Business News Archives for 2023-03

AM Business Notebook

Key Inflation Measure Rises Less Than Expected In February

(Washington, DC) -- A key inflation measure watched by the Federal Reserve is slowing slightly. The Personal Consumption Expenditures price index which doesn't include food and energy rose three-tenths of a percent in February. On a yearly basis, it's up four-point-six percent. The softer than expected reading comes as monthly energy prices dipped.

 

>>Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

(Washington, DC) -- Weekly jobless claims are up. Government figures show claims rose by seven-thousand last week, landing at 198-thousand. That's a few thousand more than most analysts had expected. Another key economic report that's sure to get a lot of attention today is the GDP report. The nation's gross domestic product, meaning the economy's total output of goods and services, grew at a rate of two-point-six percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 despite rising interest rates.

 

>>Virgin Orbit Fails To Launch, Will End Operations

(Long Beach, CA) -- Virgin Orbit is ending its operations "for the foreseeable future," the company said late Thursday. CEO Dan Hart said the satellite launch company was done in because it couldn't secure a funding lifeline. Virgin Orbit will lay off 90-percent of its workforce, keeping only 100 employees working. The company developed a system that uses a modified 747 to send satellites into space by dropping a rocket from under the jumbo jet's wing. Virgin Orbit's last mission failed when launch problems kept the rocket from reaching orbit, instead crashing into the ocean.

 

>>Reports: Netflix To Make Fewer Movies, 2 Executives Leaving

(Los Gatos, CA) -- Netflix reportedly will make fewer movies and cut ties with two longtime executives. Bloomberg reports the changes are part of restructuring of the streaming giant's film group, combining small and mid-sized film units and leading to layoffs. Bloomberg and Variety report that Lisa Nishimura, who led Netflix's documentary and small-budget films will leave the company, along with film group vice president Ian Bricke. Bricke reportedly had been with Netflix for more than 20 years and Nishimura for more than 15.

 

>>Sam Bankman-Fried Back In Court

(New York, NY) -- Former crypto-king Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday on bribery charges. Bankman-Fried is accused of bribing a Chinese government official 40-million-bucks in 2021 when he was the FTX CEO. The new indictment alleges Bankman-Fried directed an employee to bribe the official after Chinese authorities froze several of his accounts worth more than one-billion-dollars. He's already waiting trial after being hit with a list of charges due to the collapse of FTX, formerly one of the globe's biggest cryptocurrency firms. He's expected to face trial on these new charges in October.

 

>>Ford, Battling High Costs, Hikes F-150 Lightning's Price Again

(Dearborn, MI) -- Ford is raising the price of its popular F-150 Lightning pickup truck again. Ford's website showed on Thursday that the price of the electric pickup is going up again, the latest is a series of price hikes aimed at offsetting rising costs. The base model of the F-150 Lightning now starts just under 60-thousand dollars. That's nearly 50-percent higher than its starting price when it launched last year.

AM Business Notebook

>>Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

(Washington, DC)  --  Weekly jobless claims are up.  Government figures out today show claims rose by seven-thousand last week, landing at 198-thousand.  That's a few thousand more than most analysts had expected.  Another key economic report that's sure to get a lot of attention today is the GDP report.  The nation's gross domestic product, meaning the economy's total output of goods and services, grew at a rate of two-point-six percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 despite rising interest rates.  

 

>>Senators Unveil Bill To Recoup Executive Compensation Following Banks Failures

(Washington, DC)  --  A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation to claw back compensation from executives after bank failures.  Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Catherine Cortez-Masto teamed up with Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Mike Braun to introduce the bill today.  It would allow the FDIC to recoup up to five years' worth of compensation from executives at any bank that requires a federal takeover.  The move follows the recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which officials say was the result of failure by management.  Warren said bank executives need to bear the cost of failure. 

 

>>Musk Holds Record For Most Twitter Followers

(San Francisco, CA)  --  Elon Musk now has the most followers on Twitter.  Guinness World Records says the Twitter CEO now has over 133-million followers, passing up former President Barack Obama, who had held the record since 2020.  When Musk bought the platform back in October, he was the third-most followed person behind Obama and Justin Bieber.  This is the second title for Musk in the Guinness World Records.  Earlier this year, Musk was recognized for having the largest loss of personal fortune in history. 

 

>>DeSantis Disney Board Says Disney Stripped It Of Its Powers

(Lake Buena Vista, CA)  --  The state board chosen by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to oversee Disney World's government services says Disney stripped it of its power.  The "Orlando Sentinel" says before the state took control of Disney World's district board last month, the entertainment company quietly pushed through a development agreement that will keep Disney in power for 30 years.  One state board member said the agreement "completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern."  A statement from Disney said all agreements were approved in public forums in compliance with Florida's Government in the Sunshine law.

 

>>Tech Leaders Call For Pause On Race To Make A.I. As Advanced As Humans

(Undated)  -- Tech leaders are calling the race to make artificial intelligence as advanced as humans, "dangerous." In an open letter signed by 12 innovators, including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, they urged for a six-month pause on the development of human-level intelligence, saying it represents a risk to society. Musk, who is one of OpenAI's co-founders, has criticized the organization a number of times recently, saying he believes it is diverging from its original purpose. Open AI makes the popular ChatGPT. GPT-4, which was released earlier this month, is thought to be far more advanced than its predecessor GPT-3.

 

>>Earnings Soar 700% At Nation's Largest Egg Producer

(Jackson, MS)  --  The country's largest egg producer saw a 700 percent surge in profits last quarter due to climbing egg prices. Cal-Maine Foods is a Mississippi-based company that controls nearly 20 percent of the US egg market according to Reuters. At the end of last month, Cal-Maine sold a dozen eggs for three dollars and 30 cents -- that's more than double the one-sixty-one a carton was averaging this time last year. Some politicians are accusing egg producers of price gouging. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and California Representative Katie Porter sent a letter to Cal-Maine and other producers last month demanding to know if the price hikes "represent a legitimate response to reduced supply" or unchecked opportunism.

 

>>How To Get The Quickest Tax Return 

(Undated) --  People looking for the quickest tax return should file as soon as possible.  Oren Adler is a Certified Public Accountant in New Jersey and says the absolute fastest way to get a refund is through electronic filing.  He says the IRS will usually refund money within three to five days of receiving all the correct documents regarding an electronic filing.  However, those who file physical taxes could be waiting longer than three months to receive their refund from the IRS.  Adler notes filers will be waiting at least a month from the state. 
 

