Business News Archives for 2024-01

AM Business Notebook

>>Fed Not Expected To Lower Rates Just Yet

(Undated) -- The Federal Open Market Committee is preparing to make its first announcement on interest rates of the year. A two-day Fed meeting ends today with most analysts predicting no rate change this time around.

 

>>Gallup: Americans More Confident In Economy

(Washington, DC) -- Americans are more confident in the U.S. economy than they've been in at least two years. According to the latest Gallup Economic Confidence Index, the outlook is still overall negative but has improved over the last two months and is at its highest point since January 2022. But it also found that nearly two in three Americans are still concerned about inflation and say price increases have caused financial stress on their households.

 

>>Judge Tosses Elon Musk's $56B Tesla Pay Package

(Wilmington, DE) -- A judge in Delaware is voiding the 56-billion dollar pay package of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Judge Kathaleen McCormick found that the company's board of directors failed to prove "that the compensation plan was fair." Shares of the company fell about three-percent in after-hours trading following the ruling. The 2018 pay package granted to Musk was the largest compensation plan in public corporate history, leading to Musk becoming the wealthiest person in the world. Musk responded on X to the news Tuesday afternoon with the warning, "Never incorporate your company in the state of Delaware."

 

>>GM Does U-Turn On Electric Vehicles.

(Detroit, MI) -- General Motors is making a U-Turn on plans for all-electric vehicles. After announcing a profit of 12-point three billion dollars in North America for 2023, the company's CEO said it will return to a focus on hybrid vehicles before a switch to total electric cars. GM's CFO says "The pace of E.V. growth has slowed, which has created some uncertainty." This week's announcement comes as the Biden administration continues to push automakers to go 100-percent electric.

 

>>Alphabet Misses Ad Revenue Expectations

(Mountain View, CA) -- Google parent company Alphabet's stock slid four percent in extended trading Tuesday after the company missed expectations for ad revenue. The company reported overall fourth quarter revenue of 72-billion-dollars, a billion dollars above predictions. But ad revenue was at 65-point-five billion, compared with analyst predictions of 65-point-eight.

 

>>UPS Announces 12-Thousand Job Cuts

(Atlanta, GA) -- UPS is laying off 12-thousand employees. The news comes after the company reported earnings on Tuesday that fell short of revenue estimates. It also reported drops in international and domestic shipping volume. On a company earnings call, CEO Carol Tome said the layoffs will save the company around one-billion-dollars in costs.

 

>>Report: WSJ Planning Layoffs

(New York, NY) -- The Wall Street Journal is reportedly planning lay offs in its Washington, DC bureau this week. Axios reports the move will involve a small number of layoffs with some of its Washington-based economics coverage moving to New York. Some of the people laid off will be able to apply for new positions.

 

>>Byron Allen Offers $30B Offer For Paramount

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Media mogul Byron Allen is making a 30-billion-dollar offer for Paramount Global. The former TV host made a bid Tuesday that would include the company's 15-billion-dollar debt load and the value of the shares issued by Paramount. A statement from the Allen Media Group says the offer "is the best solution for all of the Paramount Global shareholders, and the bid should be taken seriously and pursued." The Allen Media Group owns the Weather Channel and a syndicated TV business. Paramount Global hasn't commented on the offer.

 

>>SeaWorld Entertainment Getting New Name

(Orlando, FL) -- A change is coming to the company that runs SeaWorld parks. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc confirms it will be getting a new name, United Parks and Resorts Inc. It'll take effect February 12th. A new website and stock market ticker symbol are also part of the change. The company also owns Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove, Sesame Place, Water Country USA, Adventure Island, and Aquatica. All of them will keep their name. The company's CEO says the new name better reflects what they have been and will continue to be about - a diverse collection of park brands and experiences.

AM Business Notebook

>>Job Openings Unexpectedly Rise

(New York, NY)  --  New data shows the number of job openings in the U.S. are up unexpectedly. The Labor Department said Tuesday there were nine-million job openings in December.  Most economists say job openings right now are at a healthy level. The Feds use this data to determine if there should be any additional rate hikes to help curb inflation.   

 

>>Fed Not Expected To Lower Rates Just Yet

(Undated) -- The Federal Open Market Committee kicks off its first meeting of the year today. It's a two-day event that culminates with an announcement on the future of interest rates Wednesday. Most analysts are predicting no rate change at the moment, but a March rate cut is very much still in the conversation.

 

>>Toyota Recalls Older Models

(Undated) -- Toyota is asking the owners of 50-thousand older model vehicles to get immediate recall repairs for potentially fatal faulty airbags. The recall affects some 2003-04 Corollas and 2004-05 RAV4 with Takata air bag inflators. More than 67 million Takata inflators have been recalled since 2009 after causing at least 30 deaths and hundred of injuries.

 

>>Prime Video Begins Running Commercials

(Seattle, WA) -- Amazon Prime Video is starting to air commercials on the streaming service. Users who didn't agree to pay an extra two-99 a month for the ad-free option, started to see limited advertisements Monday. The company said in September the extra charge will allow them to continue "investing in compelling content." >>Verdict Expected This Week In Trump's Civil Fraud Trial In NY (New York, NY) -- A verdict is expected as soon as this week in Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York. State Attorney General Letitia James wants a Manhattan judge to order Trump to pay a 370-million dollar fine in her case against the former president, which accuses him of falsely inflating the value of real estate in order to get more favorable loans.

 

>>First Human With Neuralink Implant Recovering

(Undated) -- Elon Musk says the first human to receive a Neuralink cybernetic brain implant is recovering. The company, founded by Musk, aims to eventually use the implants to control electronic devices and allow people with paralysis to regain motor function. Musk hopes the implants could help people with diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The tech billionaire posted on X that the implant was put in a human for the first time on Sunday.

 

>>Amazon and iRobot Deal Off

(Undated) -- Amazon is pumping the brakes on its iRobot purchase. On Monday, both companies revealed that they mutually agreed to call off the deal citing "no path to regulatory approval in the European Union." As a result, Amazon will have to fork over 94-million dollars to the robotic vacuums maker due to a termination fee. As for iRobot, the company said around 350 employees will be laid off, and its CEO, Colin Angle, is stepping down.

 

>>Rep. Gottheimer Ramps Up Efforts To Keep AM Radio In Electric Vehicles

(Paramus, NJ) -- New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer is ramping up efforts to keep AM radio in electric vehicles. Speaking at a Tesla dealership Monday, the Democrat called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require the sticker prices of electric cars without AM to include warnings that they're unsafe in certain emergencies. Gottheimer also said there's broad, bipartisan support for a bill ensuring that AM is included in a car's features at no additional cost to customers. Gottheimer accused automakers like Tesla of putting families' safety at risk just to save a few bucks, saying it's been essential during major disasters like 9-11 and Superstorm Sandy, as well as inclement weather.

AM Business Notebook

>>Burgerville coming to Bend

(Vancouver, WA)--The Burgerville restaurant chain has announced its intention to come to Bend sometime before mid-2025. The chain has 39 locations, mostly in the Portland-Vancouver market. It has been eight years since Burgerville has opened a new location. Wilsonville will be the first in the expansion; opening this spring or summer.

 

>>A Look Ahead At The Coming Week In Business News

(Undated) -- Coming up in the business week ahead, things will get off to a slow start Monday with no major economic or earnings reports on the horizon. Fast forward to Tuesday and Google parent Alphabet's fourth quarter results will be in the spotlight alongside Microsoft. We'll also get word on job openings, consumer confidence and the S&P Case-Shiller home price index. The following day brings an announcement from the Federal Reserve on interest rates and the ADP employment report. Weekly first-time unemployment claims come in Thursday, as well as earnings results from Amazon and Apple. Ending the week on Friday, the monthly jobs report will be released.

