Business News Archives for 2023-06

AM Business Notebook

>>Economy Grew More Than Expected In Q1

(Washington, DC) -- The US economy grew by a two percent annualized rate in the first quarter of the year, above predictions of one-point-four percent. Commerce Department GDP numbers out yesterday show that consumer spending also grew by more than four-point-two percent, despite inflation. Analysts had forecast three-point-eight percent growth.


>>Bud Light CEO Has "No Regrets" About Trans Partnership

(New York, NY) -- The CEO of Anheuser-Busch says he has no regrets about the Bud Light partnership with transgender star Dylan Mulvaney. CEO Brendan Whitworth made the comment Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," and said "there's a big social conversation taking place right now" and "big brands are right in the middle of it," not just Bud Light. Whitworth said his company has supported the LGBTQ community since 1998 and will continue to do so. Last month Bud Light lost its spot as the top-selling beer in the U.S. because of conservative boycotts over the Dylan Mulvaney partnership.


>>Weekly Jobless Claims Lower Than Predicted

(Washington, DC) -- The latest jobless report says unemployment insurance claims are down by 26-thousand from the previous week. The Department of Labor says 239-thousand claims were made in the week ending June 24th. The numbers are lower than what economists had predicted, pointing to continued strength in the labor market. "MarketWatch" says it's the biggest drop in four weeks.


>>Google To Block Canadian News Stories Over New Law

(Mountain View, CA) -- Google says it will block all links to news stories by Canadian media outlets once a new law takes effect. The tech giant said on Thursday it will block Canadian news articles for users in Canada in response to the law that would require tech companies to pay publishers for content. Google's announcement follows Meta's vow last week to black out Canadian publishers on Facebook and Instagram. Canada's Parliament passed the law called the Online News Act last week but it could be months before it goes into effect.

AM Business Notebook

>>Oregon's Self-Service Gas Prohibition Falls

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon's self-service gas prohibition has been repealed after 72 years. House Bill 2426 would require gas stations to staff half of the pumps, but the other have can be self-service. Fuel companies have wanted this for many years, siting staffing shortages. The Northwest Grocery Association, a retail and food supplier advocate, claims jobs won't be lost because half of the pumps are already closed due to understaffing.


>> Federal Reserve: 23 Biggest Banks Survived Severe Recession Test

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve says 23 of the biggest American banks were able to survive a severe recession scenario in a stress test. Every U.S. bank the test included was able to continue to lend to consumers and businesses, the regulator said. Despite a nearly 550-billion-dollar projected loss for the group, the banks were able to maintain minimum capital levels.


>>Gallup: More Americans Confident In U.S. Economy

(Washington, DC) -- More Americans are saying they have confidence in the U.S. economy. A Gallup poll shows June's Economic Confidence Index Score was at negative 32, on a scale from negative 100 to positive 100. The June score is the highest since January 2022, with the score almost always under 0 since the pandemic recession. Republicans rate their confidence much lower than Democrats, but both have increased similarly.


>>TikTok Users Bring Lawsuit Against Montana Funded By App

(Helena, MT) -- TikTok users are bringing a lawsuit funded by the company itself challenging Montana's ban against the app. The social media giant is covering legal fees for a group of five TikTok creators, according to a spokesperson for the platform. This is separate from TikTok's lawsuit to block Montana's new law that bans the app over national security concerns. The spokesperson said in a statement from the short-form video app said "We will support our creators in fighting for their constitutional rights."


>>Customers Cancelling F-150 Lightning Orders

(Dearborn, MI) -- Customers who originally placed an order for a Ford 150 Lightning are cancelling the order due to rising costs. The truck was introduced in 2022 with a price of 40-thousand dollars for the base model, but recent increases have pushed the base price to nearly 60-thousand dollars. Ford also had a problem with defective batteries which posed a fire risk but that issue has reportedly been resolved. Ford actually closed the ordering process for the Lightning after 200-thousand reservations were placed. Customers who have opted out say the price hikes were just too much.


>>One-Bedroom Rents Slow Across U.S.

(San Francisco, CA) -- Rising rents for one-bedroom apartments are slowing across the U.S. A new report from online rental platform Zumper shows that the nearly six-percent price increase for one-bedrooms year-over-year is the most modest gain in close to two years. Housing starts increasing and an uptick in new construction could be the reason for the cooling rents.