AM Business Notebook

 

>>Regulators Point Finger At Executives For Recent Bank Failures

(Washington, DC) -- Top regulators are testifying before Congress on the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Michael Barr, the Fed's top banking overseer, told a Senate panel Tuesday that Signature Valley Bank failed because management failed to appropriately address clear interest rate risk and liquidity risk. Barr noted the bank's problems were pointed out to Silicon Bank by supervisors starting in November 2021. Meanwhile, Nellie Liang, the Treasury Department's under secretary for domestic finance, explained how regulators stabilized the banking system and "provided depositors with confidence their funds are safe."

 

>>SBF Allegedly Bribed Chinese Official With $40 Million

(Washington, DC) -- Former crypto-king Sam Bankman-Fried is being charged with bribery. Bankman-Fried is accused of bribing a Chinese government official with a 40-million-dollar payment in 2021 when he was the FTX CEO. The new indictment alleges Bankman-Fried directed an employee to bribe the official after Chinese authorities froze several of his accounts worth more than one-billion-dollars. He's already waiting trial after being hit with a list of charges due to the collapse of FTX, formerly one of the globe's biggest cryptocurrency firms. >>Mega Millions Jackpot Grows (Undated) -- The Mega Millions lottery is soaring. There was no grand prize winner in Tuesday night's drawing. That pushes the jackpot up to 355 million ahead of Friday's drawing.

 

>>Tax Tips: Beware of Tax Scams This Filing Season

(New York, NY) -- Tax season often prompts apprehension, but something else stressing out millions of Americans is the presence of tax scams. Among the most common scams are robocalls claiming to be the IRS requesting personal information, calls or texts offering to collect or accelerate your tax refund, or those who say they will do your tax prep for free. Mark Steber, Chief Tax Information Officer at Jackson Hewitt says as a general rule if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't, and he adds the best way to stay safe is to arm yourself with knowledge by checking out resource pages like IRS.gov. He also noted the IRS will not initiate contact via phone, adding that if you have concerns about a suspicious offer you can always just ask a tax pro who can usually identify scams quickly.

AM Business Notebook

>>This Week In Economic Reports (Undated) -- There's a whole host of economic reports coming up this week. The latest consumer confidence report comes out today along with the Case-Shiller home price index. Pending home sales are due Wednesday. Thursday brings the GDP report and weekly jobless claims. Consumer sentiment, personal income and spending wrap up the week.

 

>>Senate GOP Moves To Eliminate Biden Loan Forgiveness Plan

(Washington, DC) -- Senate Republicans are kicking off an effort to do away with President Biden's student loan forgiveness program. Senators Bill Cassidy, Joni Ernst and John Cornyn will introduce a resolution to overturn the debt relief program as soon as this week. Republicans say the program unfairly transfers the burden from those who willingly took out loans to those who never went to college or have already paid their loans off. The proposal was brought under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn rules with a simple majority. The program, which promises up to 20-thousand dollars of forgiveness for eligible borrowers, is currently blocked and the Supreme Court will issue a ruling on whether to allow it to move forward this summer.

 

>>NJ Grants Five Companies Money To Expand Green Energy Workforce

(Trenton, NJ) -- New Jersey is granting five companies millions of dollars to expand their green energy workforce. It's all part of the state's BRIDGE Initiative Grant Award to support pilot programs focused on building a diverse and inclusive green workforce. First Lady Tammy Murphy held a roundtable with grant recipients who say their main focus is making sure the money gets reinvested into communities disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. Recipients say they're bolstering recruitment by meeting prospective employees where they are, adding the state should invest in an interagency task force that includes workers who are on the ground.

AM Business Notebook

>>Kashkari: Bank Stress Brings U.S. Closer To Recession

(Minneapolis, MN) -- A top Federal Reserve official says recent stress in the banking sector is bringing the U.S. closer to recession. Appearing on CBS' Face the Nation, Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neil Kashkari noted the trend, but said it's unclear if that stress is leading to what he described as "a widespread credit crunch." He explained that would slow down the economy. Still, Kashkari maintained the U.S. banking system remains fundamentally sound. His comments come after the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank and New York-based Signature Bank.

 

>>Tax Expert Highlights Changes For Filing This Year

(Undated) -- Time is running out to file your taxes this year, and there are some changes to be aware of. Mark Steber [[ STEEB-urr ]], a tax expert with Jackson Hewitt, says tax payers need to pay attention. Pandemic-era tax breaks like an expanded child tax credit and earned income credit expired last year. Steber says that could mean a lower refund than before - or refund shock come tax time.

 

>>FTC Eyes Easier Cancelations For Free Trials, Subscriptions

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Trade Commission is proposing new regulations to make it easier for consumers to cancel free trials and subscriptions. The FTC said on Thursday that its click-to-cancel proposal would require sellers to make canceling an enrollment more straightforward. The agency said the proposal would help consumers with what it called "seemingly never-ending struggles" in ending subscriptions. It would impose penalties on companies that use so-called "tricks and traps" to gain subscribers.

 

>>Ford Losing Money On EVs, But Has Plans For Profitability

(Dearborn, MI) -- Officials with Ford Motor Company say they've lost approximately four-billion dollars in their electrical vehicle business. The division known as Ford Model E also lost money in the previous year, but the company is outlining a plan to make EV's profitable. Market analysts say electric vehicle production will continue to be costly, noting that it took Tesla more than a decade to become profitable. Ford officials plan to detail their profitability plan to investors in May. Ford says their gas and hybrid vehicles are expected to reach profits of nine to eleven-billion dollars this year.

AM Business Notebook

>>Former CEOs Of SVB, Signature Bank Called On To Testify Before Congress

(Washington, DC) -- The former CEOs of failed Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank are being called on to testify before Congress. The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Banking committee said the former executives must answer for their banks' failures that sparked broader concerns over the financial system. The two executives indicated they won't attend a March 28th hearing, but lawmakers urged them to testify before panel at a later date. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank was the largest bank failure in the U.S. since the 2008 financial crisis.

 

>>Citigroup Head Says Banking System Is Sound

(Washington, DC) -- The head of Citigroup says recent bank failures aren't a sign of systemic trouble in the financial system. During an event in Washington, DC, CEO Jane Fraser said the banking system is sound and the two banks that recently went under had "a lot of issues." Her remarks come after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell made similar remarks, saying bank management "failed badly," calling SVB an outlier.

 

>>Protests In France Turn Violent

(Paris) -- Protests are turning violent in Paris as folks again protest a measure to raise France's retirement age. Tear gas had to be used by authorities yesterday in the French capital. France's president defended his decision to implement the bill, saying he doesn't enjoy the measure, but insisted he had to take action. He added the situation will only get worse if it's allowed to drag on as is because of funding. The retirement age would be raised to 64 from the current age of 62. In order to implement the bill, the president invoked part of the French Constitution which allowed it to pass without lawmakers voting on it.