 

>>Oil Futures Jump After Attack

(Undated) -- Oil futures jumped Sunday night after a drone attack in Jordan killed three U.S. servicemembers. The White House blames the attack, which also injured more than two dozen Americans, on Iranian-backed militants. West Texas crude jumped half a percent to 78-dollars and 41-cents a barrel.

 

>>X Hiring Content Moderators

(Austin, TX) -- Social media site X is looking to hire a hundred content moderators for its new office in Austin. The main focus for the new hires will be to fight child abuse content. The company is opening up the "Trust and Safety center of excellence" and is hoping to fill the positions by the end of the year.

 

>>Levi Strauss to Cut 15% of Global Workforce

(San Francisco, CA) -- Levi Strauss & Company plans to slash its global workforce by as much as 15 percent. The cuts, which are expected to come during the first half of this year, are part of the San Francisco-based company's two-year restructuring plan to reduce costs and simplify operations. The layoffs were announced on the same day a 170-million dollar, 10-year extension was revealed for naming rights to Levi's Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play football.

 

>>Tax Season Begins

(Undated) -- Income tax season is here. You can start filing your 2023 federal income tax return today. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Danny Werfel says that they are ready to make tax filing as "smooth and easy as possible."

AM Business Notebook

>>FAA Approves Path For Boeing 737 Max 9s To Fly

(Washington, DC) -- The FAA says Boeing can once again fly its 737 Max 9 planes. This, after the agency completed its safety review following the in-flight blow out of a door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month. But the FAA accompanied the ruling with a warning, saying the "incident must never happen again." It also said it wouldn't approve any expansion of 737 Max lineup production for the time-being. Alaska said it will fly some of its 737 Max 9s this week, and United Airlines said it would begin using its fleet this weekend.

 

>>PCE Shows Inflation Cooling In December

(Washington, DC) -- A key inflation indicator shows prices easing as 2023 came to a close. December's PCE price index shows prices rose two-tenths of a percent for the month and were up two-point-nine percent on a yearly basis. Including volatile food and energy costs, inflation held steady at two-point-six percent for the year. Experts say the reading makes it more likely the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates later in the year.

 

>>Billionaire Wants Incorporated Town

(Austin, TX) -- Elon Musk wants to create a whole new town in Texas. But a deal to do a land-swap around his launch pad near Boca Chica Beach is not sitting well with environmental groups. Mary Angela Branch, who is with the non-profit SaveRGV, is unhappy with the deal. They oppose giving away more Texas land to a private company. But the plan is seemingly moving forward. Cameron County and Brownsville officials have both voiced support for recognizing Starbase as an official place. They say locals already use that name to describe the area.

 

>>Microsoft Laying Off 1,900 Employees

(Seattle, WA) -- Microsoft is laying off nearly two-thousand workers from its gaming division. The workforce reduction comes three months after Microsoft acquired "Call of Duty" game publisher Activision Blizzard. Microsoft bought the video game giant for 75-billion dollars. Those impacted by the layoffs are mostly Activision employees. In an email to employees, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming said the layoffs targeted "areas of overlap."

 

>>NY Daily News Stages Walkout

(New York, NY) -- New York Daily News staff staged a walkout Thursday to protest ongoing cuts by the paper's hedge fund owners. Around 40 members of the Daily News union were on the picket line around the Manhattan office building where it uses a small co-working space. The paper sold off its headquarters in 2020. It's owned by Alden Global Capital and workers say they've been reduced to a skeleton staff. Employees argue that the owner's policies and reduced staff have hurt the paper's ability to cover the city. Salaries were cut as much as 15 percent during the pandemic and have not been restored.

 

>>JPMorgan Chase Reorganizes Management

(New York, NY) -- JPMorgan Chase is reorganizing management in preparation for when CEO Jamie Dimon is no longer in charge. Jennifer Piepszak and Troy Rohrbaugh are now co-CEOs of a new commercial and investment bank division. Another frontrunner for the eventual CEO job is Marianne Lake, who will now be fully the lead of the bank's consumer division. President and chief operating officer Daniel Pinto is giving up his title as CEO of corporate and investment banking but will still be working in several other roles.

 

>>Survey: Less Than Half Of Americans Have $1,000 For An Emergency

(New York, NY) -- A new study shows less than half of all Americans are prepared for a one-thousand-dollar emergency expense. The Bankrate survey out this week shows only 44-percent of Americans have a thousand dollars set aside for an emergency. Among those who are unprepared, 21-percent said they would use credit cards to cover emergency expenses, 16-percent said they would cut spending elsewhere to pay for it and ten-percent said they would borrow money from a loved one. Only four-percent said they would take out a personal loan.

 

>>Twitch Reducing Streamer Payout

(Undated) -- Twitch streamers are about to see a dip in payments from the live streaming service. It was announced that through its partnership with Amazon Prime, there will be a shakeup in the payment model for Prime Gaming benefit. Streamers will make 25 cents less than before per gaming subscription. Twitch CEO Dan Clancy said in a blog post Wednesday night that the change is less than five percent in the majority of countries. According to the Verge, streams had been making either two and a half or three and a half dollars per subscription depending on the popularity of the streamer.

AM Business Notebook

>>U.S. GDP Grew More Than Expected In Fourth Quarter

(Washington, DC) -- New government data shows the U.S. economy grew faster than expected the last quarter of 2023. The Commerce Department reported Thursday the country's gross domestic product increased by three-point-three-percent year-over-year in 2023's fourth quarter. That was more than the two-percent growth expected by Wall Street. The report comes as the race for the White House heats up. President Biden has been touting his economic policies while GOP frontrunner former President Trump has warned the country's economy will crash within the next year.

 

>>Biden Thanks UAW For Endorsement

(Washington, DC) -- The United Auto Workers union is endorsing President Biden's re-election campaign. Biden thanked the labor group Wednesday for the boost of support as he gears up for a likely rematch against former President Trump in November. Biden, who calls himself the "most pro-union president in history," told UAW workers he's focused on fundamentally changing the economy to give working Americans "a fair shot." UAW President Shawn Fain meanwhile didn't hold back in his criticism of Trump while announcing the Biden endorsement. He said Biden has consistently "bet on the American worker" while Trump has blamed American workers. The endorsement comes after Biden made the unprecedented move of visiting a UAW picket line during the union's strike against Detroit automakers last year.

 

>>Tesla Misses Revenue Estimates

(Austin, TX) -- Tesla stock dropped six percent Wednesday after the electric automaker missed fourth quarter revenue estimates. Revenue from vehicles rose just one percent, well below analyst predictions. Tesla told investors that while vehicle volume growth may be lower than last year, the company is looking towards launching a next-generation vehicle, with CEO Elon Musk predicting a "major growth wave" on the horizon.

 

>>Explorers Recalled For Trim Piece Problem

(Dearborn, MI) -- Approximately one-point nine million Ford Explorer SUVs are being recalled by the automaker. Officials say a piece of trim on the vehicle can break free and become an airborne hazard for other drivers. The recall is for Explorers from the 2011 to 2019 model years. Ford is telling owners to contact dealers and schedule inspection when parts become available. Documents show over 14-thousand reports of the trim parts missing or being detached but no reports of accidents or injuries were found.

