Business News Archives for 2024-02

AM Business Notebook

>>Judge Rejects Trump Request To Stay Penalties In Civil Fraud Case

(New York, NY)  --  A New York judge is denying Donald Trump's request to pause the enforcement of penalties in his civil fraud case while he appeals the judgment.  The president's request to stay the enforcement of the more than 450-million-dollars in penalties was rejected yesterday.  Trump's legal team had offered to post a 100-million dollar bond while the appeals process plays out, writing in court filings that the judgment made it impossible to cover the full amount.  Trump was found liable for fraudulently inflating his net worth on years of financial statements. 

 

>>Musk Says Tesla Roadster Out Next Year

(Austin, TX)  --  Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the electric automaker plans to start shipping its Roadster sports car next year.  In a series of posts on X Wednesday, Musk said the design was a collaboration between Tesla and his rocket company SpaceX.  Musk also said the luxury vehicle will be capable of going from zero to 60 in less than a second.

 

>>FAA Gives Boeing 90 Days To Fix Critical Quality And Safety Issues

(Washington, DC)  --  The FAA is giving Boeing 90 days to fix its quality and safety issues.  FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker and Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun reportedly had a day-long meeting on Wednesday about the deadline. An FAA-commissioned investigation that took a year found a "disconnect" between the company's executives and employees on safety and added that workers worry about reassignment or restricted career growth for reporting safety issues. The FAA is auditing Boeing's production line after a door plug blew open mid-flight.

 

>>Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jeep Grand Cherokees Recalled  

(Undated)  --  Over 338-thousand Jeep Grand Cherokees are being recalled because of a steering wheel issue.  Chrysler says the issue could cause the steering wheel to fall outward and make drivers lose control of the vehicle.  The recall includes 2021-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L and 2022-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles.  Chrysler says it's not aware of any accidents potentially related to the recall.

 

>>Teamsters Reach Deal With Anheuser-Busch To Avoid Strike

(St. Louis, MO)  --  Anheuser-Busch and the Teamsters Union have reached a deal to avoid a company-wide strike.  The Budweiser brewer and union leaders each announced the tentative five-year agreement on Wednesday.  The union said the deal will raise pay "significantly," while also improving health care and retirement benefits, and provide more job security. The announcement comes after 99-percent of the workers across 12 breweries agreed to strike if a deal wasn't reached by today.  


 

AM Business Notebook

>>Report: Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

(Cupertino, CA) -- Apple is canceling its electric car project. That's according to Bloomberg, which cited people with knowledge of the matter. The outlet reported the decision to end the project was disclosed internally Tuesday to the almost two-thousand employees working on the project. Apple had been working on the electric car project for a decade. Bloomberg says executives told project workers that many of them will be moved to the company's artificial intelligence division.

 

>>Home Prices In U.S. Hit All-Time High At End Of Last Year

(Washington, DC) -- New data shows home prices in the U.S. hit an all-time high in December. According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index, prices in December were up a fifth of a percent from the month before. Prices were five-and-a-half-percent higher that month compared to December 2022. That's up from a five-percent annual gain in November. Half of the 20 metro markets beat previous price records. >>Netflix Expected To Hike Prices Again In 2024 (New York, NY) -- Netflix may raise prices this year. That's according to analysts at UBS Securities. Analysts wrote in a research note that they expect to see a price hike from the streaming giant. That, along with more revenue from its ad-supported tier and more subscribers, would push its total revenue growth to 15-percent. That estimate is compared to just seven-percent growth in 2023.

 

>>Family Dollar To Pay Millions After Warehouse Rat Infestation

(West Memphis, AR) -- Family Dollar Stores will pay a 40-million dollar fine after pleading guilty to unsanitary conditions in a "rodent-infested warehouse." The FDA in February 2022 reported finding over one-thousand rats inside the West Memphis, Arkansas warehouse which caused a recall of products from over 400-stores. The fine is part of a plea deal and is the largest monetary criminal penalty ever given in a food safety case. Family Dollar must now meet safety standards for the next three years.

 

>>Macy's To Close 150 Stores By 2026

(New York, NY) -- Macy's plans to close 150 stores by 2026. CEO Tony Spring made the announcement Tuesday, saying Macy's is entering a "bold new chapter." Fifty stores will shutter by the end of this year as the company changes its focus to keep up with consumers' changing shopping habits. Macy's will now look more toward its Bloomingdale's and Bluemercury luxury brands with plans to open smaller versions of those stores. The iconic department store chain that's been around for more than 150 years has closed almost 300 stores since its stock price hit its peak price in 2015.

 

>>Expedia Lays Off 1,500 Employees

(New York, NY) -- Expedia is laying off about 15-hundred employees as part of an "organizational and technological transformation." The online travel agency's cuts add up to close to nine-percent of its over 17-thousand employees. They come as the post-pandemic travel boom comes to a cool down and changes in the company, including a new CEO. According to a regulatory filing, Expedia says the cuts will amount to an 80-to-100-million-dollar charge in severance and compensation benefits.

 

>>Sony To Layoff 900 PlayStation Division Workers

(Tokyo) -- Pink slips are flying at Sony Interactive Entertainment. The company said today it plans to layoff about 900 workers in its Playstation unit which is about eight percent of its global workforce. Sony is the latest technology company to announce cuts. In an email to employees, unit President and CEO Jim Ryan said it's become clear changes were needed to continue to grow the company.

 

>>Best And Worst States For Women 2024

(New York, NY) -- A new survey is finding where women in the U.S. can find the best opportunities. WalletHub compared the 50 states and Washington, D.C. across 25 key indicators of living standards for women including median earnings for female workers, to women's health care, to the female homicide rate. The top performing states were generally in the northeast with Massachusetts taking the top spot, followed by D.C, Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Delaware. The worst states for women according to the survey are Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and West Virginia.

AM Business Notebook

>>Best And Worst States For Women 2024

(New York, NY)  --  A new survey is finding where women in the U.S. can find the best opportunities.  WalletHub compared the 50 states and Washington, D.C. across 25 key indicators of living standards for women including median earnings for female workers, to women's health care, to the female homicide rate.  The top performing states were generally in the northeast with Massachusetts taking the top spot, followed by D.C, Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Delaware.  The worst states for women according to the survey are Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and West Virginia.

 

>>SCOTUS Appears Divided On 1st Amendment Social Media Cases

(Washington, DC)  --  The Supreme Court appears to be divided after hearing arguments in cases involving how social media companies handle online content.  The court is examining Republican-backed laws in Texas and Florida that were put in place over claims TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and others dislike conservative speech.  The laws were enacted in 2021 after the companies banned former President Trump from their platforms.  Some of the justices expressed concerned the laws could be cover other platforms like Uber, Google and Amazon Web Services.  The social media companies have compared themselves to newspapers who can't be told which information to publish.  But supporters of the new laws argue the companies are like telephone operators since they are transmitting content created by others, not themselves.

