price cap in June 2023.

 

>>Some Costcos To Require Membership To Eat At Food Court 

(Issaquah, WA)  --  The Costco food court may soon be for members only.  Shopping at Costco requires an annual membership fee of 60 dollars, but members and non-members alike have been able to enjoy the discount hot dogs and pizza slices at the retailer's popular food courts.  Some Costcos, however, are now posting signs saying effective April 8th, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from the food court.  It's not clear if all Costcos will be adopting the new food court policy, and Costco has not commented publicly on the signs.

  

>>Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura Starts Cannabis Edible Company

(Columbia Heights, MN)  --  Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is getting into the cannabis edibles business.  Ventura is partnering with Columbia Heights-based Retro Bakery to produce edibles under the Jesse Ventura Farms brand.  Ventura has been a big supporter of legalizing cannabis in Minnesota, saying his wife was able to bring her seizures under control using the drug.  The product will be available for pre-orders on Monday.

AM Business Notebook

>>Trump Media Stock Jumps 50% In Market Debut 

(New York NY)  --  Shares in former President Trump's social media company jumped more than 50 percent after it began public trading morning under the ticker symbol DJT on Wall Street.  Trading in the Trump Media & Technology Group was briefly halted just before 10 am due to volatility.  Its market valuation was about two-and-half billion dollars in early trading on the Nasdaq.  Trump's net worth has reportedly soared to six-point-five-billion after the stocked jumped.

 

>>Visa And Mastercard Reach Settlement With Merchants Over Fees

(New York, NY)  --  Visa and Mastercard are coming to a settlement to lower "merchant fees" that could potentially save consumers billions.  The fees credit card companies charge to small and large businesses usually cost merchants two-percent of the transaction, and that is passed along to consumers.  The settlement forces credit card companies to cap the fee over the next five years, then negotiate a new "swipe-fee" with merchants.  The companies have been making billions for the additional "swipe-fee" paid by merchants. 

 

>>Amazon Launches Same-Day Prescription Service In 2 Major Cities 

(New York, NY)  --  Amazon is launching a same-day medication prescription delivery service in two major cities.  The prescriptions will be offered in Los Angeles and New York City through Amazon's online pharmacy service, which launched in 2020.  The company says smaller facilities will be used to complete the orders and they'll be stocked with the most common prescription medications and equipped to process a prescription "within a matter of minutes, rather than hours or days."  

 

>>Apple Faces Three Consumer Lawsuits

(Cupertino, CA)  --  Apple is facing three new consumer lawsuits that claim it is monopolizing the smartphone market.  The class actions were filed by Android users in California and New Jersey.  The claims allege that Apple keeps certain essential apps, services, and hardware exclusive to the iPhone, thus maintaining a monopoly by eliminating competition with Android smartphones.

 

>>Landlord Asks Judge To Evict MyPillow From Warehouse

(Shakopee, MN)  --  A landlord for one of MyPillow's manufacturing facilities in Minnesota is asking a judge to evict the company.  According to court documents, MyPillow has failed to pay more than 200-thousand-dollars in rent over the last few months for the facility in Shakopee.  CEO Mike Lindell, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, has been very public about his financial struggles.  He says his company has lost a hundred million dollars after retailers and shopping networks dropped his products when he started spreading election fraud claims about the 2020 presidential race.  A judge has said that the eviction order will be granted.

AM Business Notebook

>>Judge Dismisses Elon Musk's Lawsuit Against -Hate Speech Watchdog Group

(San Francisco, CA)  --  A judge is dismissing a lawsuit from Elon Musk against a hate-speech oversight group. The owner of X alleged in his case that the Center for Countering Digital Hate illegally gathered data from the social media platform to report on the spread of hate speech and misinformation online. Judge Charles Breyer ruled that the lawsuit sought to "punish" the CCDH. He wrote that Musk's complaint "is so unabashedly and vociferously about one thing that there can be no mistaking that purpose."

 

>>Boeing CEO Out

(Arlington, VA)  --  Boeing's CEO will step down at the end of the year.  The company issued a statement yesterday confirming that Dave Calhoun and two other senior executives will be leaving the company.  This comes as Boeing continues to deal with the fallout following a number of incidents involving their planes.  In a letter to staff, Calhoun said the incident involving a door plug blowing out on an Alaska Airlines flight "was a watershed moment for Boeing" and the company "must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency."  Last week, the head of the FAA said Boeing must shift its focus to improving safety standards.  