>> To Become Bed Bath & Beyond

(Midvale, UT) -- Utah-based is changing its name to Bed Bath & Beyond. The online retailer that bought Bed Bath & Beyond's intellectual property for 21-point-five million dollars said on Wednesday it will start operating its website under the bankrupt retailer's name. The change will begin in Canada. Starting in August, about a month after the last of Bed Bath & Beyond's stores in the U.S. close, customers in Canada who go to will be redirected to Overstock will also rebrand its mobile app and its rewards program.


>>National Geographic Lays Off Last Of Staff Writers

(Undated) -- National Geographic has laid off the last of its staff writers. The cuts come as parent company Walt Disney has let go thousands of staffers across its divisions this year. A company spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday that National Geographic will continue publish a monthly magazine. National Geographic had more than one-point-seven million subscribers at the end of 2022. News of the layoffs has come out Tuesday and Wednesday as departing staff writers posted on social media that they are now looking for work.

AM Business Notebook

>>President Biden Stopping In Chicago Today

(Chicago, IL)  --  President Joe Biden is returning to Illinois today.  Biden will be in Chicago to deliver a major address on the U.S. economy.  The president is also set to attend fundraisers as he campaigns for a second term in office.   


>>Americans Keeping Credit Card Debt A Secret 

(San Francisco, CA) -- Americans are keeping their credit-card debt a secret from their partners.  A survey by NerdWallet found two in five Americans think credit-card debt is embarrassing and have lied about other finances.  The national credit-card balance is around one trillion dollars and interest rates are topping 20 percent. Researchers say younger Americans are more likely to keep financial secrets from a partner. 


>>Report: Costco To Crack Down On Membership Sharing

(Issaquah, WA)  --  Costco is looking to crack down on membership sharing.  That's according to a report from Business Insider that says the wholesale retailer will start to ask for photo identification at its self checkout kiosks.  Business Insider said Costco has seen a jump in shoppers using membership cards that belong to friends, family or co-workers at the self checkout stations.  In a statement to the outlet, Costco said it doesn't feel it's right that nonmembers get the same benefits and pricing as its paying members.  Costco added that its memberships play a key role in the store's ability to offer low prices to customers.


>>Meta Launches New Parental Supervision Tools

(Menlo Park, CA)  --  Meta is rolling out new parental supervision tools for Instagram, Facebook and Messenger.  Parents will now be able see how much time their teen spends on Messenger and also view updates to their contacts list.  They'll also be able to control who is able to message their teen on the app.  On Instagram, Meta will now require users who want to message someone who doesn't follow them to send an invite that will need to be accepted by the recipient.  Meta will also nudge teens toward taking a break from Facebook by alerting them when they've spent 20 minutes on the app.


>>Actors Strike Deadline Looms

(Los Angeles, CA)  --  A deadline for Hollywood actors and studios to get a deal done is quickly approaching.  SAG-AFTRA's contract with studios expires on Friday.  Over the weekend, the union told members that negotiations with studios had been "extremely productive."  An actors strike would come as the industry is already facing production delays due to a writers strike.  The writers work stoppage is now in its ninth week.

AM Business Notebook

>>Consumer Confidence Jumps In June

(New York, NY) -- Americans are feeling much more confident about the economy. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index jumped more than seven points in June. That's its highest level since January 2022. The board's chief economist noted a spike in confidence among younger consumers and those earning over 35-thousand dollars. Despite an upbeat outlook for family finances, the survey also revealed fewer people plan to purchase cars and homes in the next six months.


>>Home Prices Show Unexpected Strength In April

(Washington, DC) -- A new report shows the U.S. housing market continued to strengthen in April. The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 city price Index rose nearly one percent last month. A combination of low inventory and high demand pushed home prices up overall nationwide. Miami, Chicago and Atlanta saw the biggest price gains on the 20 city index.


>>Rent Falling For The First Time In Years

(Minneapolis, MN) -- Rent is declining in the U.S. for the first time in three years. Economists say cooling inflation and a strong job market is the reason for the decline. The wave of "pandemic pricing" made rent soar and would-be homeowners remained renters because they were priced out of buying a home. Rents are expected to decline through the remainder of this year and into next year. It may take some time for this cooling to be reflected because of how infrequently the data is collected.


>>Actors Strike Deadline Looms

(Los Angeles, CA) -- A deadline for Hollywood actors and studios to get a deal done looms over the entertainment world this week. SAG-AFTRA's contract with studios expires on Friday. Over the weekend, the union told members that negotiations with studios had been "extremely productive." An actors strike would come as the industry is already facing production delays due to a writers strike. The writers work stoppage is now in its ninth week.