 

>>Trump Appeals Verdict In Civil Fraud Case

(Washington, DC)  --  Donald Trump is appealing the verdict in his New York civil fraud case.  Trump's legal team filed a notice of appeal of the judgement finding him liable for fraudulently inflating his net worth on financial statements.  The judge in the case recently ordered Trump to pay more than 450-million in fines and barred the former President for three years from running a business in New York.  Trump has denied any wrongdoing and says the case is politically motivated. 

 

>>Amazon Joins Dow Replacing Walgreens

(New York, NY)  --  Amazon is officially joining the Dow Jones Industrial Average this morning.  The e-commerce giant is replacing Walgreens Boost Alliance in the 30-stock index.  Analysts say the addition of Amazon will increase the Dow's exposure to tech and consumer retail business areas. 

 

>>FTC Sues To Block Merger Deal With Kroger And Albertsons

(Washington, DC)  --  The merger deal between Kroger and Albertsons is in jeopardy after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the deal.  The FTC alleges the deal, which would be the largest supermarket merger in U.S. history, would create higher prices for consumers.  The deal was announced in 2022 and looked to combine the fifth and tenth largest retailers in the country.  In a statement, the FTC said the merger would eliminate competition in the grocery industry and lead to store closures and job losses.

 

>>Most Popular Bill In America: The Hundred Dollar 

(New York, NY)  --  The number of hundred-dollar bills has more than doubled between 2012 and 2022, which is faster growth than any other denomination.  According to Federal Reserve data, 60-percent of all payments are made with debit or credit cards, despite there being more 100-dollar bills in circulations than there are one-dollar bills.  One reason is they enter circulation far quicker than they leave.  Hundreds can last over a decade longer than ones-and-fives, partly because people are more likely to hold than spend them.  Research shows people are less willing to purchase items when they are given a 100-dollar bill compared with five twenties.  Economists have also called for slowing down the printing of hundreds, due to their use in illicit activity.

AM Business Notebook

>>AT&T To Provide $5 Credit Following Network Outage

(Undated)  --  AT&T is going to provide customers affected by last week's network outage a five-dollar credit.  In a statement on its website, the cellular provider said that customers will receive it within two billing cycles.  AT&T says a software update is to blame. The service disruption started early Thursday, and was a major headache for many, with phone services limited.  GPS maps failed and some 9-1-1 calls did not go through.  AT&T serves more than 100 million customers, according to the company's website.

 

>>Navy Federal Credit Union Accused of Racial Discrimination

(Alexandria, VA)  --  The Navy Federal Credit Union has been accused of using racially motivated lending practices.  The world's largest credit union has been named in a class-action lawsuit claiming they approved white mortgage applications at a higher rate than Black and Latino applicants.  The credit union has been under fire before for its lending practices, most recently in December.  Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim Navy Federal denied mortgage applications because of race.  One of the attorneys in the lawsuit is nationally recognized civil rights attorney Ben Crump.  Navy Federal has released a statement standing by their mortgage loan practices and say they look forward to responding to claims in court. 

 

>>Lunar Lander Tips Sideways, Still "Alive And Well"

(Houston, TX)  --  The spacecraft that touched down on the moon last week is "alive and well" after tipping over onto its side.  Houston-based Intuitive Machines guided its Odysseus lander onto the moon, marking the first touchdown by a U.S.-built spacecraft since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.  The company says all indications are that the lander is "stable" and at the intended landing site near the moon's South Pole.  Shares in the company nearly doubled on word of its successful landing only to tumble around 30-percent in a late-day sell-off on Friday after word came out of the slight mishap.  

 

>>Marley Biopic Remains Atop Box Office

(Hollywood, CA)  --  The Bob Marley biopic tops the box office for the second week in a row.  "Bob Marley: One Love" took in an estimated 13-point-five-million-dollars in its second week to edge out a Japanese anime film.  "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba -- To the Hashira Training" opened in second place with nearly 11-point-six-million-dollars, about a million-dollars shy of the top weekend opening for an anime movie.  The record is held by last December's "Boy and the Heron," which earned 12-point-eight-million-dollars in its opening weekend.  "Ordinary Angels" opened in third place with six-point-five-million-dollars.

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Agencies Looking Into Nationwide Service Outage At AT&T

(New York, NY)  --  AT&T says it's wireless network has been restored after a widespread service outage impacted thousands of customers. AT&T is blaming the outage on a software error when it upgraded its network, and not a cyber attack.  While Verizon and T-Mobile customers also flagged service issues, those companies said that was most likely due to problems contacting customers on AT&T's network.   AT&T is the third-largest US retail wireless carrier, with about 87-million subscribers. ATT was trading down two-and-half percent following the outage. 

 

>>Google Pauses Gemini Image Generator After Delivering Inaccurate Historical Photos

 

(Mountain View, CA)  --  Google is putting its Gemini AI image generator on hold after it produced what the company calls "inaccurate historical images." Users complained about instances like Gemini returning requests for images of the founding fathers as people of color.  Other images included a female Catholic pope, and Black Vikings.  The tech giant said it's working on improving the depictions immediately.  Google added an updated version of the image generator will be released soon.

 

>>Pharmacies Affected By Hack

(Nashville, TN)  --  Several pharmacies across the country have been seeing disruptions after a hack targeted Change Healthcare, a division of UnitedHealth.  The hack was discovered Wednesday and the company immediately disconnected its systems to prevent further damage.  In some cases the disruption has made pharmacies unable to process insurance claims.  UnitedHealth says it's working with security experts and law enforcement but can't say how long the problem will persist.

 

>>Cash App Founder's Alleged Killer Back In Court

(San Francisco, CA)  --  Defense attorneys for the man accused of murdering Cash App founder Bob Lee say they haven't been given all the evidence in the case.  Nima Momeni was back in a San Francisco courtroom Thursday where his lawyers said they're concerned they haven't gotten all the evidence from Lee's two cell phones.  Momeni allegedly stabbed Lee to death last year over a dispute about Lee's relationship with Momeni's sister.  The defense plans to request a change of venue next month when a trial date is expected to be set.

 

>>Study: Airlines Rake In Billions From Baggage Fees

(Shorewood, WI)  --  A new study says the top 20 airlines made over 30 billion dollars from baggage fees last year.  The new report by the IdeaWorks consulting firm says the top airlines around the world raked in billions from fees for carry-on bags, price hikes for checked luggage, and fines for overweight suitcases.  The study says the amount was up from 29-billion dollars in 2022, and accounted for about four-percent of global airline revenue last year.

 

>>Mortgage Rates Rise For Third Week In Row

(Washington, DC)  --  Mortgage rates are up again for the third week in a row. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged six-point-nine percent this week, up from under six-point-eight last week, according to data from Freddie Mac. That's compared to six-point-five percent a year ago. As rates inch closer to seven, they're still down from last year's nearly seven-point-eight percent high in October.   