 

>>Forbes Lists Yankees As Most Valuable MLB Franchise

(Undated) -- The value of MLB franchises is going up. According to Forbes, average MLB team value increased 12-percent over the past year to two-point-three-two-billion-dollars, with revenue increasing nearly eight-percent to ten-point-three-billion-dollars. The New York Yankees topped the list of teams published by Forbes as the most valuable franchise in the league at more than seven-billion-dollars. Following the Bronx Bombers are the Dodgers at four-point-eight-billion, the Red Sox at four-point-five-billion, the Cubs at four-point-one-billion and the Giants at three-point-seven-billion.

 

>>Panera Bread To Use Palm Scans For Loyalty Program

(St. Louis, MO) -- Panera Bread employees will soon be able to greet customers by name thanks to a scan of their palm. The fast food chain announced this week it will be rolling out Amazon One technology that will allow customers to link their loyalty accounts to their hand prints. Panera's CEO said the palm scans "will make it even easier for its guests to access their rewards and have a more customized cafe experience." The Amazon One technology has come under fire in New York City where it's the subject of a lawsuit, accused of not complying with biometric data laws. Panera said the use of the technology will be optional.

AM Business Notebook

>>Interest Rate Hike Expected

(Undated) -- The Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rate a quarter-point today, according to most economists. That would put the rate at five-percent, but some analysts think there might be a pause in rate hikes after a series of shocks to the banking system. The fed has been raising rates at a regular clip in an effort to stem inflation. Following today's announcement, Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 pm Eastern.

 

>>Yellen: Bank Failure Situation Is Stabilizing

(Washington, DC) -- The banking system remains sound and the fallout from the recent failure of two banks is stabilizing. That's what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the American Bankers Association summit in Washington, DC. Yellen emphasized the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank was different from the 2008 financial crisis. She said the financial system is significantly stronger than it was 15 years ago due to reforms put in place after the crisis. Yellen added regulators are continuing to monitor conditions closely and they're working to determine exactly what caused the recent failures.

 

>>Bill Introduced To Ban Congress From Owning Stocks

(Washington, DC) -- A bipartisan bill is being introduced that would ban members of Congress from owning or trading stocks. Several similar bills have been introduced since it was discovered multiple lawmakers have broken conflict of interest laws while investing. The new measure would prohibit lawmakers and their spouses from owning and trading stocks, commodities, and other securities. Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal says as long as Congress can trade individual stocks, "the door to corruption remains open."

 

>>October Trial For JetBlue-Spirit Merger Lawsuit

(Boston, MA) -- A trial will be held later this year as the federal government tries to stop JetBlue from merging with Spirit Airlines. A judge in Boston decided the trial will begin on October 16th. If the deal goes through, it would be worth just under four-billion dollars. The trial is expected to last four weeks and there won't be a jury.

 

>>Poll: Growing Number Of Americans View US As Top Economy

(Washington, DC) -- A growing number of Americans believe the U.S. is the leading economic power in the world. A new Gallup poll shows 44-percent of respondents say America has the top economy, compared to 42-percent who said China. That's an increase from the 37-percent in 2021 who said the U.S. takes the top spot. Meanwhile, the poll found that 44-percent of Americans said they expect the U.S. over China to be the leading economic power in 20 years.

AM Business Notebook

>>The Week Ahead In Economic Reports

(Undated) -- After a long week of commotion and turmoil in the banking industry, investors will be on the lookout for a number of key economic reports in the coming days. Existing home sales are due on Tuesday. Wednesday brings the Fed interest rate decision. We'll see weekly jobless claims and data on new home sales the following day.

 

>>Study: Nearly 200 Banks Face Risk Of Collapse

(Rochester, NY) -- Almost 200 banks risk facing the same fate as Silicon Valley Bank. That's according to a recent study from the Social Science Research Network. The study found that 186 banks across the country could collapse if half of their depositers make a bank run. It also said that even insured depositers at those at-risk banks could face issues getting their money if the same type of quick withdrawals happen. The study's economists noted, "Our calculations suggest these banks are certainly at a potential risk of a run, absent other government intervention or recapitalization."

 

>>Swiss Banking Giant Buying Rival Credit Suisse

(Zurich) -- Swiss banking giant UBS is buying its troubled rival Credit Suisse for more than three-billion dollars. A statement from the Swiss National Bank notes the takeover will "secure financial stability" and protect the country's economy. UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher explained the move is "attractive" for its shareholders but stressed "this is an emergency rescue" of Credit Suisse. This comes after the bank was dealing with a series of losses in the last two weeks.

 

>>Elizabeth Warren: Powell Has Failed As Fed Chair

(Washington, DC) -- Senator Elizabeth Warren says Jerome Powell has failed as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, the Massachusetts Democrat said Powell "took a flamethrower" to bank regulations, making him partly responsible for the recent collapse of two multi-billion-dollar banks. Warren also said Powell has also failed when it comes to monetary policy. She said the Fed should stop hiking interest rates to control inflation because all it does is put people out of work.

 

>>LAUSD Files Legal Challenge To Stop Strike

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Los Angeles Unified School District officials are making a last-ditch attempt to head off a three-day strike that would shut down campuses in the nation's second-largest school district. On Friday, the LAUSD asked California state labor regulators to issue an injunction to block the strike -- which district leaders say would be illegal. Sources told the Los Angeles Times that they don't know if the state Public Employment Relations Board will act on the filing in time to keep thousands of support staff and teachers from going on strike Tuesday. 

 

>>Twitter Now Responds To Press Requests With Feces Emoji

(San Francisco, CA) -- Twitter is sending a strong message to journalists. On Sunday morning, Elon Musk tweeted that the company's automatic email reply system will now respond to all press requests with a feces emoji. Tons of Twitter users tested it out and posted the proof.

 

>>Mega Millions Jackpot Climbs To $272 Million

(Undated) -- The Mega Millions jackpot is getting bigger after Friday night's grand prize went unclaimed. That means Tuesday's jackpot in the multi-state lottery game will be worth an estimated 272-million-dollars. The cash option on that works out to 146-point-five million.