 

>>Trump Joins Bloomberg 500 Wealthiest

(Undated)  --  Former President Trump is joining the Bloomberg list of the 500 wealthiest people in the world.  Trump made the list after his media company, Truth Social, completed a merger that will allow it to make its debut on the stock market.  The deal could net him upwards of four-billion dollars.  Trump owns almost 60-percent of the new company, but is barred from selling shares for at least six months.

 

>>New Home Sales Dip In Februrary

(Washington, DC)  --  New home sales dipped slightly in February as mortgage rates remain high.  Figures from the Commerce Department show sales of new single-family homes slipped three-tenths of a percent below January's revised annual rate of 664-thousand units.  That's still nearly six percent above last year's rate for February.  The average price of a new home sold in February was 485-thousand dollars. 

 

>>Nike Scales Back Air Force 1 Production

(New York, NY)  --  Nike wants to make its Air Force One sneakers harder to buy. The company is pulling back on production of them, along with the Pegasus sneakers, to make room for its newer lines along with preventing discounting. Both shoes are marketed for everyday wear, but with slowed growth, stores are promoting them more to clear them off shelves.

 

>>Over Half Of Homeowners Worried About Extreme Weather

(Washington, DC)  -- Just over half of homeowners are worried extreme weather will damage their homes. That's according to a LendingTree survey. It found that seven in 10 homeowners think climate change will cause their home insurance costs to go up. About half also believe that severe weather and rising sea levels will affect their property values.

 

>>Powerball Jackpot Rolls Over 

(Undated)  --  The Powerball jackpot is rolling over - again.  There was no grand prize winner in Monday night's drawing so the next time to strike it rich will be Wednesday with an estimated 865-million dollars up for grabs.  Meanwhile, today's Mega Millions drawing has skyrocketed to over a billion dollars.  Take the cash option on that and a winner will walk away with just shy of 526-million dollars.

AM Business Notebook

>>DOJ Sues Apple For Alleged Antitrust Law Violations 

(Washington, DC)  --  Apple is being sued for alleged antitrust law violations.  The lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice along with 16 state and district attorneys general claims Apple has monopolized the smartphone market by blocking competitors from accessing hardware and software features of the iPhone.  Attorney General Merrick Garland said if left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly.  Apple pushed back in a statement, claiming the lawsuit is "wrong on the facts and the law."  The DOJ also alleges Apple deliberately made the quality of cross-platform messaging worse to incentivize users of other smartphones like Android to switch to iPhone.

 

>>NY AG Takes First Step To Seize Trump Assets

(Westchester County, NY)  --  The New York attorney general is taking the first step in possibly seizing some of former President Trump's assets.  State lawyers entered judgments in Westchester County earlier this month.  That's where Trump's Seven Springs golf course and private estate is located.  Trump has until Monday to post a 464-million dollar bond in his civil fraud case or convince an appeals court to let him post a smaller amount until after he appeals the decision.  Trump has said he would be forced to take extreme measures such as selling some of his properties for cheap "fire sale" prices in order to be able to post the bond.

 

>>Home Sales Soar To Highest Levels In A Year

(Washington, DC)  --  Home sales in the U.S. rose to the highest level in a year in February.  That comes despite surging mortgage rates.  The National Association of Realtors reports existing home sales went up nearly ten-percent in February from the previous month.  That's the second straight month of an increase in sales. It's a sign sales are rebounding after dropping in the fall as mortgage rates soared.

 

>>Reddit Shares Up On First Day Of Trading

(Undated)  --  Reddit shares jumped in the company's market debut.  The share price opened Thursday at 47-dollars, well above the initial public offering price of 34-dollars a share.  It reached a high of 57-dollars-and-80 cents before closing at 50-dollars-and 44 cents.  The IPO raised about 520-million for the company, trading under the stock ticker RDDT.

 

>>Stellantis Announces Investment In French Start Up

(Undated)  --  Automaker Stellantis has announced an investment in a French company that will help create driver assistance systems.  SteerLight makes microchips with LIDAR [[ lie-dar ]] that can detect the environment around a vehicle in three dimensions.  Officials with SteerLight says with this investment from Stellantis they can accelerate the adoption of autonomous vehicles. The total dollar investment made by Stellantis was not released.