 

>>Vice Media To Cut Hundreds Of Jobs

(Brooklyn, NY)  --  Vice Media Group is planning to lay off hundreds of employees.  The digital media pioneer will also stop publishing on its flagship news website, with Vice CEO Bruce Dixon saying in a memo Thursday that it was "no longer cost-effective" to distribute media the way they previously did.  He added that Vice would be looking to partner with "established media companies" to distribute content.  Vice burst onto the scene in the early 2010s, including a news website, entertainment studio, HBO series and cable TV channel.

 

>>Rivian To Cut Salaried Jobs

(Social Circle, GA) -- Electric vehicle maker Rivian says it will lay off about ten-percent of its salaried workers. The EV maker cites flat fourth quarter revenue with one-point-three-billion in earnings. The company's net loss for the fourth quarter was one-point-six-billion, marking its highest quarterly loss in 2023. 
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Thousands Across U.S. Report AT&T Outages

(New York, NY)  --  Phone users across the U.S. are reporting problems with AT&T.  Downdetector.com is showing a spike in AT&T cellular service outages in the past hour, with nearly 33-thousand customers reporting no service.  The cities experiencing the most outages include Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Honolulu.  There's been no comment on the outages from AT&T. 

 

>>Biden Highlights Latest Round Of Student Debt Relief 

(Culver City, CA)  --  The Biden administration is cancelling one-point-two billion dollars in student loan debt for more than 150-thousand borrowers.  While delivering remarks in California on Wednesday, the president said student loan payments have become too burdensome for millions of Americans.  The move is the administration's latest effort at student debt relief after the Supreme Court blocked Biden's broader forgiveness plan last year.  The White House has since used smaller programs to forgive debt for specific groups.  The most recent relief will go to borrowers who have been in repayment for a decade or longer and originally took out 12-thousand dollars or less. 

 

>>Boeing Replaces Head Of 737 Max Program

(Renton, WA)  --  Boeing is replacing the head of its 737 Max program.  The company announced Wednesday that Ed Clark is leaving Boeing after nearly two decades.  The 737-9 Max jet has been under scrutiny since a door plug blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight last month.  The FAA grounded all 737-9 Max planes following the incident.  In response, Boeing has said it is revamping its quality control procedures.

 

>>Health Care Costs Lead Financial Worries 

(Undated)  --  Health care costs rank high among U.S. adults' financial concerns.  That's according to a recent KFF poll, which found that unexpected medical bills and the cost of health care services top the list of expenses that adults worry about affording.  The poll also found that voters who struggle with monthly bills are more likely to say it's "very important" for presidential candidates to talk about health care and economic-related issues.  This includes issues like the affordability of health care, the future of Medicaid and prescription drug costs. 

 

>>Ford Reveals Price Cuts On Mustang Mach-E

(Dearborn, MI)  --  The price of the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E has been reduced by the automaker.  The Dearborn-based automaker announced the reductions after the vehicle lost eligibility for the federal government's tax credit.  The Select rear wheel drive model is being reduced by 31-hundred dollars while the top of the line GT performance sedan will be cut by 76-hundred dollars.  The largest reduction is for the Premium Extended range model which is now 81-hundred dollars less.   The vehicles lost the federal credit due to changes in the Inflation Reduction Act.

 

>>Amazon To Be Added To Dow Jones Industrial Average

(Seattle, WA)  --  Amazon will be added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replacing Walgreens Boots Alliance.  S&P Dow Jones Indices says the change will be effective next week.  Shares of the online retail giant rose one-point-three-percent in extended trade after the announcement, while Walgreens fell three-percent.  Adding Amazon will increase consumer retail exposure. 

 

>>NY Tops In Sports Betting Revenue

(New York, NY)  --  New York is top of the list when it comes to sports betting revenue in the country.  The American Gaming Association says New York took in nearly one-point-seven-billion-dollars last year, while New Jersey came in second place with about one-billion-dollars.  Sports betting was legalized in New York state ten years ago and it was only in 2002 that it fully launched online betting.  When it comes to casino gambling, the Las Vegas strip is king, raking in nearly nine-billion-dollars, while Atlantic City came in at five-point-77-billion dollars.

AM Business Notebook

>>American Airlines Raising Bag Fees

(Fort Worth, TX)  --  American Airlines is raising the fee for checking a bag by five dollars.  A first bag for domestic flights will now cost 35 bucks if the flight is booked online or 40 dollars at the airport.  The airline says the cost of fuel is a big factor behind the increase.

 

>>Elon Musk Updates Status Of First Neuralink Brain Implant Patient 

(San Francisco, CA)  --  Neuralink's first brain implant patient can control a computer mouse simply by thinking.  That's the claim the company's founder, Elon Musk, made in an X Spaces event on Monday.  Musk says the patient "seems to have made a full recovery."  The neurotechnology company aims to eventually allow people with paralysis to regain motor function and Musk has said he hopes the implants could also help people with diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

 

>>Racial Gap In Home Ownership Is Growing

(Undated)  --  The racial gap in home ownership is growing in America.  A new report from the National Association of Realtors shows the gap between black and white home ownership has grown from 27 to 28-percent since 2012.  Black American home ownership did see a point-one-percent uptick from 2021 to 2022 but was still under 45-percent.  Experts place blame on the housing market, student loan debt, and a higher rate of refusal when applying for loans. 

 

>>Stanley Faces Lawsuit 

(Seattle, WA)  --  Stanley may be fueling the cup craze, but the company is facing legal troubles.  A new class action lawsuit claims the company did not disclose the use or presence of lead in its products.  The suit was filed earlier this month by Seattle Law Firm Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC.  Several class action complains are listed in the suit including breach of contract and express warranties and more.  On Stanley's website, the company writes it is transparent about its use of lead and describes how its products are still deemed safe.  

 

>>Walmart Buys TV Maker Vizio

(Bentonville, AR)  --  Walmart is buying TV maker Vizio.  The retail giant announced on Tuesday that it purchased the TV brand for two-point-three-billion-dollars.  Walmart said it believes it can add revenue by offering brands the chance to advertise on Vizio TVs.   Vizio's operating system SmartCast has over 18-million-active accounts..
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Coming Up In The Business Week Ahead

(Undated) -- The opening bell rings this morning on Wall Street, kicking off a holiday-shortened trading week. Investors today will be keeping an eye on a couple of noteworthy earnings reports: Walmart and Home Depot. Wednesday brings results from Nvidia and Rivian Automotive, along with the release of the Fed's January meeting minutes.

 

>>Capital One To Acquire Discover Financial Services

(Undated) -- Capital One Financial is set to acquire Discover Financial Services in a massive deal. The acquisition is set for over 35-billion dollars, all-stock. Discover shareholders will get a little over one Capital One share for each Discover share, with the deal expected to close in late 2024. Capital One reportedly plans to keep the Discover brand.