>>Meta Launches VR Subscription Service

(Menlo Park, CA) -- Meta is launching a new virtual reality subscription service for its headsets called Meta Quest-plus. The company made the announcement yesterday in an effort to generate recurring revenue. Users can pay seven-99 for access to two new games each month. The subscription is now available on the Meta Quest Store and compatible with all current and future VR headsets.


>>Problems Persist With Ford Explorer SUVs Despite Recall

(Dearborn, MI) -- Federal officials have issued a recall of over a quarter-million Ford Explorer SUVs. The issue is cracks in the rear axle mounting bolt that could allow the drive shaft to disconnect and the vehicle to roll even if in park. Ford engineers did a software upgrade that would have the emergency brake to engage if the drive shaft disconnected. At least two owners say the repair didn't work. Neither incident resulted in injuries and Ford says they are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the issue.


>>Taco John's Responds To Taco Bell's Effort To Cancel Taco Tuesday Trademark

(Alexandria, VA) -- Taco John's is firing back at Taco Bell in the fight over the "Taco Tuesday" trademark. In a filing Friday, the parent company of the Wyoming-based Taco John's denied there is anything "not cool" about owning the trademark for the popular phrase. Taco Bell is attempting to have the trademark canceled after Taco John's has held it since 1989. In its response to Taco Bell's efforts, Taco John's said the petition to cancel the trademark is filled with "statements of opinion to which no response is required, including that Tuesday is a mediocre day of the week." Taco John's added that a registered trademark being "fun to say" does not constitute a legal basis to cancel the trademark.

AM Business Notebook

>>Rent Is Falling America For The First Time In Years

(Minneapolis, MN) -- Rent is declining in the U.S. for the first time in three years. Economists say cooling inflation and a strong job market is the reason for the decline. The wave of "pandemic pricing" made rent soar and would-be homeowners remained renters because they were priced out of buying a home. Economists say rents are expected to decline through the remainder of this year and into next year. It may take some time for this cooling to be reflected because of how infrequently the data is collected.


>>SAG-AFTRA & AMPTP Talks Reportedly Going Well

(Los Angeles, CA) -- The leaders of Hollywood's biggest entertainment union believe progress is being made in contract negotiations with the major studios. In a video message posted online Saturday -- SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland announced talks between their union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are going well. Negotiations between the guild and the A-M-P-T-P got underway June 7th and are being monitored closely in light of the Writers Guild of America strike that's now approaching two months.


>>Strike Underway At Spirit AeroSystems

(Wichita, KS) -- A strike is underway at Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems. The strike began on Saturday after members of the International Machinists and Aerospace Workers union turned down a contract offer from the company. The contract proposal contained a 16-percent pay raise over four years that could have increased to 34-percent with other factors. Union workers spent the weekend picketing outside Spirit's Wichita facility.


>>News Zillow Study Shows Dark Gray Interiors Sell More

(Seattle, WA) -- A study says dark, dusky gray interiors add can add 25-hundred bucks to the value price of homes. Zillow surveyed more than four thousand prospective homebuyers across the U.S. and asked them about their color preferences. Charcoal gray scored the highest in the study because buyers are embracing moody and dramatic tones. Zillow also said a white kitchen can lower a home sale price by more than 600-dollars.


>>Spidey Returns To Number One Spot

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back on top of the North American box office charts. "Spider-Man -- Across the Spider-Verse" is this weekend's top film after earning just over 19-million-dollars at theaters across the U.S. and Canada. In second place is Pixar's "Elemental" with nearly 18-and-a-half-million-bucks. Coming in third is "The Flash" followed by the Jennifer Lawrence sex comedy "No Hard Feelings." Rounding out the top five is "Transformers -- Rise of the Beasts." Disney's "The Little Mermaid" fell this week to seventh place.

AM Business Notebook

>>Multnomah County Sues Oil Companies For Billions Over Deadly 2021 Heat Dome

(Portland, OR) -- On Thursday, Multnomah County sued a collection of oil companies, claiming their use of fossil fuels caused the deadly 2021 Pacific Northwest Heat Dome. The County alleges that carbon pollution from the Defendants' fossil fuel products was a significant contributing factor, and the companies should pay over fifty-billion dollars because of it. A three-day heat wave saw temperatures as high as 116 degrees. A lawyer for Chevron said: "These lawsuits are counterproductive distractions from advancing international policy solutions."


>>U.S. Home Prices See Biggest Drop Since 2011 (Minneapolis, MN) -- Existing home prices are seeing the biggest year-over-year drop in over a decade. The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that the median price last month was just over 396-thousand dollars. That's a drop of a little more than three-percent compared to a year ago -- the biggest decline seen since December 2011. Sales of existing homes rose slightly from April to May. However, sales were down a little more than 20-percent from a year ago.