 

>>Kia Announces Recall

(Undated) -- Federal safety regulators are putting out a recall on two Kia models. The Kia Carnival 2022-2024 and Kia Sportage 2023-2024 models may have a roof safety issue and need to be inspected and replaced. The roof of the cars can become loose and detached while driving. Kia will inspect and possibly secure the roof for free. Owners should receive letters of notification by March 15th. More than 100-thousand cars and SUVs are involved in this recall.

 

>>Newton, MA Schools Canceled Again As Strike Continues

(Newton, MA) -- A strike by teachers in Newton, Massachusetts continues with schools closed again today over the walkout. The Newton Teachers Association met with city officials for negotiations yesterday and emerged without a new agreement. Newton teachers have been without a contract since August, and are absorbing huge daily fines for violating the state law banning teacher strikes. Fines against the union began at 25-thousand-dollars on Monday and have increased each day, with yesterday's fine at 175-thousand-dollars.

 

>>Riot Games Lays Off Over 500 Employees

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Another tech company is laying off some of its staff. Riot Games, which created the game "League of Legends," is cutting over five hundred jobs. That's about eleven percent of its workforce. According to the company's CEO, the layoff is meant to "create focus and move the company toward a sustainable future." In a statement, the Los Angeles-based company says it stretched investments too much and doubled its staff in a relatively short time. The company says the layoff is a "necessity" and says it will focus on games.

 

>>MrBeast Says He Made Over 250-Thousand Dollars Posting Video To X

(San Francisco, CA) -- MrBeast says he made over 250-thousand dollars from one video posted to X. The influencer, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, included a screenshot in a post on the platform that appears to show his creator payment screen. MrBeast, who gained recognition for his highly produced YouTube videos, responded to owner Elon Musk last month saying he didn't think he would make enough money posting videos to X to make it worthwhile. But then he decided to test the social media platform's ad revenue sharing program by posting an old video, which garnered more than 160-million views. That could be a sign of how much money other influencers could make on X.

 

>>Some Eligible For Chick-Fil-A Gift Card

(Undated) -- Residents of New Jersey, California, Florida, Georgia, or New York could be eligible for a Chick-fil-A gift card worth 29-95. It's part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit over inflated delivery prices during the COVID pandemic. Customers have to submit a claim by February 15th.

AM Business Notebook

>>United Airlines CEO "Disappointed" With Boeing

(New York, NY) -- United Airlines' CEO says he's "disappointed" in Boeing's recent issues that have led to United planes being grounded. Scott Kirby said on CNBC that Boeing needs "real action" to fix its reputation. He said he's spoken to the company's CEO Dave Calhoun to talk about his issues, saying United is Boeing's "biggest customer in the world." The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing and ordered the grounding of close to 200 Boeing 757 Max 9 aircraft after a door plug panel flew off an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month.

 

>>Newspaper Cutting About A Quarter Of Staff

(Los Angeles, CA) -- The Los Angeles Times is announcing mass layoffs, as it cuts about a quarter of its staff. California's largest daily paper is laying off 115 people from its newsroom. The cuts were anticipated. Unionized journalists staged a one-day work stoppage last week to protest the layoffs. The L-A Times is owned by Doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong. He says the paper is losing between 30 and 40 millions dollars each year. Employment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas estimates that more than 26-hundred news jobs were lost in recent months.

 

>>Court Upholds Ban On Shkreli Working In Pharmaceutical Industry

(New York, NY) -- A federal court in Manhattan is upholding the lifetime ban for the man some refer to as "Pharma Bro," Martin Shkreli [[ Shh-krellee ]], from working in the pharmaceuticals industry. The court ruled unanimously on the ban, while ordering him to pay 64-million in profits for blocking competition to his HIV drug. Shkreli raised the price of the life-saving drug by over four-thousand-percent in 2015 overnight, and he also served time for securities fraud. Meanwhile, the FTC is also requesting he be held in contempt of court for violating the ban when he formed the company Druglike which the agency ruled "appears to be involved in the drug industry." Shkreli can still ask that his appeal be reheard by the full lineup of judges on the 2nd Circuit court, as opposed to the three member panel yesterday Tuesday, and he can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

 

>>SoCal-to-Vegas High-Speed Rail Project Gets Injection of Federal Funds

(San Bernardino, CA) -- The Southern California to Las Vegas high-speed rail project just got an injection of funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation is approving two-and-a-half billion dollars in bonds for the estimated 12 billion dollar plan. Planners hope to have the line completed in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

 

>>Chevrolet Unveils Updated Equinox

(Detroit, MI) -- The fourth generation of the Chevrolet Equinox SUV has been revealed by General Motors. The 2025 model features styling similar other SUVs in the Chevrolet lineup and the Chevrolet Silverado pickup. It will feature a large display on the dashboard and an 11-inch information center screen. GM says the system will operate like a smartphone using Google technology. The Equinox will be in dealer showrooms in the summer.

AM Business Notebook

>>United Forecasts Q1 Loss

(Chicago, IL) -- United Airlines is forecasting a first-quarter loss after the FAA grounded Boeing 737 Max 9 jets this month. Monday's announcement came after the door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines 737 on January 5th. Both United and Alaska airlines have had to cancel hundreds of flights while the planes undergo a safety inspection.

 

>>Pilots For Southwest Airlines Approve Contract

(Dallas, TX) -- The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association says pilots for the Dallas-based carrier have overwhelmingly approved a new contract that will result in about a 50-percent pay raise over the next five years. The pilots will get an immediate raise of just over 29-percent, and a four-percent raise in 2025, 2026, and 2027. In 2028, the pilots get a three-and-a-quarter percent raise. The deal includes other benefit improvements like changes to work rules and scheduling, paid maternity and parental leave, and retirement plans. The 12-billion dollar contract was approved with 93-percent of the votes cast by Southwest's 11-thousand pilots. Pay raises for pilots have been commonplace recently. Pilots for Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines have all secured higher-paying contracts in the past year.

 

>>California State University Faculty Strike Over

(Long Beach, CA) -- California State University's historic faculty strike is over after less than a day. The California Faculty Association and CSU agreed to a tentative deal on Monday night. It includes a retroactive salary increase, added parental leave, and more protections for faculty. Nearly 30-thousand CSU employees went on strike Monday, the first day of the spring semester. They had been planning to strike for five days.

 

>>Gallup: Ethics Ratings For All Professions Drop

(Washington, DC) -- Ethics ratings for almost all professions are down this year. That's according to a Gallup survey that asked 800 Americans to rate the honesty and ethical standards of those who work in 23 different fields. Labor union leaders were the only profession rated more highly in 2023 than in 2019, by one percentage point up to 25-percent. Nurses had the highest rating overall at 78-percent, but that's down from 85-percent in 2019. Meanwhile, five professions hit record lows since Gallup began tracking the question in 1976 including pharmacists, clergy, journalists, and lastly with ratings below ten percent - senators and members of Congress. Bankers and business executives tied their previous low points, at 19 and 12-percent respectively.

 

>>Feds Crack Down On Data Brokers Selling Location Information Without Consent

(New York, NY) -- The Federal Trade Commission is banning a company from selling or licensing people's precise geolocation data for the first time ever. The FTC settled with Texas-based data aggregator InMarket Media after they gathered troves of consumer location data from mobile apps without disclosing that it would be used for targeted advertising. The agency alleges the data broker marketed to advertisers looking for certain categories of people, such as "Christian church goers," "parents of preschoolers," and "children who are homeschooled."