AM Business Notebook

>>U.S. Banks Rescue First Republic Bank

(New York, NY) -- America's biggest banks are coming to the rescue of First Republic Bank. Eleven banks deposited a total of 30-billion dollars into First Republic after depositors pulled billions of dollars out of the bank. The deal was put together by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and other U.S. power brokers. In a joint statement Thursday, the financial leaders said, "This show of support by a group of large banks" demonstrates "the resilience of the banking system." Two banks collapsed in the past week, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

 

>>Goldman Sachs Says 35-Percent Chance Of Recession

(New York, NY) -- Turmoil in the banking industry is prompting concern about the odds of a recession. Goldman Sachs economists predict there's a 35-percent chance the U.S. will experience a recession in the next 12 months. The prediction by Goldman increased by ten percentage points following the fall of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month. Recession fears have remained prevalent as the Federal Reserve continues to hike interest rates to tame inflation.

 

>>Building Permits, Housing Starts Rise In February

(Washington, DC) -- The nation's housing sector was strong in February. There were just over one-and-a-half million permits last month, which was a nearly 14-percent jump from January. That's according to new reports about building permits and housing starts. Meantime, housing starts saw a nearly ten-percent jump to one-point-four-five million.

 

>>Ford Recalls Over 1M Cars Over Brake Hose Issue

(Dearborn, MI) -- Ford is recalling more than a million cars over a brake hose issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Ford Fusions and Lincoln MKZs sold between 2013 and 2018 are affected. It has to do with front brake hoses that may rupture and leak brake fluid. The agency says owners will be notified by letter and dealers will replace the front brake hoses for free.

AM Business Notebook

>>Goldman Sachs Lowers Economic Growth Forecast 

(New York, NY)  --  Goldman Sachs is lowering its 2023 economic growth forecast over concerns about the strength of the banking sector.  The firm lowered its growth forecast to one-point-two-percent.  That's a drop of zero-point-three percentage points.  Goldman Sachs anticipates smaller banks will try to preserve liquidity to meet depositor withdrawals following the failure of two banks this month.  Analysts believe a pullback in lending will result in a tightening in bank lending standards.

 

>>Producer Price Index Drops

(Undated)  --  A key price index unexpectedly dropped last month, the Labor Department reports, in what could be encouraging news for inflation.  The Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale prices, dropped a tenth of a percent month-over-month in February.  Market experts had been expecting an increase of three-tenths of a percent.  Food prices dropped a little over two percent, with eggs seeing a fall in price of more than 36 percent.  The year-over-year numbers showed an increase of four-point-six percent.  

 

>>New SVB Head: Bank Is Open For Business

(Santa Clara, CA)  --  The new head of Silicon Valley Bank says it's open for business as usual.  This comes after the FDIC took control of the bank last week following its collapse.  NBC News reports the bank's new CEO held a meeting with employees today to assure them SVB wasn't closing its doors.  He said the company is making new loans, processing payments and carrying out usual business activities.  Federal authorities stepped in to back all of the bank's deposits.

>>World's Largest Semiconductor Plant To Be Built In South Korea

(South Korea)  --  What's being called the world's largest semiconductor plant will be built in South Korea.  It's worth nearly 230-billion dollars and will be located just outside of Seoul.  A Samsung spokesperson told CNBC the company's investment goes all the way until 2042.  The announcement comes after American lawmakers passed the Chips and Science Act last year.

 

>>Kelloggs Announces New Company Names

(Battle Creek, MI)  --  Kellogg's has announced the names of the two companies it will soon become.  Officials at the Michigan-based company say the WK Kellogg Co will focus on cereals, while Kellanova will cover snack brands like Pop-Tarts and Cheez-Its.  The split is expected to happen by the end of the year. 

 

>>Ryan Reynolds Mint Mobile To Be Sold To T-Mobile

(Bonn, Germany)  --  Ryan Reynolds' Mint Mobile is set to be acquired by T-Mobile for over one-billion dollars.  Reynolds currently holds a minority ownership stake in the company.  T-Mobile said it'll be able to "leverage Mint's industry-leading digital marketing expertise as part of its broader portfolio to reach new customer segments."  Mint Mobile's founders will stay at T-Mobile to manage the brands when the deal closes.  Reynolds will also continue in his creative role for Mint.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Inflation Remains Stubbornly High

(Washington, DC) -- The latest inflation report is a mixed bag. The consumer price index for February rose by zero-point-four percent, right in line with what experts predicted and a sign inflation might be cooling off. While that's a smaller rise than last month, inflation still remains stubbornly high. On a year over year basis, the CPI went up by six-percent. Energy costs went down thanks to fuel oil prices falling by nearly eight-percent.

 

>>Moody's Downgrades U.S. Banking System To "Negative"

(New York, NY) -- A major Wall Street ratings firm is downgrading its outlook on the entire U.S. banking system to "negative." Moody's Investors Service said it lowered its outlook from stable to negative to reflect the "rapid deterioration in the operating environment" following bank failures that prompted federal regulators to step in. Moody's also warned of potential downgrades to First Republic, INTRUST Financial, UMB, Zions Bancorp, Western Alliance and Comerica.

 

>>Lawsuit Filed Against Signature Bank

(New York, NY) -- Signature Bank is being sued by shareholders after it was taken over by state regulators in New York. They say the bank perpetrated a fraud when it said it was in a good position financially just before collapsing. The period covered by the lawsuit is March 2nd through the 12th. Signature Bank is one of the financial institutions to fail in recent days. The other was California's Silicon Valley Bank.

 

>>Meta To Layoff 10,000 More Workers

(Menlo Park, CA) -- Meta plans to layoff ten-thousand more employees. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the latest cuts in a blog post. They follow a previous round of cuts in November that affected about eleven-thousand workers. Zuckerberg said the company also plans to close five-thousand open positions that haven't been filled yet. He noted Meta remains focused on streamlining the organization with more belt-tightening ahead in the coming months.

 

>>Novo Nordisk Slashes Price Of Insulin

(Washington, DC) -- Another pharmaceutical company is lowering the price of insulin. Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk announced Tuesday it will lower the price of its insulin products by up to 75-percent. The price change will take effect at the start of 2024. The move comes after Eli Lilly recently said it will cap the out-of-pocket cost of all of its insulin products at 35-bucks a month. President Biden has called on drug companies making insulin to follow suit. Meanwhile, seniors on Medicare will pay no more than 35-dollars per month out of pocket due to a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act. The President is pushing Congress to pass legislation to cap insulin costs for all Americans.

 

>>Ex-Fugitive In $100-Million NJ Deli Case Returning To U.S.

(Newark, NJ) -- A former fugitive accused of stock manipulation in the bizarre case of a New Jersey deli once valued at 100-million dollars is on his way back to the U.S. to face charges. The defendant is Hong Kong businessman Peter Coker Jr., who's being flown in from Thailand. He's expected to appear in federal court in Newark, New Jersey later today or on Thursday. Coker, his father, and another man are charged in a 12-count federal indictment accusing them of financial crimes related to two publicly traded companies, including a money-losing delicatessen and a shell company that had no assets.