 

>>Taylor Swift Boosts Lyft Bottom Line

(San Francisco, CA) -- Lyft CEO David Risher says the rideshare company's bottom line was boosted thanks to the Taylor Swift Eras Tour. Traffic to and from stadiums and hotels was significantly up when the popstar was in town, anywhere from 25 to 60 percent. Risher also told Yahoo Finance that Swifties tend to tip three times higher than average.

 

>>California Faculty Association Approves A Tentative Agreement With The CSU

(Santa Monica, CA) -- A majority of California Faculty Association members have approved a tentative agreement that settles issues from the recent California State University strikes. The agreement provides salary increases, workload relief, and addresses gender and racial inequities, among other things. CFA President Charles Toombs said the union is looking forward to continuing their "advocacy for an equitable CSU." In a statement, the university says it is pleased with the results of the CFA's ratification vote. Once CSU Trustees approve the agreement, its terms and conditions will take effect. The CFA represents more than 29-thousand faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system.

 

>>British People Ghosting Potential Employers

(Undated) -- A new survey of people in the United Kingdom finds that 75 percent of workers have ignored a potential employer in the past year. Gen Z has the highest rate of ghosting prospective jobs, with 9 out of every 10 admitting to skipping an interview. Nearly the same amount have secured the job, only to not show up on the first day. It can go both ways: nearly a quarter of workers say they've been given a verbal job offer only for the company to never contact them again.

 

>>UNH Workers Rally For Fair Contract

(West Haven, CT) -- Workers at the University of New Haven are calling for a new contract that provides them with better pay. The workers rallied around the West Haven campus yesterday to bring attention to the issue. The union representing the UNH employees have been negotiating with the college administration since last summer, and their demands have not been met. Union officials say they do not want to consider a strike, but it may be on the table if no progress is made by their next meeting in March.

AM Business Notebook

>>Consumer Sentiment Remains Strong In February

(Ann Arbor, MI)  --  Consumer sentiment remains strong for a third straight month.  The University of Michigan's early reading for February rose slightly after posting large gains the past two months.  The survey noted increasing confidence about the economy and slowing inflation.  Consumer sentiment is currently about 30 percent above November 2023 and just six-percent below its historical average.

 

>>Producer Price Index Rises In January 

(Washington , DC)  --  The producer price index rose more than expected in January.  The Labor Department reported wholesale prices increased three-tenths of a percent after a slight decline in December.  Economists say the spike complicates the inflation picture.  The PPI measures the prices producers pay for goods and services.

 

>>Verdict Expected Today In Trump's NY Fraud Trial

(New York, NY)  --  A verdict in former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial is expected today.  The New York judge overseeing the case has already found Trump did engage in fraud, and must now decide what penalties he and his company should pay.  State Attorney General Letitia James is seeking 370-million dollars and a ban on Trump and other defendants doing business in New York. 

 

>>Mortgage Rates Climb After Long Period Of Treading Water

(Washington, DC)  --  Mortgage rates in the U.S. are jumping after strong employment and inflation reports. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged six-point-seven-seven-percent this week. That's up from six-point-six-four the previous week, according to Freddie Mac data. It's still higher than a year ago, when the average rate was just over six-point-three-percent. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said "the economy has been performing well so far this year and rates may stay higher for longer, potentially slowing the spring homebuying season.

 

>>Boosting Meta Posts On iOS To Incur Apple Fee

(Menlo Park, CA)  --  Meta says that businesses using iOS versions of its social media apps will now have to pay an extra 30-percent service charge levied by Apple for boosting their posts and content.  A spokesperson for Meta said the company had to either comply with Apple's guidelines or remove boosted posts altogether.  The changes start this month in the U.S.

 

>>Waymo Issues Recall

(Phoenix, AZ)  --  Autonomous vehicle operator Waymo is recalling a previous version of its software that was used in its driverless cars.  The recall announced this week stems from an incident in December when two self-driving Waymo vehicles in Arizona crashed into a pickup truck that was being towed.  A spokesperson for the company says Waymo's automated driving system incorrectly predicted the future motion of the towed vehicle, which was reportedly being improperly towed.  There weren't any passengers in either Waymo vehicle and no injuries were reported.  

 

>>Customers Returning Apple Vision Pro

(Undated)  --  Social media accounts are showing an uptick in the number of people already returning their new Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headsets.  Comfort is among the top reasons for returning the 35-hundred-dollar tech, with people saying it gave them headaches and motion sickness.  Another complaint is that it's just not useful enough for the price.

AM Business Notebook

 

>>Retail Sales Down More Than Expected

(Washington, DC)  --  Consumer spending is down more than expected.  The Commerce Department reported Thursday that retail sales fell point-eight-percent last month.  That was more than the point-one-percent decline economists anticipated.  The drop in retail sales comes after December saw a point-four-percent jump during the holiday shopping season.  This marks the worst month for retail sales since March of last year.

>>Microsoft Report Shows Adversaries Use AI For Offensive Cyber Operations

(Washington, DC) -- A new report shows that adversaries of the U.S. are using artificial intelligence for offensive cyber operations. Microsoft published the document in collaboration with OpenAI. It said Microsoft stopped threats aimed to exploit AI technology it developed. The company wrote that "Cybercrime groups, nation-state threat actors, and other adversaries are exploring and testing different AI technologies as they emerge." Microsoft said it's an attempt from U.S. adversaries to look into the security controls they need to go around.

 

>>SpaceX To Build $100M Office Complex In South Texas

(Brownsville, TX) -- SpaceX says it is going to build a 100-million dollar office and industrial complex at its Starbase in South Texas. Paperwork filed with the state shows the five-story, one-million-square foot facility will have offices and support a special-use industrial factory. Construction is set to begin February 23rd.

 

>>Lab Grown Diamond Sales Are Booming

(New York, NY) -- Over the past couple of years lab-grown diamonds have been mass-produced, throwing the natural diamond industry into a crisis and changing the way we shop for jewelry. According to the Gemological Institute of America, lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical and physical properties as the mined versions. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission determined that lab-grown diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds, and do not need to be called, "synthetic." Since then, lab-grown sales shot up 38-percent, and can cost anywhere from 75-to-90-percent less than natural diamonds. De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer and distributor, has cut the price of mined stones by as much as 25-percent due to falling demand, and have launched a subsidiary brand, Lightbox, to offer luxury lab-grown diamonds.

 

>>Wendy's Adds Cinnabon To Breakfast Menu

(New York, NY) -- Wendy's is adding a sweet treat to its breakfast lineup from another fast food chain. Beginning February 26th, Wendy's will partner with Cinnabon to add a new baked good to its early menu called cinnamon pull-aparts. Editor-in-chief of trade publication Restaurant Business Jonathan Maze said it's common for fast food restaurants to partner with brands they may not consider direct rivals. It's a way to get the brand to "reach well beyond its existing store base," he said.