 

>>NYC Invests In Country's Largest Medical Debt Program

(New York, NY) -- New York City is investing in what will be the country's largest medical debt relief program. Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan says New York City will partner with a nonprofit called RIP Medical Debt to invest 18-million-dollars over three years to relieve two billion dollars' worth of unpaid medical bills. The one-time debt relief program will launch sometime this year and aims to wipe out medical debt for roughly half a million underinsured, uninsured, or low-income New Yorkers. Dr. Vasan says he has seen firsthand how medical debt forces patients to make impossible decisions, and no one should have to choose between paying their rent or getting the healthcare they need.

AM Business Notebook

>>Sports Illustrated Lays Off Most Of Its Staff

(New York, NY) -- Iconic sports publication Sports Illustrated is laying off most of its staff. According to the staff's union, possibly all of the staff has been let go after Sports Illustrated's owner had its publishing license revoked. The union says it will continue to fight for the magazine to be published. Sports Illustrated came under fire recently after it was accused of publishing AI generated stories under fake names. The sports magazine published its first issue in 1954.

 

>>Wayfair Laying Off 13% Of Global Workforce

(Boston, MA) -- Wayfair is laying off 13-percent of its global workforce. The move will affect more than 16-hundred employees, particularly people in corporate management and leadership positions. The online home goods retailer says its trimming down management and cutting costs to get the company back to its core structure. This is the third wave of Wayfair's restructuring efforts, which started in the summer of 2022, and is expected to save the company around 280-million-dollars.

 

>>Theft At Self-Checkout Kiosks Proves A Massive Problem For Retailers

(New York, NY) -- Retails stores across the country are reversing course on self-checkout machines. Stores are saying they're a disaster for consumers and retailers alike, with the biggest problem being theft. Shoppers are reportedly 21 times more likely to sneak items past machines than human cashiers, and it's also easy for consumers to steal unintentionally. According to a survey from Lending Tree, one-in-five shoppers reported they've accidentally stolen items during self-checkout, and one-in-seven said they've stolen from self-checkout on purpose. Target, Walmart and Dollar General are all pulling back from efforts to introduce more self-checkouts.

 

>>Tentative Agreement Reached, CSU Faculty Strike Averted

(Long Beach, CA) -- A strike by California State University faculty members has been averted after a tentative agreement was reached Friday night. Members of the California Faculty Association had scheduled a five-day strike at all CSU campuses set to begin today. A statement from the CSU system said "the agreement covers eleven-hundred skilled trades employees across 22 of the CSU's 23 campuses."

 

>>Price Of Stamps Goes Up

(Undated) -- It now costs a bit more to send letters in the mail. Over the weekend, the United States Postal Service increased the cost of a First-Class Forever U.S. Postage Stamp from the current 66 cents to 68 cents. The price of domestic postcard stamps also rose from 51 cents to 53 cents. And, stamps for international postcards are now up a nickel to one-dollar 55 cents.

 

>>"Mean Girls" Stays Atop Box Office

(Undated) -- The top six movies remain the same as last week as "Mean Girls" tops the weekend box office for the second week in a row. The teen musical comedy took in eleven-point-seven-million-dollars in its second week of release and was the only film to break the ten-million-mark over the weekend. "The Beekeeper," "Wonka," "Anyone But You," "Migration" and "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" rounded out the top six for the second-straight week. The top debut was I.S.S., which finished seventh with just over three-million-dollars.

AM Business Notebook

>>Consumer Sentiment Jumps 13% In January

(Ann Arbor, MI) -- Consumer sentiment is soaring for the second straight month. The University of Michigan's early reading for January jumped 13 percent to hit its highest level since July 2021. The survey noted increasing confidence among all age and income groups that inflation has turned a corner. Sentiment has now risen nearly 60 percent above its all-time low in June of 2022.

 

>>Existing Home Sales Slump In December

(Washington, DC) -- Sales of existing homes fell one percent in December to close out their worst year since 1995. The National Association of Realtors says sales declined to an annual rate of fewer than three-point-eight million units last month. The group's chief economist noted he expects sales to rebound this year as mortgage rates decline and more homes appeart on the market. The median price of a home sold during 2023 was just over 390-thousand dollars which is a record high..

 

>>Congress Passes Stopgap Bill, Heads To Biden

(Washington, DC) -- Congress is passing a stopgap funding bill to prevent a partial government shutdown. The short-term spending bill sent to the desk of President Biden will keep the government funded through March, buying lawmakers more time to craft longer-term spending bills.

 

>>L.A. Times Guild To Hold Walkout Protest

(Los Angeles, CA) -- The Los Angeles Times Guild is set to hold a walkout today. It comes in protest of what they are calling unfair labor practices and layoffs. The union says the paper is asking them to gut seniority protections for more layoff options. The union is hoping to have more say in the next executive director and to have a clear head count or salary reduction number. The L.A. Times is the second notable newspaper to have employees walkout after the Washington Post did so last month over similar issues.

 

>>Macy's Announces Layoffs, Closures

(New York, NY) -- Macy's is laying off over 23-hundred employees and closing five stores. The iconic retailer says it's deploying a new strategy "to meet the needs of an ever changing" marketplace, and had to make the difficult decision to reduce its workforce by about three-percent in an effort to become a more streamlined company. Macy's says it began notifying employees on Thursday that layoffs would begin next week. The stores that are closing are in California, Florida, Hawaii and Virginia.

 

>>Poll: Just Over Half Of Americans Thrived In 2023

(Washington, DC) -- A new poll shows just over half of Americans were "thriving" in 2023. A Gallup survey found that over 52-percent of Americans evaluated their lives positively enough last year to be thriving. That's a decline from previous years, where between 52 and 55-percent of Americans were shown to be thriving. The only years the amount of thriving Americans were lower was during the Great Recession, between 2008, and in 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

>>Costco, Sam's Club At Center Of Salmonella Outbreak

(Portland, OR) -- Cases of salmonella infections nationwide connected to charcuterie [[ shar-KOO-duh-ree ]] meats are on the rise. The CDC reports 47 cases have been confirmed in 22 states since they began tracking the outbreak earlier this month. There are two products involved. Fratelli Baretta brand Antipsato Gran Beretta sold at Costco and Busseto brand Charcuterie Sampler sold at Sam's Club. If you have those products you should throw them away and call your health care provider if you develop symptoms.

AM Business Notebook

 

>>White House Tackles Excessive Bank Overdraft Fees

(Washington, DC) -- The White House is tackling hidden junk fees. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing yesterday that the new rule would banish excessive overdraft fees. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposal would cut average overdraft fees by over half, saving families an average of 150-dollars a year. The Biden administration is promising not to allow banks to "rip off" Americans, according to Jean-Pierre. She touted Americans' satisfaction with the economy, citing an Axios poll that shows 62-percent of U.S. citizens are optimistic about their finances, and 85-percent believe their financial situation will improve this year.

 

>>Court Bans Apple Watch Imports In US

(New York, NY) -- Apple Watch imports in the United States are once again technically banned. A filing shows that a federal appeals court has denied Apple's motion to temporarily pause the ban while it appeals a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling. That ruling stopped Apple from importing the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches because they violate patents registered to a different company. But the tech giant has a workaround: it has approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to continue bringing in a redesigned version of the newest Apple Watches from overseas.

 

>>Former Meta COO Leaving Board

(Menlo Park, CA) -- Former Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will be leaving the company's board of directors. She posted on Facebook Wednesday that she will not be seeking re-election to the post in May. Sandberg joined Facebook, now Meta, back in 2008 after seven years at Google. >>Airbnb Creating Housing Council (Undated) -- Airbnb is creating a panel to help address the affordable housing crisis. The company announced Wednesday the formation of the Housing Council, which is made up of housing experts and chaired by the former mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The council will advise Airbnb on how the company can support initiatives that work to increase America's housing supply and drive down prices.