 

>>Over 440-Thousand Starbucks Mugs Recalled 

(Undated)  --  Nestle´ is recalling over 440-thousand Starbucks mugs.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the mugs can overheat and break, causing burns and other injuries.  The recall is for metallic mugs that were sold as a part of 2023 holiday Starbucks branded gift sets at Walmart, Target and military retail outlets.  The mugs were manufactured by Nestlé USA.  There have been a dozen reports of the mugs breaking or overheating and causing ten injuries, including blisters and severe burns.  

 

>>Timberwolves  New Ownership

(Minneapolis, MN)  --  The Minnesota Timberwolves are almost under new ownership.  "The Athletic" is reporting that Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez submitted paperwork to the NBA that will allow them to buy majority ownership of the team.  Dyal Capital Partners is investing in the pair after private equity firm Carlyle dropped out earlier in the week.  Lore and Rodriguez agreed to purchase the Wolves from Taylor in 2021, beginning a process of slowly buying shares of the team over the last two years.  

AM Business Notebook

>>Fed Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve is leaving interest rates unchanged but cuts could come later this year. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that inflation has eased substantially while the labor market remains strong. He added, however, that inflation is still too high and the central bank is committed to bringing inflation down to two-percent. He warned that if the fed cuts rates too soon inflation could come back. But if the central bank waits too long to cut rates, it could lead to higher unemployment. In the end, the Fed indicated three rate cuts were likely coming before the end of the year.

 

>>New Biden "Tailpipe" Rule Puts Focus On EVs And Hybrids

(Washington, DC) -- The Biden administration is announcing a new "tailpipe" rule that calls for the majority of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to be either hybrid or all-electric by 2032. The new rule calls for a target of 35 to 56-percent electric vehicle production by eight years, and a target of 13 to 36-percent for hybrids. That's a reduction from the administration's previous target of 67-percent EV production, after getting pushback from auto workers in the political battleground state of Michigan.

 

>>Reddit IPO Valued At $34 A Share

(San Francisco, CA) -- Reddit is pricing its initial public offering at 34-dollars a share. The online forum site's offering Wednesday brought in about 519-million dollars and values the company at nearly six-point-five billion dollars. The company debuts on the market today under the ticker RDDT.

 

>>FCC Investigating Sales Of Signal Jammers

(Washington, DC) -- Amazon and other retailers are under investigation by the FCC for the alleged sale of wireless signal jammers. Those are devices that block or disrupt signals used by other electronics like cellphones and GPS units and they are illegal to sell and advertise in the U.S. The FCC did not specify which other retailers are included in the investigation.

 

>>Mercedes-Benz Recalling More Than 116-Thousand Vehicles

(Undated) -- Mercedes-Benz is recalling over 116-thousand vehicles over a fire risk. According to a regulatory filing, loose electrical wiring underneath the passenger seat can overheat, increasing the risk of fire. The recall includes some GLE, Maybach sedans and AMG GLE vehicles. Mercedes-Benz says no crashes or injuries were caused by the issue.

 

>>Unilever Spins Off Ice Cream Unit, Cuts 7.5K Jobs

(Englewood Cliffs, NJ) -- Unilever has announced plans to spin off its ice cream business as part of an overall restructuring of the company. The company is also laying off some 75-hundred employees worldwide as part of the restructuring. The move will set up Unilever with four divisions -- beauty and well-being, personal care, home care and nutrition. Officials with Unilever say they think the ice cream business can perform better on its own. The ice cream unit includes brands such as Ben and Jerry's, Good Humor and Magnum.

AM Business Notebook

>>FOMC To Announce Decision On Interest Rates

(Washington, DC)  --  The Fed is due to deliver its decision on interest rates.  The Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting wraps up today with a highly-anticipated announcement, followed by a press conference from Fed chair Jerome Powell.  The Fed is widely expected to leave rates unchanged.

 

>>Former President Trump Complains On Truth Social About Bond

(New York, NY)  --  Former President Trump says he'll need to take extreme measures to pay his 464-million-dollar bond in his New York civil fraud case.  That includes selling some of his properties quickly for cheap "fire sale" prices.  Trump took aim at Judge Arthur Engoron, who ruled against him in the case.  In a Truth Social post, Trump complained that Engoron "actually wants me to put up Hundreds of millions of dollars for the Right to Appeal his ridiculous decision." 