AM Business Notebook

>>Inflation Higher Than Expected In January

(Washington, DC) -- Inflation turned out to be slightly higher than expected in January. New government figures out Tuesday show the consumer price index rose three-tenths of a percent last month as Americans paid more for goods and services. Prices for housing and shelter led the way, with lower gas prices helping to offset some of the increase. Core prices, excluding volatile food and energy, rose three-point-nine percent from one year ago.

 

>>Uber, Lyft And DoorDash Drivers Strike On Valentine's Day

(Undated) -- Uber, Lyft and DoorDash drivers are striking in cities across the U.S. today, seeking better pay. The drivers are expected to picket outside airports and Uber officers. The Justice For App Workers coalition, which represents about 130-thousand drivers, says drivers won't be providing rides to and from airports between the hours of 11 am and 1pm in nearly a dozen cities. Cities where airports will be impacted by Uber and Lyft strikes: Austin, Texas; Chicago, Hartford, Connecticut; Miami, Tampa and Orlando, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh and Providence, Rhode Island.

 

>>Typo Sends Lyft Stock Soaring

(San Francisco, CA) -- A typo sent rideshare company Lyft's stock surging Tuesday. The company's fourth quarter earnings statement estimated its gross margin to increase by five percentage points. It was supposed to say half a percentage point. Stocks went up 62 percent before coming back down to earth after a correction was issued.

 

>>Boeing Sees Worst Month For New Airplane Orders

(New York, NY) -- Boeing is seeing its worst month for new airplane orders after the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout incident. The company said Tuesday it booked orders for only three 737 Max planes to an unidentified customer, but had three other orders cancelled, adding up to a net zero of orders for the period. That's its worst month since the pandemic. Earlier this month, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said the company is not counting on any of the 737 Max 10 models it ordered, saying the door plug incident is the "straw that broke the camel's back."

 

>>Media Giant Paramount Global Lays Off 800 Workers

(New York, NY) -- Paramount Global is laying off about 800 employees. Sources tell CNBC the media company sent out an internal memo to employees on Tuesday saying it's laying off about three percent of its workforce. Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish had already sent out a memo last month warning of impending layoffs. The move comes after Paramount's CBS network set record highs for Super Bowl viewership, with an estimated 123-million people watching across all platforms on game day. CBS charged a record-high average of six-and-a-half-million dollars for each 30-second Super Bowl ad.

 

>>ESPN, CFP Extend Rights Deal

(Undated) -- The College Football Playoff will remain on ESPN for the foreseeable future. The CFP agreed to a new rights deal with ESPN on Tuesday. The network will exclusively broadcast the new 12-team tournament until at least 2031. The new deal kicks in before the 2026 season and is worth seven-point-eight billion dollars over six years. ESPN has held the rights to the CFP Semi-Finals and Finals since the playoff started in 2014.

 

>>Valentine's Day Spending On Significant Others to Reach New Record

(New York, NY) -- It's shaping up to be a record year for spending this Valentine's Day. That's according to the National Retail Federation. It says consumers plan to spend a total of 25-point-eight billion dollars this Valentines day, on par with last year's spending and the third highest in the survey's history. 62-percent of consumers ages 25-to-34 intend to celebrate this year, more than any other age group. Consumers expect to spend 185-dollar each on average, that's nearly eight dollars more than the average Valentine's Day spending over the last five years.

AM Business Notebook

>>Stocks Drop After Hot Inflation Report

(New York, NY) -- Wall Street is opening sharply lower after inflation data came in hotter than expected. The consumer price index for January rose three-tenths of a percent and core prices, excluding volatile food and energy, rose three-point-nine percent from one year ago. The reading spiked Treasury yields and raised concerns about Federal Reserve rate cuts this year. At the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 300 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were off more than one percent in early trading.

 

>>Nvidia Market Cap Eclipses Amazon, Alphabet

(Santa Clara, CA) -- Nvidia is currently the fourth-most valuable public company in the world after trading closed Monday. Shares in the chip company rose, pushing its market cap to one-point-83 trillion dollars, moving it ahead of both Alphabet and Amazon. The stock has risen 17-thousand percent over the past decade.

 

>>Elon Musk Has To Testify In SEC Probe Of Twitter Acquisition

(Washington, D.C.) -- Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk is going to have to testify in a probe by the SEC into his takeover of Twitter. A U.S. judge made the order in a court filing over the weekend. The tech mogul acquired Twitter in 2022 and rebranded the social media app into what is now called "X." SEC officials are investigating whether Musk, or anyone else, committed securities fraud that year as the billionaire began buying stock in Twitter ahead of his leveraged buyout of the company. The federal financial regulator and Musk now have one week to set a date and location for his testimony.

 

>>Uber, Lyft And Doordash Drivers To Strike On Valentine's Day

(New York, NY) -- Uber, Lyft and DoorDash drivers are striking across the U.S. on Valentine's Day. Drivers' groups said Monday they're seeking fair pay. This is the first strike call since Uber and Lyft went public in 2019. Groups said drivers are going to picket outside airports and Uber officers. The Justice For App Workers coalition, which represents about 130-thousand drivers, said drivers wouldn't provide rides to and from airports between 11 am and 1pm in nearly a dozen cities.

 

>>Tiger Woods Announces Apparel Deal

(Pacific Palisades, CA) -- Tiger Woods has a new apparel deal. After ending his decades-long, highly profitable relationship with Nike last month, the pro golf veteran announced on Monday that he's working with TaylorMade to launch a new brand: Sun Day Red. The company's website says the line is coming May 1st and will also include women and children's styles.

AM Business Notebook

>>Coming Up In The Business Week 

(Undated)  --  Coming up in the business week ahead, there are no notable economic reports slated for release today.  Things will start to pick up Tuesday with the release of the consumer price index - a key inflation indicator.  Fast forward to Thursday and we'll have word on retail sales, weekly jobless claims and the home builder confidence index.  The week wraps up Friday with the producer price index, housing starts, building permits and lastly, consumer sentiment.

 

>>Las Vegas Expects Super Bowl Windfall 

(Las Vegas, NV)  --  Las Vegas likely hosted more than 330-thousand visitors for the Super Bowl as the Kansas City Chiefs took down the San Francisco 49ers to claim the NFL title.  The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority had said it expected the matchup to provide a 600-million-dollar economic boost for the city.  Much of that likely came from fans, with the cheapest seat at Allegiant Stadium going for about 57-hundred dollars on StubHub.  Prices for the most expensive seats soared to nearly 19-grand each.