>>Overstock Buys Bed, Bath & Beyond Intellectual Property And Digital Assets

(Union, NJ) -- Overstock is buying Bed, Bath & Beyond's intellectual property and digital assets. It's paying some 20-million-dollars for the Union-based bankrupt retailer's brand name and online business. It doesn't include keeping the brick-and-mortar stores open. A final approval of the sale is slated for a hearing next week.


>>Vice Media To Be Acquired For 225-Million Dollars

(New York, NY) -- Vice Media, once valued at billions of dollars, is being acquired out of bankruptcy for 225-million dollars. Three investment companies will takeover the media group after Vice said in a legal filing that it didn't receive any other worthwhile bids in his search to sell the company.


>>Over Seven-Million Baby Shark Toys Recalled

(Undated) -- Over seven-million Baby Shark bath toys are being recalled. On Thursday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the Pink Frog brand Baby Shark Sing and Swim Bath Toys have hard plastic top fins that pose a risk of "impalement, lacerations and punctures." The manufacturing company has received 12 reports of kids being injured by falling or sitting on the full-size bath toys. There are around seven and a half million units currently on the market. Newer editions of the toy that feature softer silicone top fins are not being recalled.


>>Hasbro Brings Back Furby

(Pawtucket, RI) -- Hasbro is bringing back a toy craze from the '90s. The toymaker launched a new version of its Furby animatronic toy on Amazon Thursday to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The 70-dollar toy will also be available in stores nationwide beginning July 15th after an almost ten-year absence. More than 40-million Furby toys were sold in the three years after it was first released in 1998.

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden Announces Upfront Ticket Pricing

(Washington, DC) -- Several companies are vowing to end surprise junk fees following pressure from the Biden administration. President Biden announced Thursday Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation and SeatGeek agreed to commit to show all fees up front for ticket purchases starting in September. The move is the latest in the administration's push to nix "junk fees," which are costs tacked on at the end of purchases, often for concert tickets, travel and rentals. The president said he believes the fees are "just wrong."


>>Vanguard: Average 401(k) Balance Down 30-Thousand Dollars Since 2021

(Valley Forge, PA) -- The average balance in 401k plans is down almost 30-thousand-dollars since 2021. A new report from Vanguard shows the 20-percent drop sitting under 113-thousand-dollars in 2022, with one in three account holders having a balance of less than 10-thousand. It said the drop could be due to "market performance and an evolving participant base." The median account balance only dropped by eight-percent for those who had an account in both December 2021 and December 2022.


>>Weekly Jobless Claims Unchanged At 262,000

(Washington, DC) -- Weekly jobless claims are unchanged, with the Labor Department reporting it received 262-thousand first time requests last week. That's exactly where they stood the week before that after being revised up by a thousand. Most analysts were expecting today's number to come in at right around 249-thousand.


>>Virgin Galactic Sets 1st Commercial Space Tourism Flight This Month

(Undated) -- Virgin Galactic plans to launch its first commercial space tourism flight late this month. Billionaire Richard Branson's company said on Thursday the flight is targeting a launch window that opens June 27th and runs through June 30th. A second commercial flight is planned for early August followed by flights every month after that. About 800 passengers have put down deposits for flights on Virgin Galactic. >>Mercedes-Benz Is Adding ChatGPT (Stuttgart) -- Mercedes-Benz is adding ChatGPT to its vehicles. ChatGPT will be able to answer the driver's complex questions and have natural conversations. The feature will be available to 900-thousand customers who have the Mercedes-Benz infotainment system. The beta program is scheduled to start on June 16th and will run for three months.


>>Bill Gates In China, To Meet With Xi Jinping

(Beijing) -- Bill Gates is in China, where he's scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping. The Microsoft co-founder's Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Thursday that it will donate 50-million dollars over the next five years into the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute. Gates met with the mayor of Beijing on Thursday and afterward the Chinese capital's municipal government announced it will match that investment.

AM Business Notebook

>>Weekly Jobless Claims Unchanged At 262,000

(Washington, DC)  --  Weekly jobless claims are unchanged, with the Labor Department reporting it received 262-thousand first time requests last week.  That's exactly where they stood the week before that after being revised up by a thousand.  Most analysts were expecting today's number to come in at right around 249-thousand.    