 

>>FAA Chief Speaks On Boeing Concerns

(Washington, DC)  --  The head of the FAA says Boeing must shift its focus to improving safety standards.  In an interview with NBC News, FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said Boeing's safety protocols are not what would be expected "if safety is the first priority."  His comments come after a FAA audit of Boeing found the plane maker to be more focused on mass production rather than safety standards.  The audit took place after the door plug on a Boeing 737-Max 9 airplane operated by Alaska Airlines blew out while in the air.  A number of other incidents involving Boeing aircraft have happened in recent weeks, including a tire falling off after takeoff.

 

>>Safety Regulators Investigating Ford Crash Involving Driver Assistance Features

(Washington, DC)  --  Federal safety regulators are investigating a recent fatal Ford Mustang Mach-E crash in Texas.  Authorities believe the car was using an advanced driver assistance system.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened dozens of Tesla special crash investigations since 2016 in which systems like Autopilot are suspected of being used and this is its first probe that involves a Ford advanced system.  While automakers suggest these features help reduce accidents, safety regulators worry that over-reliance on them could cause accidents. 

 

>>JetBlue Cutting Five Cities

(Long Island, NY)  --  JetBlue Airways is cutting back on the number of flights it offers to travelers.  On Tuesday, the company announced it will be eliminating several unprofitable routes on both domestic and international flights.  The airline will also completely leave Kansas City, Missouri and Newburgh, New York.  JetBlue cited limited aircraft and "the need to improve financial performance" as reasons for the flight limitations.  In total, 16 routes will be cut starting in June, mostly out of Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.  

AM Business Notebook

>>United Airlines CEO Reassures Customers About Safety

(Chicago, IL)  --  The head of United Airlines is trying to reassure customers after a number of recent incidents has raised concerns about safety.  In a letter sent to customers on Monday, CEO Scott Kirby said the company is reviewing each case to help inform the airline's safety training and procedures.  On Friday, a United-operated Boeing plane was found to be missing an external panel when it landed in Oregon.  This came after other incidents involving Boeing planes including one that rolled onto the grass in Houston and another that lost a tire after taking off from San Francisco.  Kirby said last week that United is pausing orders for Boeing Max 10 aircrafts and deciding whether to switch to Airbus, Boeing's rival.

 

>>Congress Facing Another Shutdown Deadline 

(Washington, DC)  --  Congress needs to pass legislation to avoid a partial government shutdown at the end of the week.  Funding runs out midnight Friday for six annual spending bills.  Lawmakers were able to reach a deal Monday evening on funding the Department of Homeland Security, which is seen as paving the way for lawmakers to begin considering the remaining spending bills and avert a shutdown.  

 

>>Musk Talks About Drug Use With Don Lemon

(Undated)  --  Elon Musk says he's almost always sober when he posts on his social media platform X.  The tech billionaire discussed his habits in an interview with former CNN journalist Don Lemon.  He said he takes a small amount of ketamine prescribed by a doctor to help deal with depression-like symptoms.  The drug is often used in hospitals as an anesthetic.  Musk says he can't over indulge because he often needs to work 16-hour days.

 

>>Craft Store Joann Files For Bankruptcy

(Hudson, OH)  --  Joann is filing for bankruptcy after over eight decades in business. The fabric and craft retailer said in a statement that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and secured 132-million in funding to help reduce its debt. The company's nearly 850 stores and website will remain open.  Joann reportedly suffered from customers cutting back on discretionary spending due to inflation after its pandemic boom, when they tended to spend more money on arts and crafts while stuck at home. 
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden Urges Lawmakers To Pass Ukraine Aid Bill 

(Washington, DC)  --  President Biden is is urging Congress to pass a foreign aid package that includes funding for Ukraine and Israel.  Biden used a joint appearance with Speaker Mike Johnson on Capitol Hill Friday to call on the House to "do their part" in passing a 95-billion-dollar supplemental aid package that cleared the Senate last month.  The legislation has yet to come up for a vote in the House.  Biden said it will send a clear message to the world that "America stands up for freedom." 