AM Business Notebook

>>Experts: Consumers Shouldn't Worry About Bank Failures

(Washington, DC) -- Financial experts are telling U.S. consumers not to panic after some high-profile bank failures. California's Silicon Valley Bank failed on Friday and that was followed by the closure of New York-based Signature Bank on Sunday. Earlier in the week, Silvergate Capital announced it would be winding down operations. Most money managers say the banks that failed are "specialized" and the FDIC will make all depositors' cash good.

 

>>Fed To Conduct Review Of Silicon Valley Bank

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve will conduct a review of Silicon Valley Bank following its collapse. The central bank announced it will carry out a review of the supervision and regulation of the bank. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the events surrounding the bank's failure demand a "thorough, transparent, and swift review" by the Fed. It will be publicly released by May 1st.

 

>>Doubt Raised Over Another Potential Interest Rate Hike

(New York, NY) -- Doubts are being raised over whether the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates yet again when it meets next. This comes after the collapse of two banks in recent days. One Goldman Sachs economist said over the weekend they "no longer expect" rates to be increased. The Fed has been rapidly hiking rates over the last year to fight inflation that hadn't been seen in decades. The most recent rate increase was a quarter-point.

 

>>Inflation Expectations Report Shows American Consumers Are Hopeful

(New York, NY) -- American consumers are hopeful they'll get some relief from soaring inflation. That's according to the New York Fed's Survey of Consumer Expectations. Folks put the one year inflation number at just over four-point-two percent. That's a drop of eight-tenths of a point and the lowest number in nearly two years. Despite that, respondents believe home prices will rise by nearly one-and-a-half percent.

 

>>National Equal Pay Day

(Washington, DC) --Today is National Equal Pay Day. It was established to bring awareness to the difference in pay between women and men for the same work. According to Census Bureau data, median full-time earnings are ten-thousand-dollars higher for men than they are for women. President Biden is urging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to "(make) it harder for employers to justify disparities" in pay.

 

>>Pfizer Buys Seagen, Boosts Access To Cancer Treatments

(New York, NY) -- Pfizer is hoping to boost research and access to new cancer treatments with its latest multi-billion-dollar purchase. The pharmaceutical giant is spending roughly 43-billion dollars to buy Seagen Inc., based in Washington state. Pfizer then plans to let the biotech drug developer continue innovating, but now with more resources than it would have alone. Seagen specializes in anti-body drug conjugate ,or ADC technology, which are lab-made proteins that look for cancer cells and deliver a cancer-killing drug. A Pfizer spokesperson says cancer treatments are a priority for the company.

AM Business Notebook

>>U.S. Treasury: Silicon Valley Bank Deposits To Be Paid In Full

(Washington, DC)  --  The Treasury Department says it will take steps to ensure all Silicon Valley Bank deposits will be paid in full.  Depositors will have access to all of their money today, according to Sunday's joint statement with the Federal Reserve and FDIC.  That includes deposits beyond the federally insured ceiling of 250-thousand dollars.  The Fed also announced it will make additional funding available.  Silicon Valley Bank collapsed Friday after a run and capital crisis led to the second-largest failure of a bank in U.S. history.  Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS Sunday that there would be no federal bailout for the failed California bank.

 

>>Biden Applauds Fed Regulators Response To SVB Collapse

(Washington, DC)  --  President Biden is applauding the response of federal banking regulators in light of Silicon Valley Bank's recent collapse.  He tweeted Sunday, saying he's pleased the Treasury, Federal Reserve and FDIC reached a solution that "protects workers, small businesses, taxpayers, and our financial system."  Regulators announced they'll take steps to ensure all Silicon Valley Bank deposits will be paid in full, starting today.  They also shut down New York-based Signature Bank due to "systemic risk."  Biden noted he's "firmly committed to holding those responsible for this mess fully accountable."  

 

>>Fed Calls Emergency Meeting

(Undated)  --  The Federal Reserve is expected to hold a closed-door meeting of its board of governors today.  The central bank didn't offer many details of the planned 11:30 am Eastern time meeting.  Multiple reports suggest Friday's collapse of Silicon Valley Bank may have played a factor in the emergency meeting.  The swift collapse of SVB marks the biggest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.

 

>>The Week Ahead In Economic Reports 

(Undated)  --  There's a slew of economic reports coming up in the week ahead.  Nothing much today, but Tuesday brings us the consumer price index.  Wednesday will see the release of retail sales, and well as the producer price index.  Business inventories and the homebuilders survey are also scheduled for release.  Weekly jobless claims come out Thursday morning along with housing starts and building permits.  Consumer sentiment is due Friday.

 

>>Sen. Kennedy: Only Way To Improve Biden Budget "Is With A Shredder"

(Baton Rouge, LA)  --  Senator John Kennedy says the only way to improve President Biden's budget proposal is "with a shredder."  Appearing on Fox News Sunday, the Louisiana Republican tore into the six-point-eight-trillion-dollar proposal, saying Biden's promise that it will solve the country's financial problems shows that he doesn't know what he's talking about.  Many believe the President's fiscal plan is dead on arrival in the GOP-majority House anyway.  Kennedy went on to criticize Biden for taking the issue of modifying -- but not sunsetting -- Social Security off the table.  He said Americans will likely continue to live longer, so it makes sense to consider raising the eligibility age for those who aren't going to retire for 40 or 50 years. 

 

>>Ford Cutting More Jobs Overseas

(Dearborn, MI)  --  Another Detroit automaker is slashing jobs in a cost cutting campaign.  Ford Motor Company has announced plans to layoff eleven-hundred workers at a plant in Spain.  The company had already announced job reduction plans in the U.K. and Germany.  Ford says their plan to have an all-electric fleet of vehicles in Europe by 2035 hasn't changed.  This, as General Motors recently announced the layoffs of around 500 workers and is offering buyout options for 58-thousand salaried workers.

 

>>Retirees Consider A Return To Work.

(Undated)  --  A growing number of retirees are considering "unretirement."  According to a study from Paychex, people out of the workforce for an average of four years list "needing more money" as one of the top reasons.  That's followed by "getting bored," "feeling lonely," and "inflation."  Labor statistics show the workforce participation rate was nearly 26-percent in 2021, and that's expected to climb.

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden Lays Out Budget In Philly

(Philadelphia, PA) -- President Biden is laying out his budget plan. While speaking to union workers in Philadelphia Thursday, Biden said his proposed Medicare negotiation on drug prices will save 160-billion dollars. The budget also includes capping the cost of insulin at 35-bucks a month for all Americans. Biden called on Republicans to release their budget as well, saying he's ready to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy any time. The budget includes a new billionaire tax, an increase on the tax for corporate stock buybacks and an increase on the Medicare tax for those making more than 400-thousand dollars annually. The White House claims the proposal would shrink the deficit by nearly three-trillion dollars over the next decade.