>>Fed Chair: "Long Way To Go" To Get Inflation Down To 2%

(Washington, DC) -- The chair of the Federal Reserve says inflation has moderated, but there's still a long way to go to get it to two-percent. Jerome Powell yesterday spoke about the Fed's decision to leave interest rates unchanged for the first time in more than a year. Most officials anticipate two more rate increases to come this year. The fed had raised rates by a total of five-percent since March 2022 in an effort to battle rising inflation. Powell noted it will take time for the full effects of the raised rates to be felt. The Fed believes it will be able to lower rates by about a half percent by the end of next year if inflation comes down as it anticipates.


>>Bud Light No Longer America's Top-Selling Beer

(St. Louis, MO) -- Bud Light is no longer the top-selling beer in the U.S. Nielsen data shows that the American beer was overtaken in May by Modelo Especial, the Mexican lager brewed near Mexico City. During a four-week period that ended on June 3rd, Modelo Especial made up eight-point-four-percent of U.S retail sales. Bud Light, which previously held the top spot for more than two decades, fell to seven-point-three percent. The Anheuser-Busch brand's drop in sales comes after a recent boycott by consumers over a promotional post by a transgender influencer.


>>Landlord Evicts Twitter From Boulder, Colorado Office

(Boulder, CO) -- A landlord is evicting Twitter from its offices in Boulder, Colorado after the company failed to pay its rent. A Boulder district court judge issued an eviction notice to the company late last month, ordering Twitter to return its suites to the owner of the property. The landlord asked Twitter to pay the outstanding amount several times but received no response. The company is also being sued by a cleaning contractor for nearly 100-thousand dollars in unpaid invoices.


>>EU Takes Aim At Google With Antitrust Charge

(Brussels) -- The European Union is charging Google with violating antitrust laws in using its dominance in online advertising to hamstring rivals. The charge announced Wednesday marks the fourth time the tech giant has been accused of breaking European antitrust laws. Online ads are at the core of Google's business, bringing in nearly 60 billion-dollars in profit for parent company Alphabet last year. The U.S. Justice Department filed similar charges in January and the UK is also investigating the company's business practices.

AM Business Notebook

>>Schumer Slams House Tax Proposal

(Washington, DC) - The top Senate Democrat is slamming a tax-cut proposal moving through the Republican-led House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Republicans are pushing for tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations while leaving ordinary Americans out to dry. He claimed the new proposal would increase the U.S. deficit by one-trillion dollars. Schumer said the "hypocrisy is astounding," as Republicans pushed for Washington to cut spending during debt ceiling negotiations and the U.S. nearly defaulted on its debt.


>> Fed Watchers Anticipate Interest Rate Pause

(New York, NY) -- Fed watchers are expecting the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates for the first time in eleven policy meetings following their two-day meeting that ends today. While an interest rate pause would be welcomed by many, investors are betting that the pause won't last. Markets see a roughly 71-percent probability of a pause, according to the CME FedWatch. Fed officials have hinted that they could soon skip a rate increase to give themselves time to assess the effects of their changes so far, and investors believe the Fed will hold policy steady now before lifting rates one more time in July. The current inflation rate is just under five-percent but the Fed targets a two-percent inflation mandate.


>>Food Prices Rise In May After Spring Dip

(New York, NY) -- Food prices are up as of last month after declining in the spring. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index, prices at the grocery store went up point-one percent from April to May. Menu items went up half a percent in the same time. Grocery prices are nearly six-percent more expensive than this time last year, and menu prices rose over eight-percent in the past year.


>>European Screenwriters Hold Day Of Solidarity With WGA Strike

(Brussels) -- European screenwriters are holding a "day of solidarity" today with striking American screenwriters. The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe is joining the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and writing groups from around the world for a global day of solidarity with the Writers Guild of America. The head of the federation said today that "screenwriters in Europe are in awe" of the WGA, and that "their fight is our fight." American screenwriters have been picketing the major studios in Los Angeles and New York since May 2nd, calling for better pay conditions.


>>Elizabeth Holmes Attorneys Argue She Shouldn't Have To Pay Restitution

(San Francisco, CA) -- Elizabeth Holmes' lawyers argue the former Theranos CEO has "limited financial means" and shouldn't be forced to pay 250-dollars a month to victims of her crimes after she's released from prison. Federal prosecutors said that no payment schedule was set for her restitution because of "clerical errors." She and her former COO Sunny Balwani were previously ordered to pay 452-million dollars to victims. Holmes reported to prison last month to serve her 11-plus year sentence.

AM Business Notebook

>>Inflation Rate Down To 4%

(Undated)  --  Inflation is slowing.  May's inflation rate was at its lowest annual rate in more than two years.  The Labor Department says the consumer price index jumped just a tenth of a percent for the month, bringing the annual rate down to four percent.  It was the smallest increase since March 2021, when inflation started to reach historic levels.  