 

>>Biden Campaign Raises over $53B In February

(Washington, DC)  --  President Biden's re-election campaign raised over 53-million dollars in February.  The Biden campaign released new figures today that show about one-point-three-million donors have made nearly three-point-four-million contributions, and that 97-percent of those donations were under 200 dollars.  The figures show Biden raised about ten-million dollars in the 24 hours following his State of the Union address.  Biden's campaign manager said, "The stakes of this election couldn't be higher for the future of this country."

 

>>HHS Investigating Cyberattack

(Washington, DC)  --  The Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a recent cyberattack against UnitedHealth Group.  Last month, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth fell victim to a ransomware attack that disrupted billing operations for patients across the country.  A survey found more than 80-percent of hospitals say their cash flow was directly affected by the cyberattack.  HHS announced it would launch an investigation ""Given the unprecedented magnitude" of the attack. 

 

>>Target Making Changes To Self-Checkout Lanes

(Undated)  --  Target is making some changes to its self-checkout policy.  The retailer announced its putting a cap on the number of items shoppers can have at self-checkout, a move that has "plenty of justification," according to marketing professor Mike Porter.  He says some people don't like self check-out and will appreciate the new item limits. Target says it wants to speed up the process by limiting shoppers at self-checkout to ten items.  More lanes that are staffed with employees will be opening up to help those who have fuller carts.  The "Express Self-Checkout" lanes will hit most target stores on Sunday.  Porter says this decision could be related to store theft, although Target didn't say that was a reason for the change.

 

>>McDonald's Confirms Global Outage

(Undated)  --  McDonald's has been hit by a system failure impacting restaurants across the globe.  McDonald's said in a statement this morning that it was aware of "a technology outage" that forced the closure of many locations, but insisted it was not caused by a cybersecurity event.  Stores were left unable to handle customers and online and app orders were disrupted in countries as far apart as here in the United States to Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.  The company's statement went on to say that the issue is "now being resolved."

 

>>"Kung Fu Panda 4" Edges "Dune: Part Two"

(Hollywood, CA)  --  Po the Dragon Warrior's toughest opponent may actually be a science fiction movie.  "Kung Fu Panda Four" edged out "Dune: Part Two" by less than a million-dollars for the top spot in this weekend's box office.  "Kung Fu Panda Four" took in an estimated 30-million-dollars in its second week in theaters, while "Dune: Part Two" brought home 29-point-one-million in its third week.  The Mark Wahlberg film "Arthur the King" opened in third-place with seven-point-five-million-dollars.

 

AM Business Notebook

>>Former Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Putting Bid Together Bid For TikTok

(New York, NY) -- Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is putting together a bid to buy TikTok. He told CNBC Thursday that he is building an investor group to acquire the popular video app from ByteDance. This comes after the House voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would force the China-based company to sell the app or have the app banned in the U.S. Mnuchin said he thinks the legislation should pass and that TikTok should be owned by a U.S. business. He added, "There's no way that the Chinese would ever let a U.S. company own something like this in China."

 

>>SEC Accuses Elon Musk Of "Distorting" Scope Of Investigation Into Twitter Purchase

(Washington, DC) -- Elon Musk is accused of distorting the scope of the SEC's investigation into his 2022 purchase of. Twitter. The Commission is attempting to get the X owner to sit for a deposition. The agency wrote in a new filing that Musk distorting the investigation is "his only hope for establishing that the SEC is not seeking relevant evidence." The agency sued Musk in October to get him to testify in its probe of the purchase of the social media platform.

 

>>Retail Spending Up In February Amid Rising Gas Prices

(Washington, DC) -- Spending at retailers is rebounding while gas prices are on the rise. Retail sales at stores in the U.S. went up point-six-percent in February from the previous month. That's up from January's over one-percent decline, according to the Commerce Department. But sales last month were up across most categories, mostly at home improvement stores where they jumped by over two-percent.

 

>>Consumer Demand For Electric Vehicles Not What Automotive Executives Expected

(New York, NY) -- Automakers are scaling back or delaying their electric vehicle plans as EV euphoria seems to be cooling. A return to a mixed offering of vehicles -gas-powered, hybrids and fully electric- are what major auto manufacturers like Ford, GM and Stellantis are all pivoting towards. While none of those automakers has officially announced changes to their long-term EV goals, there's been a notable shift in messaging. High interest rates, surging raw materials costs, and EVs becoming more expensive than gas-powered cars has slowed their adoption rate. According to Cox Automotive, the available inventory of EVs in the U.S. has ballooned to 136 days; compared to 78 days' for the overall industry.