 

>>January, Februrary Layoffs At Level Not Seen Since 2009

(Chicago, IL) -- Job cuts to begin the year reached a level not seen since 2009. That's according to the employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It says there were more than 180-thousand job cuts in those two months. The tech sector was hit particularly hard as more than a third of those layoffs were in that industry. Challenger's senior VP said the retail and financial sectors are also laying off workers

 

>>Bank At Center Of Crypto Industry Growth Shuts Down

(San Diego, CA) -- A bank that's been at the center of the crypto industry's growth is closing its doors. Silvergate Capital Corporation, based in suburban San Diego, announced on Wednesday it's shutting down because of what bank officials called recent industry and regulatory developments. The announcement set off a decline in crypto prices that continued through Thursday's trading. Silvergate said it will fully repay all deposits.

 

>>Senate Votes To Confirm Biden's IRS Pick

(Washington, DC) -- The Senate has approved President Biden's pick to lead the IRS. The Senate voted to confirm Daniel Werfel to be commissioner of the IRS in a 54-42 vote. That included the support of six Republicans despite skepticism among some conservatives as the agency will kick off an 80-billion-dollar overhaul to crack down on tax cheats. Werfel has said the IRS wouldn't increase audit rates on small businesses and those making less than 400-thousand dollars a year.

 

>>Majority Of GM's U.S. Salaried Workers To Be Offered Buyouts

(Detroit, MI) -- The majority of salaried workers employed by GM in the U.S. will be offered voluntary buyouts. That's according to a letter from CEO Mary Barra. Workers who have been with GM for five or more years are eligible. Those who are interested in the offer have two weeks to sign up. If they're ultimately approved to depart, they'll do so by June 30th. The buyout offer comes as the automaker is looking to cut two-billion dollars in costs in the next two years.

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden To Roll Out Budget Proposal

(Washington, DC) -- The President will roll out his budget proposal today in Philadelphia. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed it will cut the deficit by nearly three-trillion dollars over ten years. It will include raising the Medicare tax on those making more than 400-thousand dollars per year to extend the program for decades. Biden has also called on Congress to quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks. The plan is likely dead-on-arrival in Congress as Republicans control the House. Republicans there are against tax increases and they're pushing the President into steep spending cuts in exchange for their votes to raise the debt limit.

 

>>Powell Testifies Before Congress For Second Day

(Washington, DC) -- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is stressing that policymakers haven't yet decided on the size of the interest rate increase expected later this month. While testifying before a House committee Wednesday, Powell said the increase will depend on incoming data on jobs and inflation. Powell said the data will determine whether a quarter or half-point hike will be needed. He added while inflation has been moderating, getting it down to the target of two-percent "has a long way to go."

 

>>FAA Boosting Oversight Of Boeing

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is ramping up oversight of Boeing. The FAA said on Wednesday that it will add close to 300 employees to its safety office following two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes in recent years. Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen told the Senate Commerce Committee the agency plans to have the new safety office staff on duty by the end of September. Nolen testified at a hearing on FAA safety reforms Congress directed in 2020 after 737 MAX crashes in Africa and Indonesia in 2018 and 2019 killed nearly 350 people.

 

>>American Airlines To Match Delta's Pay

(Fort Worth, TX) -- The CEO of American Airlines is telling pilots that it will match Delta's pay increases. Delta's pilots ratified a four-year contract last week with 34-percent in cumulative raises. CEO Robert Isom promised the "same profit-sharing formula" to the Fort Worth-based airline's own pilots in a Tuesday message, as well as better scheduling. This comes as airlines labor unions are searching out big pay increases after contract talk slumped during the pandemic.

 

>>WWE In Talks To Legalize Gambling On Scripted Wrestling Matches

(New York, NY) -- Word Wrestling Entertainment is reportedly in talks with state regulators to legalize betting on scripted wrestling matches. CNBC said Wednesday that WWE is talking to regulators in Michigan and Colorado, and is working with the Ernst & Young accounting firm to make sure the results of each match don't leak to the public. The report said wrestlers wouldn't know the outcome of each match until hours beforehand. WWE is not commenting on the report. The Colorado Division of Gaming says as of now, it is not considering allowing wagers on WWE matches.

AM Business Notebook

>>DOJ Sues To Block JetBlue-Spirit Merger

(Washington, DC) -- The federal government is filing an antitrust lawsuit to block JetBlue's three-point-eight-billion-dollar merger with Spirit Airlines. Attorney General Merrick Garland says the proposed merger would limit choices and drive up airline ticket prices nationwide. He added its impact would be particularly harmful for travelers who rely on what are known as ultra low-cost carriers. The merger would create the nation's fifth largest airline and eliminate Florida-based Spirit altogether. Garland cited internal Spirit documents that estimate when it starts flying a route, average fares fall by 17-percent, noting JetBlue documents that say when Spirit stops flying a route, average fares go up by 30-percent.

 

>>Musk Apologizes For Mocking Disabled Twitter Employee

(San Francisco, CA) -- Elon Musk is apologizing for mocking a now-former Twitter employee with a disability. A Twitter senior director in Iceland, Haraldur Thorleifsson, tweeted at the CEO this week and said access to his computer has been cut off days ago and he didn't know if he was still employed. Musk tweeted back that Thorleifsson "did no actual work" and "claimed as an excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing." Thorleifsson has muscular dystrophy and said he can type for only one to two hours at a time. Musk later tweeted, "I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation."

 

>>Meta Reportedly Planning Thousands More Layoffs

(Menlo Park, CA) -- Meta is reportedly planning to lay off thousands more employees. It's expected those layoffs could begin as early as this week. The cuts come in addition to previously announced plans to lay off 13-percent of Meta workers.

 

>>Starbucks CEO Will Testify About Alleged Labor Union Busting

(Washington, DC) -- The CEO of Starbucks is set to be roasted on Capitol Hill later this month. Howard Schultz will answer accusations about the coffee giant trying to stop unions from forming at stores across the country. Senator Bernie Sanders leads the committee Schultz will testify to on March 29th. The Vermont Independent noted the National Labor Relations Board has handled dozens of complaints alleging labor law violations.