>>NY Fed Survey Shows Inflation Outlook Hits 2-Year Low

(New York, NY)  --  Americans are feeling more optimistic that inflation is on the way down.  The New York Federal Reserve's latest survey of consumer expectations showed the inflation outlook hit a two-year low in May.  It fell three-tenths of a percent to a four-point-one percent rate.  The survey also found household finances remain solid with spending expected to rise about five-and-a-half percent over the next year.


>>Student Loan Payments Resume This Fall

(Washington, DC)  --  Student loan payments are due starting October. The Department of Education said the pandemic pause on monthly federal student loan bills will resume this year. The pause began in March 2020 and the Biden administration has previously said it would end either 60 days after June 30th or 60 days after the Supreme Court rules on the separate student loan forgiveness program. The Department clarified that student loan interest would resume on September 1st with payments due beginning in October. 


>>Report: AI Researchers Risking Mental Health

(Washington, DC)  --  Artificial intelligence researchers are risking their mental and emotional health. That's according to the American Psychological Association, which says researchers feel socially disconnected at work because of the sudden changes of working with AI. It also found employees working with AI are more likely to suffer from insomnia and alcoholism. Researchers say managers need to help their employees feel less lonely and should be cautious about having too much AI systems in the office. 


>>Grubhub Trims Corporate Workforce

(Chicago, IL)  --  Grubhub is downsizing its corporate staff.  The food delivery company is laying off 15 percent of its corporate workforce or about 400 employees.  Grubhub's CEO announced the move in a message to employees Monday citing a need to remain competitive in the marketplace.


>>Powerball Jackpot Jumps Again 

(Undated)  --  The Powerball jackpot is soaring, with no grand prize winner in Monday's drawing.  It's now up to 340-million dollars with the next chance to become an overnight multi-millionaire on Wednesday.  As for Tuesday night's Mega Millions drawing, that's worth 260-million.      

AM Business Notebook


>>Reddit Communities Going Dark Today In Protest

(San Francisco, CA) -- Almost 35-hundred Reddit pages are going dark today. It's in protest of the San Francisco-based tech company raising prices for developers of third-party apps. As part of the backlash, some subreddits will make their communities private for 48 hours. A top executive says they respect the decision, adding everyone is responsible for ensuring the social media site "provides an open accessible place for people to find community and belonging."


>>WGA Strike Impacts Tony Awards

(Sherman Oaks, CA) -- The writers strike that has brought Hollywood film and TV productions to a halt had an impact on the Tony Awards. The Writers Guild of America's contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired May 2nd. The guild represents thousands of writers of film, TV and streaming media and the alliance represents the studios and the walkout is having an economic impact on thousands of crew members and other behind-the-scenes employees. Sunday's awards ceremony was nearly canceled this year but an agreement was reached with the union and the Tonys were presented entirely unscripted.


>>Sen. Lankford Introduces A.I. Bill In Senate

(Washington, DC) -- Oklahoma Senator James Lankford is filing a bill to address the rise of artificial intelligence. Lankford joined fellow Republican Mike Braun and Democrat Gary Peters to introduce a bill late last week that would require federal agencies to tell people when they're using A-I to interact with them. The bill would also mandate that the agencies allow people to appeal decisions made by A-I. It was one of two bipartisan A-I bills introduced in the Senate yesterday, with the other establishing an office to ensure that the U.S. stays at the forefront of artificial intelligence technology.


>>Netflix Subscriptions Skyrocket

(Los Gatos, CA) -- Netflix is seeing a big bump in subscriptions since implementing new password sharing rules. The television analytics company Antenna reported Friday the streaming giants saw its best four day period of new sign-ups in the U.S. in the days following the announcement. Netflix gained nearly 100-thousand new subscribers on May 23rd and an aver of 73-thousand new sign-ups over that four day span. That marked a 102-percent increase for the previous 60-day average. Netflix shares were up just over two-percent when trading started Friday.


>>Powerball Hits $324 Million, Mega Millions At $260 Million

(Undated) -- No grand prize winner in Saturday night's already massive Powerball pushes the jackpot up to a whopping 324-million dollars ahead of Monday night's drawing. The following night brings on the Mega Millions drawing, with that jackpot standing at 260-million dollars.