 

>>Social Media Has Nearly Half Of All Young Adults Feeling Financially Inadequate

(New York, NY) -- "Money dysmorphia" is a new term used to describe the distorted view of one's finances, and apparently twenty-nine percent of Americans experience it. One-quarter of consumers feel less satisfied with the amount of money they have because of social media. According to Credit Karma, 'money dysmorphia' is even more prevalent among younger generations. Roughly 43-percent of Gen Z and 41-percent of millennials struggle with comparisons to others and feel behind financially. Experts say you can address it by spending less time on social media and remove any payment details stored online to help create "purchase hurdles" -which force you to think through buying decisions.

 

>>Former CEO Plank Is Coming Back To Under Armour

(Baltimore, MD) -- Kevin Plank who founded Under Armour is coming back to the head office. Plank started the Baltimore-based firm nearly three decades ago. He will take back on CEO responsibilities replacing current president and CEO Stephanie Linnartz. She has helmed the company for the past year. Linnartz is also leaving her seat on Under Armour's board. The company released no additional information as to why the changes are underway.

AM Business Notebook

>>Speaker Johnson Says House Will 'Apply Pressure' On Senate To Pass TikTok Bill

(Washington, DC) -- House Speaker Mike Johnson says that the House will apply "every amount of pressure" on the Senate to get the bill banning TikTok passed. The House on Wednesday approved the bill that could lead to the forced sale or nationwide ban of the social media app. It would require TikTok's parent company, Chinese-owned tech giant ByteDance, to sell the app within 180 days or see it banned from U.S. app stores. Lawmakers are concerned the Chinese government can access the personal data of millions of Americans. Those opposed to the bill argue it imposes limits on free speech. President Biden has said he would sign it if it cleared Congress.

 

>>Bernie Sanders Introduces 32-Hour Work Week Bill

(Washington, DC) -- Senator Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill that would establish a four-day work week in the U.S. If passed, the bill would lower the threshold required for overtime pay from 40 hours a week to 32 over the course of a four-year period. The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act would also protect employee wages and benefits to ensure there's no loss in pay. In a press release, Sanders said a 32-hour work week "is not a radical idea," adding that "American workers are over 400-percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages than they were decades ago."

 

>>Dollar Tree Plans To Close A Thousand Stores

(New York, NY) -- One-thousand Family Dollar and Dollar Tree stores are closing their doors. Dollar Tree said in a press release that it operated more than 16-thousand stores in North America as of early February. During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, the company said it was doing a "portfolio optimization review" that included looking at which stores should be closed or relocated. As a result, Dollar Tree said it would close about 600 Family Dollar stores in the first half of 2024, followed by more closures over the next "several years" of about 400 stores as their leases end.

 

>>Blue Diamond Cutting Corporate Jobs

(Sacramento, CA) -- Dozens of corporate jobs are being cut in a round of layoffs at California-based Blue Diamond Growers. The layoffs are part of a plan to stay cost-efficient. Blue Diamond is one of the largest almond producers in the world. It's a cooperative of more than three-thousand farmers. Blue Diamond buys almonds from farmers and processes them in its production plants in Northern California. The company has faced sales declines due to multiple challenges, including an oversupply of almonds, inflation pressures, and shifting consumer shopping patterns. The layoffs account for less than three-percent of the company's global workforce.

 

>>CA Law Firm Sues Makers of Popular Tobacco Product

(San Diego, CA) -- A San Diego law firm is filing a federal lawsuit against big tobacco, but this time, it's not for cigarettes or vaping. The suit is against Philip Morris for the product "Zyn" -- a popular nicotine product that comes in a flavored pouch. The class action lawsuit claims the product is marketed toward young people. The firm says the product is a threat to our health. The case could take years to work through the courts.