 

>>Funko To Toss $30M Worth Of Bobbleheads Into The Trash

(Everett, WA) -- Funko is planning to throw out about 30-million-dollars worth of its iconic bobbleheads. Funko Pop toys and collectibles are famous for their depictions of pop-culture icons. In an earnings report last week, the company said its inventory was up 48-percent from a year before, and that it plans to eliminate excess toys because of limited warehouse capacity. Sales in Funko collectibles fell over six-percent in the last fiscal year, but CEO Brian Mariotti says the brand still has a "resilient global fanbase."

AM Business Notebook

Powell: Rates Likely To Be Higher Than Previously Anticipated 

(Washington, DC)  --  The Federal Reserve is likely to increase interest rates higher than previously thought to tame inflation.  That's what Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said while testifying before a Senate committee.  Powell said while inflation has been moderating in recent months, the process of getting it down to the Fed's goal of two-percent has a long way to go and is "likely to be bumpy."  The central bank's preferred inflation gauge heated up unexpectedly in January, as did consumer spending.  The Fed slowed its pace of rate hikes last month to a quarter percentage point after several months of three-quarter-point hikes and a half-point jump.  Powell said the Fed is prepared to increase the pace of rate increases if needed.

 

>>Senators Push For Changes To Social Security Language

(Washington, DC) -- A bipartisan group of senators is introducing legislation to help prevent Americans from claiming their Social Security too early. Many retirees claim Social Security at age 62, even though their checks would be larger if they claimed their benefits at a later age. Now, lawmakers are hoping to change the language of Social Security materials to better communicate the advantages of waiting. For example, the bill would change the terms in informational materials to refer to age 62 as the "minimum benefit age," rather than "early eligibility age." Ages 66 to 67, currently referred to as "full retirement age," would be changed to "standard benefit age." Lawmakers are also proposing regularly sending Social Security statements to everyone with a Social Security number regularly through the mail.

 

>>Norfolk Southern Paying Millions To PA Fire Companies, Businesses After OH Derailment

(Harrisburg, PA) -- Norfolk Southern says they'll be paying millions to Pennsylvania fire companies and businesses affected by the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment last month. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said he met with Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw last week and secured a commitment for financial aid. The money will be used to help with the still ongoing cleanup in the areas near the Ohio border where the derailment happened. The governor says five-million will reimburse fire departments for contaminated equipment and another one-million will go to two counties to help businesses and residents.

 

>>AK Boasts Cheapest Tax Rate In U.S.

(Undated) -- The cheapest tax rate in the U.S. can be found in Alaska. That's according to a new study out by financial website WalletHub. Their report compared the state and local tax rates of all 50 states against national medians. Alaska came out on top. The state also boasts the lowest tax on gas per gallon and no sales tax on food. The state with the highest tax rate was Illinois.

 

 

>>Amazon To Close 8 "Go" Stores

(Seattle, WA) -- Amazon reports it's planning to close eight of its "Go" cashier-less convenience stores across three cities. That's includes two in New York City, two in Seattle, and four in San Francisco. In a statement, the online retail giant said the move was part of a periodic assessment of its portfolio. Amazon went on to say it's committed to the format, and plans on opening up more "Go" stores in the future. The first locations opened up back in 2018.

 

>>SiriusXM Laying Off 8% Of Workforce

(New York, NY) -- SiriusXM is laying off part of its workforce. The satellite radio company said it's laying off 475 people, or about eight-percent of its workforce, as it's looking to reorganize its business. CEO Jennifer Witz told employees the layoffs are being made as the company is "entering a new phase" on top of "today's uncertain economic environment." This comes as the media and tech industry have seen a string of layoffs in recent months.

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden To Unveil Budget Proposal This Week (Philadelphia, PA) -- President Biden is set to unveil his upcoming budget proposal during a visit to Philadelphia this week. He'll hold a campaign-style event on Thursday. The White House says Biden will deliver remarks on his plans to "invest in America, continue to lower costs for families, protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, reduce the deficit, and more." The President has hinted his proposal would cut the federal deficit by more than two trillion dollars over ten years.

 

>>Senators Working On Bill To Help Ban, Prohibit Foreign Technology

(Washington, DC) -- Senators are working on a broad bipartisan bill that will outline a process to ban or prohibit foreign technology like TikTok. That's according to Senator Mark Warner. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, the Virginia Democrat explained that he's working on the bill with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota as U.S. officials grow increasingly concerned over what type of content Americans are consuming on the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform. Warner said the app is "taking data" from Americans and can be used as a "propaganda tool." His legislation also comes after the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance a bill that would grant President Biden the authority to ban TikTok.

 

>>Senators Urge Meta Not To Open Horizon Worlds To Younger Teens

(Washington, DC) -- Two senators are urging Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg not to open up the company's Horizon Worlds to younger teenagers. Early last month, reports suggested that Meta could allow teens aged 13 to 17 to use the app as soon as this month to boost the userbase and justify the billions of dollars the company has plowed into its metaverse efforts. Horizon Worlds is officially available only to adults. In a letter to Zuckerberg, Democratic Senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut urged the Meta chief not to make Horizon Worlds available to young teens in light of what the senators called the company's "failure to protect children and teens."

 

>>Tesla Lowers Prices Of Model S And Model X

(Austin, TX) -- Tesla is slashing the prices of its Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The Model S all-wheel drive is now going for 89-thousand-990 dollars, down about five-thousand dollars. The Plaid is down to 109-990 from 114-990 dollars. The Model X all-wheel drive is seeing a bigger drop, down more than nine-percent to 99-990. The Plaid Model X will now cost the same as the Plaid Model S.

 

>>Ford To Resume Electric Truck Production

(Detroit, MI) -- Ford will restart production of its electric F-150 Lightning trucks March 13th, weeks after battery issues caused one of the trucks to catch fire. The February 4th fire broke out during a quality check while the vehicle was charging. The automaker says the delay will give its battery supplier time to build up production and get batteries to the factory in Michigan.

 

>>Southern California To Las Vegas Bullet Train Construction To Start This Year

(San Bernardino, CA) -- Construction of the Southern California to Las Vegas bullet train is expected to start this year. The company in charge of the project, Brightline, has signed a deal with a coalition of major labor unions, clearing the way for construction to start. The 218-mile rail line is expected to be finished by 2026 or 2027. Trains will travel up to 200-miles-per-hour on a fully electric, emission-free system.

AM Business Notebook

 

>>Mortgages Rates Rise Yet Again (Washington, DC) -- Another week, another rise in mortgage rates. Freddie Mac says the rate for a 30-year mortgage came out to an average of six-point-six-five percent for the week that ended today. It was sitting at six-and-a-half percent the previous week. Freddie Mac's chief economist said inflation is one of the reasons for rates going higher.