 

>>Apps For AI Generated Girlfriends Are Increasing

(New York, NY) -- It has been a week since the opening of OpenAI's GPT store and already users are breaking the rules and creating, "companions." A search for "girlfriend" on the new GPT store will populate the site's results bar with at least eight "girlfriend" AI chatbots. The company bans apps dedicated to fostering romantic companionship. In the US, seven of the 30 AI chatbot apps downloaded last year from the Apple or Google store were related to AI friends, girlfriends, or companions, according to data.ai. The proliferation of these apps comes as the US faces an epidemic of loneliness and isolation, with the Surgeon General calling for the need to strengthen social connections, and AI chatbots could be part of the solution.

AM Business Notebook

>>Retail Sales Rise In December

(Washington, DC) -- The Commerce Department reports retail sales soared in December. The latest government data released Wednesday showed retail sales jumped point-six-percent last month thanks to the Holiday shopping season. That number beat expectations of a point-four-percent increase. It also marked the biggest jump in three months. Year-over-year retail sales rose five-point-six-percent.

 

>>Congress Announces Tax Deal To Expand Child Tax Credit

(Washington, DC) -- Congress is announcing a bipartisan deal to expand the child tax credit and create a series of tax breaks for businesses. The deal is between Missouri Republican Jason Smith and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden and ends months of negotiating. It will enhance refundable child tax credits to try to provide relief to struggling families and those with multiple children. It'll also raise the tax credit's refundable cap and adjust it for inflation. In a statement, Smith said American families will benefit from this agreement that provides greater tax relief and creates jobs. Wyden said fifteen million kids from low-income families will now be better off because of this deal.

 

>>Boeing Stock Plunges After Critical Wall Street Report

(New York, NY) -- Boeing stock is taking a hit after a Wall Street report said an FAA audit "opens up a whole new can of worms." That comes after a door plug blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight on a Boeing 737 Max 9 earlier this month. Wells Fargo analysts have downgraded Boeing stock to Equal Weight from Overweight given the recent developments, saying "the odds of a clean audit are low." Boeing's stock dropped eight-percent at Tuesday's closing bell.

 

>>JetBlue, Spirit Airlines Merger Blocked

(Boston, MA) -- A federal judge is blocking a planned merger of JetBlue and Spirit Airlines. The Department of Justice sued last March to stop JetBlue's proposed three-point-eight-billion-dollar deal. It was the first time in more than two decades the federal government tried to block an airline merger. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland argued the merger would lead to higher fares and fewer choices for travelers. JetBlue claimed the merger would only create stronger competition for the four larger airlines and would make fares cheaper.

 

>>Liquor Delivery Company Dropped Uber

(Boston, MA) -- The liquor delivery service Drizly founded by two Boston College students over a decade ago is shutting down. Drizly was bought by Uber Technologies in 2021 for over a billion-dollars. It's now set to shutter the service at the end of March. Uber has decided to focus on their core strategy of allowing consumers to order almost everything through the single Uber Eats app. Drizly experienced a surge in business during the pandemic, but laid off around a hundred employees last year.

 

>>Supreme Court Denies To Review Apple And Epic Games Dispute

(Cupertino, CA) -- Apple could see a big hit to sales after the Supreme Court decided not to review a dispute between the tech giant and "Fortnite" publisher Epic Games. That leaves in place a lower court's decision that requires changes to certain rules in Apple's App Store. Epic Games filed an antitrust lawsuit in 2020 that accused Apple of being an illegal monopoly because it requires users to download apps only via its App Store and to buy digital content inside apps using its own system. Apple charges as much as a 30-percent commission for in-app purchases.

AM Business Notebook

>>Oxfam: World's 5 Richest Men Double Their Wealth Since 2020

(Undated) -- A new report says the world's five richest men have more than doubled their wealth since 2020. According to the non-profit Oxfam, the combined wealth of the elite group that includes Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and investor Warren Buffett jumped from 405-billion-dollars to nearly 870-billion in the past three years. In issuing the report, the charity called on governments to "reign in corporate power" to reduce the gap between the ultra-rich and the rest of society.

 

>>A.I. In The Workplace

(San Francisco, CA) -- Nearly 40-percent of jobs around the world could be affected by artificial intelligence. Business leaders around the world, including the International Monetary Fund, are warning of the troubling trend that they say will worsen inequality in the workplace. In a blog post yesterday, IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva noted the more devastating impact AI could have on advanced economies like the U.S. as white-collar workers are considered more at risk than manual laborers.

 

>>Used Electric Car Prices Coming Down

(Undated) -- Electric vehicles are getting a bit more affordable. That's thanks in large part to Hertz, the renal car company that's selling a lot of its EV inventory. That includes high-mileage Tesla Model 3s starting at around 20 grand. The Chevy Bolt EUV is also selling on the Hertz website starting at around 22-thousand-500 dollars. Hertz is selling about 20-thousand electric vehicles after the cost of maintenance proved to be more than expected.

 

>>Bill To Reestablish Skill Games In Virginia Passes First Committee Vote

(Richmond, VA) -- A bill that would allow the return of skill games at Virginia businesses has passed its first legislative hurdle. The Senate's Commerce and Labor Committee heard testimony on the bill yesterday, then advanced the measure in a 10--to-5 vote. The bill would normally head to the Senate's General Laws and Technology Committee, which oversees gaming and wagering bills. But the commerce panel decided instead to send the bill to the Finance and Appropriations Committee, which is headed by a co-sponsor of the skill games proposal. The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled late last year that slot machine-style skill games were a form of gambling and ordered business owners statewide to stop using them.

AM Business Notebook

>>54th WEF In Davos This Week

(Davos)  --  World leaders and top officials are set to gather this week in Davos, Switzerland for the 54th annual World Economic Forum.  The meeting, which will include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will address how to end the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.  The forum starts today and runs through Friday.

 

>>Citigroup To Cut 10% Of Its Workforce

(New York, NY)  --  Citigroup is cutting ten percent of its workforce.  The nation's third-largest bank said about 20-thousand employees will be let go over the "medium term" as part of a restructuring plan.  It made the announcement during a fourth-quarter earnings presentation.  Citigroup has about 200-thousand workers on the payroll. 

 

>>Researchers Warned Apple About Weaknesses In AirDrop

(Cupertino, CA)  --  Researchers say they warned Apple as early as 2019 about weaknesses in its AirDrop sharing function that Chinese authorities claim they used to track users. That's according to CNN.  The Chinese government targeted the tool in response to pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong using it. Benjamin Ismail, leader of a group that monitors Chinese internet censorship, said that Apple's response to the situation is "crucial." He urged the tech giant to acknowledge the claim and secure AirDrop.

 

>>"Mean Girls" Tops "Beekeeper" At Box Office

(Hollywood, CA)  --  A reboot of a popular 90s movie topped the weekend box office.  "Mean Girls" opened with an estimated 28-million-dollars to finish more than eleven-million-dollars ahead of the next biggest debut.  The thriller "The Beekeeper" placed second with 16-point-seven-million-dollars in its opening weekend.  "Wonka" dropped to third with eight-point-three-million-dollars, ending its two-week reign at the top.  "Night Swim," which opened in second place last week, fell all the way to seventh this week.