 

>>How To Get The Quickest Tax Return

(Undated) -- If you're looking for the quickest tax refund, you should file as soon as possible. CAP's say the absolute fastest way to get a refund is through electronic filing. If you paid too much in taxes over the past year, the IRS will usually refund your hard-earned money within three to five days of processing your tax return electronically. But if you take the old-fashioned route and file using snail mail, you could wait two months for a refund from the IRS.

AM Business Notebook

>>House GOP Preparing For TikTok Ban Bill Vote

(Washington, DC)  --  House Republicans are preparing for a vote on a bill that would effectively ban TikTok in the U.S.  A vote on the measure is scheduled for today.  It would require the app's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell to an American owner in an attempt to address national security concerns.  President Biden said Friday that he would sign the bill into law.  Former President Trump shared his opinion on the vote, saying a TikTok ban would only empower Facebook -- which he called an "enemy of the people."  

 

>>Attorneys Of Boeing Whistleblower Call On Police To Investigate His Death

(Charleston, SC)  --  The attorneys for a Boeing whistleblower found dead over the weekend are speaking out.  Sixty-two-year-old John Barnett was found dead outside of a South Carolina hotel.  He was known for speaking out about Boeing's production standards after working for the company for over three decades.  Though the coroner's office said Barnett's death was the result of a "self-inflicted gunshot wound," Barnett's attorneys are calling on Charleston Police to investigate further.  In a statement, they said they did not see any indication that Barnett would take his own life.

 

>>Southwest Lowers Outlook Amid Weaker Boeing Delivery Forecast 

(Dallas, TX)  --  Southwest Airlines is cutting capacity and re-evaluating its full-year financial outlook.  The airline noted this week that the lowered forecast is directly related to Boeing's troubles.  Southwest's stock suffered its worst single-day losses after the announcement.  

 

>>BU Graduate Workers Vote To Authorize Strike

(Boston, MA)  --  Thousands of Boston University graduate workers have voted to authorize a strike.  The union has been in talks with BU since last year, and has not been able to reach an agreement.  The graduate students earn between 27-thousand and 40-thousand-dollars a year, which the union says is not a living wage.  The union is also seeking improved health care benefits for the graduate workers.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Key Inflation Report Due

(Undated) -- The consumer price index - a key indicator of the state of inflation is due out today. This, as Americans expect high inflation to stick around over the next few years. That's according to the New York Federal Reserve's Survey of consumer expectations. The expectation is that the inflation rate will be up three-percent a year from now. Consumers also anticipate inflation will hover around two-point-seven percent three years from now. Central bank policymakers meanwhile project inflation will fall to two-point-one-percent by 2025.

 

>>Equal Pay Day

(Washington, DC) -- Tuesday marks equal pay day. It's the date that symbolizes how far into the year that women have to work to earn what men earned in the previous year. The Labor Department says women in the U.S. earned about 20 percent less than men on average last year.

 

>>Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead

(Charleston, SC) -- A former Boeing employee who raised concerns about production standards at the company has been found dead. John Barnett worked for Boeing for 32 years, giving evidence recently as part of a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. The coroner in Charleston County, South Carolina says he died Saturday from a "self-inflicted" wound in his truck. Barnett had alleged in the lawsuit that some workers were fitting sub-standard parts to aircrafts on the assembly line, with some removed from scrap bins to avoid delays.

 

>>Airbnb Bans Indoor Security Cameras

(San Francisco, CA) -- Airbnb is banning indoor security cameras from all listings. The short-term rental platform made the announcement Monday. It previously allowed indoor security cameras to be used in common areas placed in visible areas if they were disclosed on the listing page. Airbnb said its goal "was to create new, clear rules that provide our community with greater clarity about what to expect on Airbnb." The move comes after customer complaints and a skit about the issue on "Saturday Night Live." Outdoor security cameras will still be permitted.

 

>>Musk: Grok Will Go Open Source This Week

(San Francisco, CA) -- Elon Musk says Grok will go open source this week. The ChatGPT rival from Musk's artificial intelligence start-up, xAI, is available to X users who pay a 16-dollar-per-month subscription. xAI released Grok last year.

 

>>Bitcoin Hits Record High

(Undated) -- Bitcoin hit a record high to kick off the week. The cryptocurrency hit over 72-thousand dollars on Monday, just days after passing the previous high of 69-thousand, set in 2021. The record continues a steady climb back up for Bitcoin, which has gone up over 50-percent in the past two months.

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