 

>>Ford To Ditch Driver-Assist Parallel Parking

(Dearborn, MI)  --  Ford Motor Company is getting rid of its driver-assist parallel parking feature on new vehicles.  Officials say very few people are using it and removing the feature will save the company ten-million-dollars.  AutoForecast Solutions Sam Fiorani applauded the move by Ford, saying self parking is difficult to use and it can be a hassle to figure out how to use it. 

 

>>Some 5,000 Anheuser-Busch Workers May Strike by March

(St. Louis, MO)  --  Over five-thousand Anheuser-Busch union workers could go on a company-wide strike by March.  Teamsters Union President Sean O'Brien says the company must commit to job security demands, wage increases, enhanced benefits and making Juneteenth a paid holiday in order to prevent an employee walk-off.  That would happen February 29th.  Negotiations continue after 99 percent of workers at 12 breweries voted in December to authorize a strike.  On Monday, the union announced it will pay employees a thousand dollars a week if the strike happens.  Brussels-based parent company InBev's North American headquarters are in St. Louis, but the company has U.S. breweries in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Virginia. 

 

>>"Rolling Stone" Losing Editor-In-Chief

(New York, NY)  --  Rolling Stone's editor-in-chief is calling it quits.  It was announced on Friday that Noah Shactman would be parting ways with the publication, effectively March 1st.  Word is Shactman's departure comes as a result of growing differences with Rolling Stone's chief executive, Gus Wenner.  A search for a new editor is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

 

>>"Argylle" Stays Atop Box Office

(Hollywood, CA)  --  The spy comedy "Argylle" tops the weekend box office for the second week in a row.  The Matthew Vaughn-directed movie took in an estimated six-point-five-million-dollars this weekend after earning more than 17-million-dollars in its opening weekend.  The dark comedy "Lisa Frankenstein" is the only debut to make the top five, bringing in three-point-eight-million-dollars.  A reissue of the 2021 version of "Dune" finished ninth with one-point-six-million-dollars.  The reissue leads into the March 1st release of Dune Two.

AM Business Notebook

>> Congress Grills Pharmaceutical Company Execs Update

(Washington, DC)  --  During a hearing in front of a senate subcommittee Thursday the three largest pharmaceutical executives admitted that patients in the United States are paying too much.  Executives at Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb were summoned in front of the Senate Health Committee and were confronted about American prices compared to other wealthy countries.  They conceded that prices are higher in America but claimed that medications arrive faster than anywhere else in the world, and that other countries have more limited health insurance coverage.  The Department of Health and Human Services found in 20-22 that even when taking into account the discounts Americans receive from health plans and employers pay, people still pay on average at least three times as much.  The executives went onto blame the pharmacy benefit managers for not negociating better deals because they receive more money when  the sticker price of a drug is higher. 

 

>>Mexico Overtakes China As Leader Of Imports To US

(New York, NY)  --  The United States bought more goods from Mexico than China in 2023 for the first time in 20 years. New data out this week shows Mexico outpaced China to become America's top source of imports - a significant shift that highlights how tensions between Washington and Beijing are altering trade flows.  Economists say the decrease in trade with China is clearly linked to the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and maintained by President Biden.  According to the UN, foreign direct investment in developing countries fell nine-percent in 2023, but the flow of investment to Mexico surged 21-percent  last year.

 

>>House Report Accuses Venture Capitalists Of Having Links To Chinese Military

(Washington, DC)  --  A new congressional report is accusing U.S. venture capital firms of funding tech companies linked to the Chinese military.  The House select committee on China released a report on Thursday accusing Qualcomm Ventures and other firms of sinking at least three-billion dollars into companies with ties to the military in Beijing.  The report also alleges that U.S. venture capitalists "have helped build and strengthen" China's "priority sectors."  The Chinese Embassy in Washington responded by saying the use of national security as a pretext to restrict investments in China will "undermine the principle of free trade."

 

>>Some 5,000 Anheuser-Busch Workers May Strike by March

(St. Louis, MO)  --  Over five-thousand Anheuser-Busch union workers could go on a company-wide strike by March.  Teamsters Union President Sean O'Brien says the company must commit to job security demands, wage increases, enhanced benefits and making Juneteenth a paid holiday in order to prevent an employee walk-off.  That would happen February 29th.  Negotiations continue after 99 percent of workers at 12 breweries voted in December to authorize a strike.  On Monday, the union announced it will pay employees a thousand dollars a week if the strike happens.  Brussels-based parent company InBev's North American headquarters are in St. Louis, but the company has U.S. breweries in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Virginia. 

 

>>Yellen: Empty Office Buildings Hard On Smaller Banks

(New York, NY)  --  Empty office buildings will make more stress for smaller banks, according to the Treasury Secretary. Janet Yellen said before Congress yesterday that "It's obvious that there's going to be a stress and losses that are associated with this." She told lawmakers that it's also related to high interest rates and declining valuations. But she added she does not see commercial real estate vacancies creating a systemic risk to the country's financial system.

 

>>GM, LG Chem Agree to $19B EV Battery Deal 

(Detroit, MI)  --  General Motors and LG Chem are establishing a long-term 19-billion-dollar battery supply deal.  The contract will begin in 2026 and run through 2035.  LG Chem will supply GM with enough materials for five-million electric vehicle batteries with a range of 310 miles on a single charge.  The battery materials will come from a LG Chem plant that is currently under construction in Tennessee.  GM vice president Jeff Morrison says the deal is part of GM's commitment to growing the sustainable battery EV supply chain while also strengthening the North American supply chain. 


 

AM Business Notebook

>>TradeStation Crypto $3 Million Settlement

(Salem, OR) -- The cryptocurrency investment firm TradeStation Crypto has reached a three-million-dollar settlement with Oregon and eight other states. TradeStation Crypto was accused of operating an unregistered crypto interest earning program. The Florida-based company would pay customers interest on their cryptocurrency investment. The company didn't register with the states. TradeStation Crypto agreed to stop offering the program until it has registered with the states.

 

>>Amazon Upping Identification For Flex Driver Protection

(New York, NY) -- Amazon may soon show you the name and photo of the person delivering your package. The information reports it's part of a test aimed at protecting the company's flex delivery drivers. Amazon may also provide those driers with amazon-branded stickers and lights to put on their cars, since they often use their own vehicles. The move is likely in response to a report last year saying flex drivers have been threatened after being mistake for intruders.

 

>>Ford Making Adjustments After EV Losses

(Dearborn, MI) -- Ford is making changes to their electric vehicle strategy after sluggish sales. Ford's CEO said the company will develop vehicles that will compete with lower cost EV's from Tesla and Chinese automakers. Ford lost four-point-seven billion dollars last year on their current EV lineup and projects a loss of five-point-five billion this year. Ford is reducing overall EV investment by 12-billion dollars and increasing the manufacturing of gas powered vehicles which generate profits needed to fund growth.