AM Business Notebook

>>Citigroup To Cut 10% Of Its Workforce

(New York, NY) -- Citigroup is cutting ten percent of its workforce. The nation's third-largest bank said about 20-thousand employees will be let go over the "medium term" as part of a restructuring plan. It made the announcement during a fourth-quarter earnings presentation. Citigroup has about 200-thousand workers on the payroll.

 

>>FAA Opens Investigation Into Boeing's Quality Control After Alaska Airlines Failure

(Washington, DC) -- The FAA is opening an investigation into Boeing's quality control. That comes after a door blew off an Alaska Airlines flight last week. The FAA said in a new statement that the door plug failure "should have never happened and it cannot happen again." The investigation will focus on whether the company failure to make sure its products adhered to approved designs.

 

>>NASA Slashes Jobs After Federal Budget Cuts

(Pasadena, CA) -- Federal budget cuts could force NASA to postpone some upcoming missions to space. The space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was hit hard, resulting in the layoff of 100 contractors last week. Less funds now pose a threat to NASA's ambitious Mars Sample Return mission, which is the first-ever effort to bring pieces of Mars to Earth. JPL officials say the MSR mission budget may be capped at 300-million dollars this year, which is just over a third of last year's budget.

 

>>IRS Announces Tax Dates

(Washington, DC) -- The IRS will begin accepting 2023 tax returns on January 29th, 2024. The tax agency said it is expecting over 128- million individual tax returns to be filed ahead of the April 15th deadline. This year, the IRS is rolling out new tools it says will make filing taxes easier. To give some taxpayers a head start on putting together their returns, the IRS Free File, which is available to anybody who earns less than 79-grand, is now available.

 

>>Microsoft Briefly Passes Apple As World's Most Valuable Company

(New York, NY) -- Microsoft briefly overtook Apple as the world's most valuable company on Thursday. Apple soon reclaimed its number-one position, where it's been since 2021 because of the iPhone. Shares in the company have been off to a weak start in 2024 while Microsoft shares have risen sharply, partly because of A.I. technology. Microsoft shares closed half-a-point higher yesterday, and it's value rose during trading making it worth over two-point-nine trillion dollars for a time.

 

>>Hertz Replaces 20,000 EVs With Gasoline Cars

(Estero, FL) -- Hertz is replacing 20-thousand of its electric vehicles with regular gasoline cars. The car rental company is backtracking after pushing into the EV market. Executives said electric vehicles are hurting Hertz financially, as collision and damage repairs can sometimes be about twice what it would have been with a combustion engine vehicle. That's what CEO Stephen Scherr said in an analyst call.

AM Business Notebook

>>Consumer Prices Rose Slightly More Than Expected In December

(Washington, DC) -- New federal data shows consumer prices went up slightly more than expected last month. The Labor Department reports the consumer price index increased point-three-percent in December. Compared to last year, prices are up three-point-four-percent. Most economists had expected readings of point-two-percent and three-point-two-percent. Shelter costs were responsible for much of the CPI increase, increased point-five-percent in December.

 

>>American CEOs: Country's National Debt Is Biggest Geopolitical Risk (Washington, DC) -- American CEOs say the country's rising national debt is the biggest geopolitical risk for 2024. That's according to The Conference Board's C-Suite Outlook 2024. The survey of CEOs and C-Suite executives also pointed to an increase in cyberattacks, Israel-Hamas war, higher energy prices and the war in Ukraine. The nation's debt reached a new milestone on December 29th, passing 34-trillion dollars.

 

>>Google Lays Off Hundreds In Google Assistant Division

(Mountain View, CA) -- Google is laying off hundreds of people working on its voice-activated Google Assistant software. The tech company owned by Alphabet said on Wednesday that it's also eliminating hundreds of jobs in Google's Devices and Services team. A Google spokesperson said the layoffs are a part of "organizational changes" that began several months ago "to become more efficient."

 

>>Midwest, Great Lakes To See Hot Housing Markets In 2024

(Buffalo, NY) -- The Midwest and Great Lakes regions will see hot housing markets this year. Zillow predicts that Buffalo, New York will be the "nation's hottest housing market in 2024." Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis join the city in the country's top five. The real estate marketplace released a report last week saying those regions will stand out strong "in a housing market still buffeted by low inventory and relatively high mortgage rates and prices."

AM Business Notebook

>>World Bank Has Gloomy Outlook For Global Economy

(Washington, DC) -- The World Bank says the global economy is slowing for the third straight year. In a new report, it projects global growth to dip to two-point-four percent from two-point-six in 2023. Growth is then expected to edge higher in 2025, but it will increase at a rate well below that of the 2010s. The bank's latest Global Economic Prospects report warns that escalating conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East could significantly impact energy prices and inflation along with economic growth.

 

>>Post Pandemic Rents Are Forcing A Third Of Generation Z To Live With Parents

(New York, NY) -- A third of Gen Z live with a parent or family member because they can't afford to rent or buy their own place. According to a new survey from Inuit Credit Karma, 31-percent of Gen Z-ers are living with parents after being hit particularly hard by high housing costs, elevated interest rates and stagnant wage growth. Renting isn't any better -- in 2022, 30-percent of the median income is now needed to pay the average rent for the first time. Last year, the typical first-time homeowner was 36 years old, according to the Association of Realtors. That's a record high, and a full decade older than the oldest Gen Zer.

 

>>X Announces Peer-To-Peer Payments Coming In 2024

(San Francisco, CA) -- The social media platform X will launch peer-to-peer payments this year. The Elon Musk-owned company made the announcement in a blog post Tuesday. X said the new feature will unlock more user utility and new opportunities for commerce. Musk has pushed for X to become an "everything app" since he bough the company for 44-billion dollars in 2022. X did not provide any further details on how the payment system will work or when it will become available.

 

>>NFL Offers Buyouts To Employees

(New York, NY) -- The NFL is offering voluntary buyouts to at least 200 employees. That's according to a memo obtained by CNBC. As the League gears up for the start of playoffs, it says it's being "increasingly challenged to be agile, responsible and strategic." The league has been thriving financially, hitting nearly 12-billion dollars in revenue in 2022. It reportedly sent the buyout memo to employees aged 50 and older.

 

>>Walmart Unveils New A.I. Search Tools

(Las Vegas, NV) -- Walmart is looking to artificial intelligence to help online shoppers. The retailer unveiled two new A.I.-powered search tools on Tuesday at the CES tech conference in Las Vegas. The tools are designed to help shoppers find products quicker and to automate the process of reordering frequently purchased items. Walmart says shoppers using the new search tools will be able to use terms such as "football watch party" to receive a curated list of products instead of searching for each item individually. The features are currently available to iOS users and will be rolled out on the website and on Android apps later this year.

 

>>Intel Shows Off Chip To Power Vehicle A.I. Features

(Las Vegas, NV) -- Intel is showing off a new chip designed to power artificial intelligence features in vehicles. The chip company showed off the tech this week at CES 2024, the annual consumer tech expo in Las Vegas. The chip, which is still a long ways out from hitting the road, could power A.I. features to make the driving experience more personal, allowing the vehicle to monitor the driver and passengers.

AM Business Notebook

>>Waymo Testing Freeway Rides

(Phoenix, AZ) -- An autonomous vehicle company is getting ready to put its foot further on the pedal. Waymo says it will start testing it's cars on freeways "in the coming weeks." It will be first tried out in Phoenix, Arizona. At the moment, employees of the company, so-called "Waymonauts," will be the only ones allowed to take the trips and provide feedback. Waymo called the test "especially important" as it expands its services to other cities. The company also serves San Francisco and Los Angeles, and most recently, Austin, Texas.