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden, Sunak Sign Economic Agreement (Washington, DC) -- President Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are signing off on a major economic agreement. The two leaders met at the White House on Thursday and signed the Atlantic Declaration, which Sunak described as a first-of-its-kind economic partnership on artificial intelligence and other commercial relations. After the signing, Biden told reporters, "Our economic partnership is an enormous strength." Sunak said since leaving the EU, Britain is "as attractive an investment destination as ever."


>>American Airlines Allows Customers To Rebook Without Fees Due To Air Conditions

(Fort Worth, TX) -- American Airlines customers are being allowed to rebook flights without fees due to the smoky conditions in the Northeast. Passengers traveling to certain airports in nine states and Washington, DC who booked the flight by June 7th will have their change fees waived if they want to still travel to the same city. Smoke from hundreds of wildfires in Canada caused the FAA to delay flights at five major airports Thursday. The smoky conditions could last into the weekend.


>>Delta Agrees To Payback For Canceled Flights During Pandemic

(Atlanta, GA) -- Delta is paying back a group of customers who claim they didn't get their money back on flights canceled during the pandemic. The AJC reports the Atlanta-based airline recently agreed to a settlement to pay cash refunds plus interest. Affected customers must have booked a flight between March 1st, 2020 and April 30, 2021. They were also required to have requested a refund through the customer care database.


>>White House Celebrates Supply Chain Meltdown Easing

(Washington, DC) -- The White House is celebrating the easing of the supply chain meltdown. The COVID pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine had brought supply chains to their knees, but now the Biden administration says bottlenecks are easing. Officials say that will also help slow inflation. In a supply chain scorecard shared with CNN, the White House says supply chains are "significantly more fluid and resilient than they were when the President took office."


>>SCOTUS Sides With Jack Daniel's In Dog Toy Case

(Washington, DC) -- The U.S. Supreme Court is siding with Jack Daniel's in a ruling announced Thursday involving a dog toy. The distiller had sued VIP Products over a dog toy that resembles Jack Daniel's bottles claiming it violated federal trademark law. The Supreme Court was unanimous in its ruling after Jack Daniel's argued an appeals court was wrong in saying the toy was "non-commercial" and had constitutional protection. However, the High Court didn't grant Jack Daniel's request to toss the test the lower court used when it ruled in favor of the toy maker. That would have made it easier for trademark holders to sue over parodies of their marks.

AM Business Notebook

>>Weekly Jobless Claims Are Up

(Washington, DC) -- Weekly jobless claims are up. The U.S. Labor Department says the number of American workers applying for first-time unemployment benefits rose to 261-thousand in the week ending June 3rd. That's the highest level since October of 2021. Most analysts had expected today's number to come in at right around 236-thousand.


>>Biden Vetoes Measure Overturning Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

(Washington, DC) -- President Biden is vetoing a measure that would have overturned his plan to assist with student debt. Biden said in a tweet Wednesday he will not "back down on helping hardworking folks," adding he will never "apologize" for helping Americans as they recover from the pandemic. The proposal would impact 40-million borrowers, giving ten-thousand dollars in loan forgiveness to those making under 125-thousand, and 20-thousand for those who received Pell Grants. It will now head to the Supreme Court, where a conservative majority is expected to be against it.


>>Yellen 'Wouldn't Be Surprised' By More Bank Consolidation

(Washington, DC) -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says more bank consolidation is possible in the U.S. In an interview with CNBC, Yellen said she wouldn't be surprised to see further consolidation among small banks in the banking sector as some are experiencing pressure on earnings. She added that some banks may face challenges relating to commercial real estate due to higher interest rates and remote work affecting demand for office space. Yellen's comments come after several mid-sized banks failed and were seized and sold by federal regulators earlier this year.


>>Boeing Discovers Another Quality Problem On 787 Jets

(Everett, WA) -- Another manufacturing defect has been discovered on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Boeing announced Tuesday that officials found a flaw in the stabilizer, an attachment fitting on the horizontal tail, which will delay deliveries of the plane. Officials say the defect in the tail is not an immediate safety of flight issue.


>>Report: Amazon Plans Ad Tier For Prime Video

(Seattle, WA) -- Ads could be coming to Amazon's Prime Video service. The Wall Street Journal reports the tech giant is considering an ad-supported tier for its streaming platform. The discussions come as Amazon has laid off tens of thousands of workers recently. Prime Video is currently available to customers who pay 14-99 each month for Amazon's Prime membership or eight-99 per month on its own. The Wall Street Journal says Amazon is considering charging existing Prime subscribers more for an ad-free option.

AM Business Notebook

>>Stocks Open Higher

(New York, NY)  --  Wall Street is opening with stocks higher.  This comes after the S&P 500 closed at its highest level in 2023 yesterday.  It's also as the U.S. trade deficit continued to rise in April but was slightly lower expectations, which could translate to lower GDP growth in the second quarter. 