 

>>Disney Buys Piece Of Epic Games, New Disney Game Coming To Fortnite

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Disney has purchased a minority stake in the gaming company Epic Games. It was also announced Wednesday that Epic will create a new universe within Fortnite, integrating the Disney franchises like Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, and the others into a single game mode. The companies have worked together in the past to bring various playable characters into Fortnite.

 

>>Rappers Sue Post & Walmart Over Cereal Deal

(New York, NY) -- Rappers Master P and Snoop Dogg are filing a lawsuit against some of the biggest food retailers in the country. They say the companies conspired to halt their efforts to sell their cereal brand. According to a TMZ report, they hired famed criminal attorney Benjamin Crump to file a lawsuit against Post and Walmart after both allegedly teamed up to ruin their deal to sell Snoop Cereal and Momma Snoop.

 

>>Most Expensive Home In America For Sale

(Naples, FL) -- A multi-home estate in Naples, Florida is up for sale for nearly 300-million dollars. If the property is purchased for any amount close to that figure it would become the most expensive in American history. The owners of the land, the Donahue Family, are looking to part with nine-acres of beach front property that includes three mansions and a yacht basin. The land was originally purchased for one million dollars in 1985. The current record for most expensive residential property was a New York City penthouse that sold for 240-million dollars in 2019.

 

>>Coca-Cola Introduces First New Flavor In 3 Years

(Atlanta, GA) -- A new flavor of Coca-Cola will be hitting store shelves soon. Coca-Cola Spiced is set to go on sale February 19th, marking the beverage company's first new permanent flavor in three years. The new flavor is described as a "burst of refreshing raspberry flavors and spiced notes." The company is also launching a flavor called "Happy Tears" that will be available exclusively on TikTok on February 17th to mark Random Acts of Kindness Day. That flavor is described as the taste of Coca-Cola paired with a splash of salty minerals.

AM Business Notebook

>>Ford Beats Revenue Projections

(Dearborn, MI)  --  Ford stock rose six percent in aftermarket trading after the automaker beat revenue projections for the quarter.  The company also announced a new electric vehicle on Tuesday designed to compete against Tesla's upcoming Model 2.  At the same time, Ford says it's looking at about two billion dollars on cost reductions this year.

>>Buttigieg Weighs In On Apple Headset Cybertruck Video

(Washington, DC)  --  Federal officials are concerned about a viral video that appears to show a motorist wearing a new Apple Vision Pro headset while sitting behind the wheel of a self-driving Cybertruck.  Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg [[ BOOT-edge-edge ]] on Monday posted a reminder that all assisted driving features available today "require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times."  The video posted this past weekend shows a driver interacting with the headset as the new Tesla Cybertruck apparently drives itself down a Utah highway.  The video has been seen over 24-million times.

 

>>Meta Working On Labeling AI Images On All Platforms

(Menlo Park, CA)  --  Meta says it's pushing to label AI-generated images on all its platforms.  The tech giant said it's working on technology that will identify and add labels to images created by third party AI tools.  This comes as Meta prepares for the 2024 election and the possibility of AI being used to spread false information.  Meta also said it will be adding a feature that will allow users to label AI-generated audio and videos that they share.  The company added that users who don't add labels could face penalties.

 

>>GM Issues Recall For Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks

(Detroit, MI)  --  An electrical issue with the tailgate release switch on some General Motors pickups is forcing a recall by the automaker.  Approximately 323-thousand heavy duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups built between 2020 and this year have a possible defect.  The switch can reportedly short out due to water getting into the connection and the tailgate could open when the vehicle is put in park.  GM has reportedly received 136 complaints and three issues involving minor property damage. Owners will begin to get recall notices on March 18th.

 

>>One For The Road At Drizly

(San Francisco, CA)  --  Drizly is no more. San Francisco-based Uber plans to lay off all of their Drizly employees and shut down the app by the end of March, according to documents filed in Massachusetts. Uber purchased Drizly in 2021.  At the time, the alcohol delivery app served more than 14-hundred cities and grew to become North America's largest online booze retailer.  All Drizly positions are to be eliminated, as well as some support roles at Uber.  Only a handful of employees will be offered roles at Uber in the Beverage and Alcohol service.

 

>>Dollar General Starts Selling Fresh Produce

(Goodlettsville, TN)  --  Dollar General is soon going to carry fresh fruits and vegetables.   The new choices include salad mixes, strawberries, potatoes, and tomatoes.  The items will hit around five-thousand locations across the country. The retailer serves a large percent of rural and underpopulated areas. The upgrades are set to begin as early as next month. 
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Meta Working On Labeling AI Images On All Platforms

(Menlo Park, CA)  --  Meta says it's pushing to label AI-generated images on all its platforms.  The tech giant said it's working on technology that will identify and add labels to images created by third party AI tools.  This comes as Meta prepares for the 2024 election and the possibility of AI being used to spread false information.  Meta also said it will be adding a feature that will allow users to label AI-generated audio and videos that they share.  The company added that users who don't add labels could face penalties.

 

>>McDonald's: Tension In Middle East Impacting Business

(New York, NY)  --  McDonald's says tension in the Middle East is hurting business. The fast food giant reported growing overall sales and earnings in its fourth quarter, but said the issues in the Middle East are still looming over sales in the region.   McDonald's mostly licenses its brand to independent companies in the Middle East, which doesn't make up a large part of the company's overall business. It said business grew less than one-percent in the region, compared to more than four-percent growth in the US and other nations.

 

>>Snap To Layoff 10% Of Workforce

(Santa Monica, CA)  --  Snap is planning to layoff ten-percent of its global workforce.  The social media company announced the cuts today, which will affect about 500 employees.  Snap's last major round of cuts came in 2022 as part of a business restructuring plan.

 

>>Stew Leonard's Recalls Chicken Products

(Undated)  --  Stew Leonard's is recalling some chicken products sold in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut stores, weeks after a deadly ingredient product mix-up.  This time stores are recalling several chicken products because they might contain milk.  Last month, cookies that didn't say they contained peanuts and eggs, led to the death of a New York woman.  So far, no illnesses have been reported with the chicken products.

AM Business Notebook

>>McDonald's: Tension In Middle East Impacting Business

(New York, NY) -- McDonald's says tension in the Middle East is hurting business. The fast food giant reported growing overall sales and earnings in its fourth quarter, but said the issues in the Middle East are still looming over sales in the region. McDonald's mostly licenses its brand to independent companies in the Middle East, which doesn't make up a large part of the company's overall business. It said business grew less than one-percent in the region, compared to more than four-percent growth in the US and other nations.

 

>>Boeing Reworking 50 Undelivered Planes

(Arlington, VA) -- Boeing is taking a second look at 50 undelivered 737 MAX jets to fix some problems. Some of the planes were found to have misdrilled holes on their fuselages. The company said over the weekend that the delay will affect its production schedule, but will improve overall quality and stability.