 

>>Automakers To Skip Super Bowl Advertising

(Detroit, MI) -- Detroit's automakers will not be airing ads during this year's Super Bowl game. A 30-second commercial for the broadcast will reportedly cost seven-million dollars. Officials with Stellantis say they are readjusting their marketing spending and recently announced they will not take part in the Chicago Auto Show. General Motors will not air commercials after focusing on electric vehicles in last year's broadcast. Ford has not run an ad during the Super Bowl for several years.

 

>>Tiger Leaves Nike After 27 Years

(Beaverton, OR) -- Tiger Woods is leaving Nike after a nearly 30-year partnership. In a social media post, the golf star thanked Nike founder Phil Knight for his passion and vision. Woods signed with Nike at the age of 20 when he turned professional. Nike acknowledged Tiger's contribution to golf in a social media post, saying he challenged his competition, stereotypes, conventions and the old school way of thinking. Tiger also confirmed there will be another chapter in his career, ending his post with "See you in LA" -- most likely referencing the Genesis Invitational scheduled for next month.

 

>>CA Official Wants Change In Tax Structure After Dodgers/Ohtani Deal

(Sacramento, CA) -- The L-A Dodgers 700-million-dollar deal with star pitcher Shohei Ohtani. [[ SHOW-hey oh-TAH-nee ]] is coming under scrutiny. The bulk of Ohtani's pay will be deferred at least ten years to a time when he will likely no longer be subject to California's tax laws. He could return to Japan and escape payment of California income taxes altogether. California State Controller Malia Cohen says the current tax system allows for these kinds of deferrals primarily to the wealthy and it creates an imbalance. She's asking Congress to take action to correct the imbalance and move toward a more-fair distribution of taxes.

 

>>AI Helping With Health

(Undated) -- Artificial intelligence, while many have questions about it, is aiding people with their health. According to the January Newsletter from The National Institutes of Health, researchers are looking at how AI can continue to improve healthcare. AI is already being used in medical imaging by searching through CT and MRI scans for health issues, like cancer and heart disease. Dr. Despina Kontos, an AI researcher at Columbia University says, "AI can look at images very closely, in a way that's much more detailed than we can do with the human eye." Chatbots are also becoming popular to find health information, and with a shortage in mental health care providers, may be able to fill in some gaps.

 

>>Thousands Of Massagers Recalled Over Fire, Burn Risk

(Undated) -- Thousands of massagers are being recalled due to a risk of burns and fire. The Homedics company says some of their Therapist Select Percussion Massagers can overheat while charging, making the devices dangerous to use. The recall applies to about 41-thousand units sold across the U.S. by retailers like Amazon, Macy's, JC Penny and Lowe's through November of last year. Devices made before 2023 are impacted. Owners can contact the Homedics company through their website to find more information on the recall and to get refund details.

 

>>A Look Back At The First iPhone

(San Francisco, CA) -- Back on this day in 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first generation iPhone at the Macworld 2007 convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Using a touch screen, the new device combined the features of Apple's iPod with a mobile phone, allowing users to field phone calls and play music and videos. It would be several more months before the game-changing phone officially went on sale in the United States in June of 2007, with a starting price of just under 500-dollars.

AM Business Notebook

>>Congressional Budget Agreement Reached To Avoid Gov't Shutdown

(Washington, DC) -- Congressional leaders are announcing a budget agreement that will keep the government funded through 2024. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson made a joint announcement of the nearly one-point-seven-trillion-dollar deal on Sunday. The spending agreement will reportedly keep a number of domestic and social programs funded despite GOP calls for extreme budget cuts. News of the breakthrough comes as both the House and Senate are set to return from holiday break this week.

 

>>U.S. Economy Added 216-Thousand Jobs In December

(Undated) -- The final snapshot of the 2023 labor market is showing hot hiring. On Friday, the Labor Department said 216-thousand jobs were added to the U.S. economy last month, which is well-above the roughly 170-thousand jobs economists expected. The unemployment rate held at three-point-seven-percent in December. Friday's jobs report also showed hiring increased in sectors including government, health care and construction, but jobs were shed in transportation and warehousing.

 

>>CES Trade Show Kicks Off This Week

(Las Vegas, NV) -- The annual CES trade show kicks off this week in Las Vegas. Ahead of tomorrow's formal open, NVIDIA is scheduled to hold a press conference today that promises to offer details on a broad spectrum of "cutting-edge technologies." The tech company says that will include 'the latest generative AI breakthroughs," from robotics to gaming.

 

>>New Law Requires CA Bars, Nightclubs To Offer Roofie Tests

(Sacramento, CA) -- A new law aimed at making a night on the town less stressful for women in California goes into effect later this year. The law requires bars and nightclubs in the Golden State to offer "roofie" tests to bar patrons to see if their drink has been spiked. The tests come with a strip or straw that detects common date-rape drugs like ketamine or GHB. The goal is to protect bar patrons from potential sexual assaults. Bars and nightclubs have until July to start offering the kits. It's up to each business to decide if they want to charge customers for the kits.

 

>>Gas Prices Basically Unchanged

(Heathrow, FL) -- Gas prices are unchanged from where they were yesterday. Triple-A puts today's national average at three dollars and seven cents. California drivers continue to see the highest prices at four-67 on average. Washington and Hawaii are the only other states with prices above four bucks. Oklahoma boasts the lowest prices at the pump, with drivers shelling out two-57 a gallon, down a penny from Sunday.

 

>>"Wonka" Tops Box Office Again

(Hollywood, CA) -- Movie-goers apparently prefer swimming in chocolate over swimming at night. "Wonka" edged the suspense film "Night Swim" to claim the top spot at the box office for the second-straight week and third time in its four weeks of release. "Wonka" took in an estimated 14-point-four-million-dollars, while "Night Swim" opened with 12-million-dollars. "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" and "Migration" both topped the ten-million-dollar mark and each dropped a spot to third and fourth respectively. "Anyone But You" came within 500-thousand-dollars of joining the ten-million-dollar club and stayed in fifth place.

AM Business Notebook

>>Gresham Microchip

(Gresham, OR) -- The U-S Department of Commerce has awarded 72-million dollars to Microchip, to expand its Gresham facility.Funding comes from the CHIPS and Science Act. Microchip expects to double its capacity and create 600 new jobs in Oregon. The company makes semiconductor chips that power cars, defense technology and other products. 

 

>>NCAA, ESPN Sign $920-Million Media Deal

(Undated) -- ESPN and the NCAA have signed a new 920-million dollar media rights deal. The eight-year contract is worth more than 115-million dollars a year and is close to three times the annual value of the current deal. It goes into effect on September 1st and will cover rights to 40 NCAA championships, including men's and women's basketball. The NCAA said the dramatic increase in the value of media rights will allow it to explore what it called revenue distribution units for the women's basketball tournament. During last season's women's tournament, a number of players posted on social media that their facilities were dramatically inferior to the men's facilities.

 

>>Shoppers Set Record Shopping Numbers This Holiday Season

(New York, NY) -- This holiday season set a new online shopping record. Americans spend 222-billion dollars shopping from November 1st through the end of 2023. That's nearly a five-percent increase from the previous holiday season, according to an Adobe Analytics report. Adobe credits deep discounts and Buy Now, Pay Later options like Klarna and AfterPay. The report shows that Americans are still spending at record amounts, despite saying they're not happy with the economy.