>>LIV Golf, PGA Tour To Merge

(Ponte Verdra Beach, FL)  --  The PGA Tour and LIV Golf will merge.  The deal will see the end of pending litigation.  The Saudi-backed LIV Golf disrupted the golf world by offering big paydays to lure golfers like Phil Mickelson away from the PGA Tour.  The PGA responded by revoking the tour cards of golfers who competed in LIV Golf.  The once-rivals will now combine into a new, yet-to-be-named company.  The agreement also includes the DP World Tour, known as the European PGA Tour.  


>>SEC Sues Crypto Exchange Coinbase

(Washington, DC)  --  The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.  The regulator accuses Coinbase of failing to register with the SEC and therefore operating illegally.  The lawsuit comes just a day after the SEC filed a lawsuit against Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange.  SEC Chair Gary Gensler told CNBC crypto markets are undermining capital markets.  Coinbase's legal counsel said the crypto exchange will continue to operate as usual and that it has "demonstrated commitment to compliance."


>>DeSantis Signs Digital Bill Of Rights

(Wildwood, FL)  --  Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is taking aim at big tech companies.  The governor on Tuesday signed legislation known as the Digital Bill of Rights.  DeSantis says the measure will create privacy protections for residents by giving them control of their personal data and banning government officials from coordinating with technology companies to censor free speech.  The law will also require search engines, like Google, to get permission before they can collect and sell user data.  It is scheduled to take effect in July of next year. 


>>Minnesota AG Sues Walmart, Reynolds For Lying About 'Recycling' Bags

(St. Paul, MN)  --  Walmart and Reynolds Consumer Products  --  the parent company of the Hefty brand  --  are being sued by the Democratic Minnesota Attorney General.  The lawsuit claims the companies' "recycling" bags are not recyclable in Minnesota.  Keith Ellison says the bags cause sorting machinery at the state's material recovery facilities to malfunction and catch fire. The lawsuit says the bags raise costs for Minnesota taxpayers and mislead consumers.

AM Business Notebook

>>Microsoft To Pay $20M For Collection Of Children's Data

(Redmond, WA)  --  Microsoft will pay 20-million-dollars to settle charges that the company illegally collected personal data from children.  The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement Monday after accusing the tech company of taking info from kids who signed up for an Xbox gaming account without getting parental consent.  Microsoft will have to put stronger protections in place as part of the settlement.  


>>Saudi Government To Cut Oil Production, Sending U.S. Prices Up

(Riyadh)  --  Saudi Arabia plans to cut oil production this summer, which will likely push gas prices higher in the U.S.  OPEC's largest oil producer will cut production by one million barrels a day from ten to nine million.  That's happening despite OPEC saying it wouldn't change production plans for the rest of 2023. 


>>UPS Teamsters Considering Vote On Strike

(Sandy Springs, GA)  --  Union members are on the verge of taking a vote to authorize a strike against UPS.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the shipping company are trying to come to a new agreement before their contract runs out at the end of July.  The vote will be held this week.


>>Allstate Drops Property Insurance In CA

(San Diego, CA)  --  Another insurance company is dropping property insurance in California. Allstate says it's too expensive to insure new home customers in California. The company blames wildfires, higher costs to repair homes, and higher reinsurance premiums. State Farm made a similar announcement last month. According to Cal Fire, seven-thousand-490 wildfires burned in California in 2022, damaging or destroying 876 structures.   Last year, the California Insurance Commissioner submitted new regulations, requiring insurance companies to provide discounts to consumers and other protections, including larger payouts and less red tape. Insurers say the new rules make it more challenging to quickly adjust prices during high inflation.


>>Apple Unveils iPhone Update, New Products

(Cupertino, CA)  --  Apple is unveiling its latest iPhone update and new products.  The tech giant announced its iOS 17 iPhone software update at its Worldwide Developers Conference event Monday.  New features like full-screen posters for contacts, live transcriptions of voicemails and video voicemails using FaceTime will be included in the update.  Apple also introduced a new 15-inch MacBook Air that at just three-point-three pounds is the world's thinnest laptop.  The new laptop will be available starting at about 13-hundred dollars.


>>Spotify Lays Off 200 From Podcasting Team

(New York, NY)  --  Spotify is laying off 200 people on its podcasting team. The streaming service said in an internal update that it's part of a "pivot" to allow for it to support creators in a better way. Spotify previously cut about 6 percent of its staff in January, saying it was "too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth."


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