 

>>DOJ Launches New Effort Targeting Corporate Sanctions Evasion

(Washington, DC) -- The Justice Department is launching a new effort to go after companies that evade sanctions and other crimes that threaten national security. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Thursday that, more and more, corporate criminal investigations carry "profound national security investigations." In the past year, the DOJ won a first-ever corporate guilty plea for support to terrorism from a French cement company. The firm admitted making millions of dollars of payments that supported ISIS and another terrorist organization.

 

>>Walgreens Won't Dispense Abortion Pills In Some GOP States

(Undated) -- Walgreens says it won't dispense abortion pills by mail in some Republican-run states. The pharmacy chain announced on Thursday it will not dispense abortion pills by mail in 20 states where Republican attorneys general have told the company it risks breaking the law if it dispenses the pills to those states by mail. A Walgreens spokesperson said the company made the decision after receiving a letter from the attorneys general. The spokesperson said Walgreens intends to become a certified pharmacy and will dispense abortion pills only in jurisdictions where it's legal.

 

>>Judge Rules Starbucks Violated Labor Laws During Unionization Efforts

(Washington, DC) -- A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge says Starbucks committed "hundreds of unfair labor practices" during employees' efforts to unionize at the company's stores in the Buffalo, New York area. In a 200-page ruling issued late Wednesday, Judge Michael Rosas condemned what he called the coffeehouse chain's "egregious and widespread misconduct demonstrating a general disregard for the employees' fundamental rights." That included illegally disciplining and firing workers who supported joining a union. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wants to subpoena Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to testify before Congress about the company's labor practices.

 

>>USPS Buying Electric Vehicles From Ford

(Dearborn, MI) -- The United States Postal Service is buying over nine-thousand electric vehicles from Ford. The E-Transit Battery Electric Vehicles will be delivered to USPS starting in December. Ford president and CEO Jim Farley says they are "proud to support" the USPS in helping them attain a more sustainable future for the country with the vehicles. USPS will also buy all components for 14-thousand charging stations.

 

>>NE Woman Falls Victim To Bitcoin Scam Involving Over $730,000

(Omaha, NE) -- A Nebraska woman is the victim of a cryptocurrency scam worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FBI says the victim from Omaha has deposited over 730-thousand dollars into a bitcoin account since 2021 and hasn't been able to access it. She says the account is run by a person she met on an online dating site. The FBI says that account has been linked to nine separate accounts in the Cayman Islands that are connected to wire fraud and money laundering. The money was moved over to an FBI account last February and it's unclear if the victim will ever get it back.

AM Business Notebook

>>Eli Lilly Announces Insulin Price Cuts

(Indianapolis, IN) -- Eli Lilly is announcing 70-percent price cuts on its most commonly prescribed insulin. The move comes as Eli Lilly and other insulin makers face ongoing criticism about high prices driving some diabetics to ration the life-saving drug. Starting in October, the price of a Humalog 100 units vial will be slashed to 66-dollars, down from 274. Lilly also says starting in May, it'll cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at 35-dollars a month for people with insurance. Eli Lilly and two foreign pharmaceutical companies Novo Nordisk and Sanofi control the insulin market.

 

>>Delta Pilots Approve New Contract With Big Raises

(Atlanta, GA) -- Delta Air Lines pilots have approved a new contract with 34-percent raises. The pilot's union says it was approved with 78-percent support and it makes the Atlanta-based airline the first of the country's largest carriers to finalize a labor agreement. United, American and Southwest are still negotiating as pilots seek higher pay and better working conditions. This comes as the industry continues to face shortages of qualified pilots and strong travel demand post-pandemic.

 

>>Americans Lost $8.8B To Scams

(Washington, DC) -- A new report says Americans lost a record-breaking eight-point-eight billion dollars to scams last year. New data from the Federal Trade Commission shows reported fraud losses increased more than 30-percent in 2022 from the year prior, despite the number of fraud reports decreasing. Investment scams cost Americans the most, at nearly four-billion. That's more than double the one-point-eight billion reported in 2021.

 

>>Tesla Factory Coming To Mexico

(Monterrey, MX) -- Elon Musk is striking a deal with the president of Mexico to build a Tesla factory in Monterrey. That's about two hours south of the Texas border. It could be a key part of Musk's plan to sell an all-electric car for 25-thousand dollars. Labor costs are lower in Mexico. To land the deal, Musk is promising to use recycled water at the factory. The northern part of Mexico has been dealing with severe drought.

AM Business Notebook

>>White House Confident In Legality Of Debt Forgiveness Plan

(Undated) -- The Biden administration is confident it can legally cancel 400-billion dollars of student loan debt. That's what White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters yesterday aboard Air Force One. The administration wants to provide borrowers the relief following the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. She said millions of Americans faced default on their loans due to the national emergency. The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a pair of cases challenging the plan.

 

>>Consumer Confidence Declines Again In February

(New York, NY) -- Confidence in the economy is slipping for a second straight month. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell to just under 103 in February, which is down three points from January. The survey noted fewer consumers are planning to purchase homes and cars or other big ticket items in the next 12 months despite a slight improvement in inflation expectations.

 

>>Apartment Rents Falling

(Undated) -- Apartment rents fell in every major metropolitan area in the U.S. over the past six months through January. Rents with new leases in January paid a median rent that was three-point-five percent lower than what they would have paid last August, according to estimates from the listing website Apartment List. However, rents in many cities still remain 25-to-30-percent higher than when the pandemic began.

 

>>Target CFO: "Organized Retail Crime" Cost $100s Of Millions In Lost Profits

(Minneapolis, MN) -- Target's chief financial officer says organized retail crime cost the retailer "hundreds of millions of dollars" in lost profits last year. CFO Michael Fiddelke said on Tuesday that inventory shrinkage, meaning stolen goods, is fueled in part by organized retail crime. Fiddelke said those losses are likely to challenge Target's bottom line this year. Fourth-quarter results Target reported on Tuesday beat expectations for the first time in a year. The big-box retailer posted earnings of a dollar-89 per share on revenue of 31-point-four billion dollars.

 

>>Virgin Galactic Completes Spacecraft Updates, Plans Q2 Flights

(Mojave, CA) -- Virgin Galactic has completed a long upgrade period for its tourist aircraft and plans to begin commercial flights in the second quarter of this year. The company founded by billionaire Richard Branson had suspended flights of the spaceplane VSS Unity and its carrier plane in 2021. Virgin Galactic said on Tuesday it plans two or three verification flights before its first commercial mission. The 450-thousand dollar fare will pay for a flight more than 50 miles above the Earth for about ten minutes in microgravity. Virgin Galactic is aiming for monthly flights to accommodate the 800 people who are signed up, and paid up, to fly.

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