 

>>Xerox Cutting 15 Percent Of Workforce

(Norwalk, CT) -- Xerox is cutting 15 percent of its global workforce. The Connecticut-based company announced the cuts this week as part of a restructuring. Xerox employs around 250 people in Connecticut, including 90 at its corporate headquarters in Norwalk.

 

>>TGI Fridays Abruptly Closes 36 "Underperforming" Restaurants

(New York, NY) -- TGI Fridays is abruptly closing 36 underperforming restaurants. The nearly 60-year-old restaurant chain said the move is part of the company's "ongoing growth strategy." Prior to the closings, there were about 270 locations in the U.S.

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve Likely Over With Rate Hikes

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve is likely done with rate hikes for now. Members of a key Fed committee predicted rate cuts in 2024, but pointed out more uncertainty than usual for its next move. That's according to new meeting minutes from December. After its last meeting of 2023, the panel voted to hold interest rates at the highest level in more than two decades. But officials including Fed chair Jerome Powell said the economy is "likely at or near the peak rate."

 

>>Labor Board Accuses SpaceX Of Unlawful Firings

(Hawthorne, CA) -- SpaceX is accused of firing eight employees for circulating a letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk. The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday filed a complaint against the aerospace company claiming the firings violated the law. The 2022 letter was about sexually suggestive tweets Musk had made, along with the argument Musk's statements didn't mesh with the company's policies on diversity and misconduct. One of the fired employees says the letter wasn't written out of malice but out of care for the company's mission and fellow employees.

 

>>Ford Recalls 112-Thousand F-150 Pickup Trucks

(Washington, DC) -- Ford is recalling more than 112-thousand pickup trucks over concerns of roll aways. A letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration addressed to Ford's assistant director acknowledges the F-150 recall. It says "Damaged axle hub splines can result in a vehicle roll away when the vehicle is in park without the parking brake applied, or cause a loss of drive power," increasing the risk of a crash.

 

>>GM Sales Up

(Detroit, MI) -- General Motors is reporting a 14-percent increase in sales for 2023. The automaker released the figures Wednesday showing the best sales results for the company since 2019. Sales in the Chevrolet division were up by 13-percent for the year while Buick sales jumped by 61-percent. Cadillac and GMC sales were nine-percent higher compared to 2022. Electric vehicles sales were 93-percent higher year over year which includes sales of the BrightDrop electric delivery vans. Officials say they will continue to focus on increasing production of EV's in 2024.

 

>>Lululemon Founder Slams Diversity Again

(New York, NY) -- The founder of Lululemon is slamming diversity again. Chip Wilson left the company in 2013 after saying Lululemon's yoga pants "just don't actually work" for some women's bodies. This week, Wilson criticized Lululemon for its recent efforts to promote diversity, and told "Forbes" that they're trying to become everything to everybody. Wilson said, "the definition of a brand is that you're not everything to everybody," adding that it has to be clear that you don't want "certain customers coming in." A spokesperson for Lululemon says Wilson's comments do not reflect the company's views or beliefs.

AM Business Notebook

>>U.S. Debt Hits $34 Trillion

(Washington, DC) -- The U.S. national debt has topped 34-trillion dollars for the first time in history. New data from the Treasury Department showed the national debt reached a historic high on Friday afternoon. That figure is expected to nearly double in size over the next 30 years.

 

>>Fidelity Marks Down Valuation Of X By More Than 70%

(Boston, MA) -- Fidelity is marking down the value of X shares by over 70-percent since Elon Musk's takeover. The investment firm decreased its valuation of X by more than ten-percent just in November, according to a recent filing. The social media company faced multiple scandals at the end of 2023, including Elon Musk appearing to endorse a post promoting an antisemitic conspiracy. That led to major companies pulling ad money from the platform.

 

>>SpaceX First Launch Of 2024

(Vandenberg SFB, CA) -- SpaceX is marking its first launch of what promises to be a busy year. A Falcon 9 rocket was launched Tuesday night from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base, sending 21 Starlink satellites into orbit. But not all of the satellites were alike. The launch featured six first-of-their-kind satellites with direct-to-cell capabilities. Calling the DTC move a game-changer, SpaceX said this will allow mobile network operators around the world to provide "seamless global access to texting, calling and browsing."

 

>>Gas Prices Down Again

(Heathrow, FL) -- Gas prices are falling in this first week of the new year. Triple-A reports today's national average price for regular is three-09 a gallon. That's one cent lower than Tuesday's average, three cents lower than a week ago, and 15 cents lower than a month ago. The low price leader is Texas, where the statewide average is down a penny, to two-64 a gallon. California again has the nation's most expensive gas, with a state average of four-71 a gallon.

 

>>Rivian Stock Down 10% On Declining Q4 Deliveries

(Irvine, CA) -- Shares in electric vehicle maker Rivian fell more than ten-percent on the first day of trading in 2024. Rivian took a hit Tuesday after the company reported higher production but fewer deliveries in the fourth quarter. Rivian said it produced more than 17-thousand-500 vehicles at its plant in Normal, Illinois from October through December, over a thousand more than during the third quarter. But fourth quarter deliveries fell to just under 14-thousand, a drop of more than ten-percent from the third quarter. Rivian's stock closed at 21-10 per share yesterday, down more than ten-percent from Friday's close.

AM Business Notebook

>>Minimum Wage Hikes In 22 States

(Undated) -- Pay raises are here for many in the new year. The minimum wage is going up in 22 states, where nearly 10 million people will see their wages go up. On top of that, January 1st saw over three dozen cities and counties upping their minimum wages above state levels. Workers in California, New York and Hawaii account for 51 percent of those getting a bump in pay.

 

>>Sen. Graham: NY In For "Hell Of A Fight" Over Chick-fil-A

(Undated) -- Senator Lindsey Graham is stepping up his campaign against a bill in the New York Legislature that would require new restaurants at highway rest stops to be open seven days a week. The South Carolina Republican is focusing his attack on the effect the bill would have on Chick-fil-A. The fast food chain has a longstanding policy of closing on Sundays, in observance of the Christian sabbath, so its employees can, as company says, "worship if they choose." In a Thursday Fox & Friends interview and later post on X, Graham said "to the people in New York who are pushing this: You're in for one hell of a fight." Graham continued to threaten to introduce a bill to withhold federal funds from cities that require Chick-fil-A to be open on Sundays.

 

>>Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, WellNow Fail To Reach Deal

(Albany, NY) -- Customers of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will be paying more out of pocket if they need treatment at a WellNow urgent care center. Both companies failed to strike a deal before yesterday's deadline, meaning individuals with Excellus insurance must pay a walk-in fee of over 160-dollars at a WellNow. They also have to cover all out-of-network fees for any services provided. Excellus and WellNow are involved in a dispute over reimbursement rates for care. >>Winning Powerball Ticket Worth Estimated $842 Million Sold In Michigan (Undated) -- Some lucky winner, or winners, will be starting off the new year hundreds of millions of dollars richer after Monday's Powerball drawing. A single winning ticket was sold in Michigan worth an estimated 842 million dollars. Should they take the cash option, that works out to just over 425 million bucks.

 

>>BlendJet Recalls Portable Blenders

(Washington, DC) -- A popular portable blender poses a danger to customers, according to statements from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the company. BlendJet is voluntarily recalling nearly five-million of its BlendJet2 blenders, which were sold at Amazon, Costco, Target and Walmart. The products that are currently for sale are not impacted by the recall, the company says. The recall notice says earlier versions risk the blender overheating or blades breaking off. It calls for anyone using them to immediately stop.

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