 

>>Gen-Z Is Turning To Social Media For Investment Advise

(New York, NY) -- TikTok has become one of the most popular sources for financial tips and advice, particularly among Generation Z. Gen Zers are nearly five times more likely to get financial advice from social media than adults in their 40s or older, according to a CreditCards.com report. Young investors, those ages 18 to 25, look to so-called "finfluencers" for money-saving, or money-making wisdom. However, only 20-percent of the finfluencer content - that contained investment recommendations - included any form of disclosure, according to the CFA Institute. Like all things on social media, not all expert advice is true, or unbiased.

 

>>Spotify Renws Deal with Podcaster Joe Rogan

(Austin, TX) -- Podcaster Joe Rogan has renewed his exclusive contract with Spotify. The multi-year deal is reportedly worth as much as 250-million-dollars. The Stockholm, Sweden-based streaming platform says that since "The Joe Rogan Experience" became exclusive in 2020, overall podcast consumption on Spotify has increased by two hundred 32 percent.

 

>>"Argylle" Tops Weekend Box Office

(Hollywood, CA) -- For the first time in three weeks, a movie in its opening week tops the box office. The spy action comedy "Argylle" took in an estimated 18-million-dollars over the weekend. Another debut came in second as "The Chosen: Season Four -- Episodes One-Through-Three" made just over six-million-dollars. "The Beekeeper," "Wonka" and "Migration" round out the top five.

 

>>Quaker Oats Issues Additional Granola Recalls

(New York, NY) -- Quaker Oats is expanding its nationwide recall of its granola bars. This week, the company said its Quaker Chewy Dipps Llama Rama bars have been added to a list of previously recalled products due to potential salmonella contamination. The affected products bear "best before" dates of February 10th or 11th, 2024 and were sold in all 50 states. This is the third recall announcement Quaker has made in the last three months.

 

>>Valentine's Day Spending On Significant Others to Reach New Record

(New York, NY) -- It's shaping up to be a record year for spending this Valentine's Day. That's according to the National Retail Federation. It says consumers plan to spend a total of 25-point-eight billion dollars this Valentines day, on par with last year's spending and the third highest in the survey's history. 62-percent of consumers ages 25-to-34 intend to celebrate this year, more than any other age group. Consumers expect to spend 185-dollar each on average, that's nearly eight dollars more than the average Valentine's Day spending over the last five years.

AM Business Notebook

>>Consumer Sentiment Jumps 13% In January

(Ann Arbor, MI) -- Consumer sentiment surged in January. The University of Michigan's final reading for the month confirmed a 13 percent jump in sentiment as the outlook improved for both inflation and personal incomes. 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.

 

>>Economy Added 353,000 Jobs In January

(Washington, DC) -- Job growth is off to a strong start in 2024. The Labor Department says 353-thousand jobs were added to the U.S. economy last month. That's nearly double the increase economists expected. The unemployment rate held steady at three-point-seven-percent in January. Most of the job gains were in professional and business services, health care and retail trade.

 

>>Boeing Shareholders Sue Company After Mid-Air Blowout

(Washington, DC) -- Boeing shareholders are suing the company after a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines flight midair. The lawsuit alleges Boeing misled investors about potential "serious safety lapses." That's according to court filings. The class action suit is led by the Rhode Island Attorney General who said Boeing "betrayed the trust of Rhode Island pensioners" and called on the manufacturer to be held accountable.

 

>>Musk To Ask Shareholders To Move Tesla Incorporation from Delaware to Texas

(Austin, TX) -- Elon Musk says he will ask Tesla shareholders to vote on moving the company's state of incorporation from Delaware to Texas. The move comes after a judge in Delaware invalidated Musk's 56- billion dollar pay package, saying the company's board of directors failed to show the compensation was fair. In response, Musk posted to X, "Never incorporate your company in the state of Delaware." He has since returned to his X account, posting an informal poll in which he asked about the state change. Eighty percent of respondents were in favor.

 

>>Engineering Firm Settles Lawsuit Related To Flint Water

Crisis (Flint, MI) -- An agreement has been reached between an engineering firm and residents of Flint, Michigan who filed a class action lawsuit against the company. Veolia North America has agreed to pay 25-million dollars to settle the case weeks before a trial was to begin. The company consulted city officials on the quality of the water after the switch was made to the Flint River. They recommended the city use corrosion control to prevent lead from getting into the water. However, plaintiffs said the company failed to warn of corroding water pipes which they claim extended the contamination. Veolia did not admit to any wrongdoing and said the blame for the Flint Water Crisis should be directed at government officials.

 

>>Delta American Express Raise Rates

(Atlanta, GA) -- It'll soon be more expensive to have a Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card. The company will be increasing fees this year, but also adding more benefits. The annual fees for the SkyMiles AmEx cards will go up from 99-dollars to 150-dollars annually for Gold cards, and from 250-dollars to 350-dollars annually for Platinum cards. Reserve card fees will go up from 550-dollars to 650-dollars annually. Benefits for Platinum and Reserve cards include a companion certificate allowing you to bring a companion on a trip with the purchase of a Delta ticket. The new fees will take effect after May 1st.

 

>>Amtrak Looks To Double Ridership By 2040

(Washington, DC) -- Amtrak aims to double ridership by 2040. The railroad company said it's investing in broader service, hoping to serve 66-million riders per year. The announcement comes as the Biden administration makes more investments in rail structure. Taxpayer-supported Amtrak also plans to add about 35-hundred jobs this year in construction and rail services.

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve Holds Rates Steady

(Washington, DC) -- The Federal Reserve is holding interest rates steady. Wednesday's decision delays any rate cuts to later in the year. The Fed will meet again in March. The central bank's rate hiking campaign last year created an increase in borrowing costs for things like mortgages, credit card and auto loans. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters, however, the central bank needs to see more evidence inflation is easing before cutting back rates.

 

>>President Biden Heads To Michigan

(Washington, DC) -- President Joe Biden will meet with United Auto Workers union members today in Michigan. The meeting comes after the UAW endorsed Biden for a second term on January 24th, drawing the ire of former President Donald Trump. The state's primary election for president is February 27th.

 

>>GOP Senator Cotton Defends Asking TikTok CEO If He Has Ties To CCP

(Washington, DC) -- A U.S. senator from Arkansas is facing criticism for asking the CEO of TikTok if he had ties to the Chinese Communist Party. CEO Shou Zi Chew was one of five social media leaders who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at a hearing about online child exploitation. During the hearing, Republican Senator Tom Cotton asked twice if Chew had any ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and both times Chew said no, he was from Singapore. Cotton defended his questioning later on Fox News, and claimed Singapore has one of the highest degrees of influence by the Chinese communists.

 

>>Hulu To Ban Password Sharing

(Santa Monica, CA) -- Hulu is going to start banning password sharing. The streaming service notified customers on Wednesday that it will ban people sharing accounts outside of a household starting in March. Netflix started doing the same thing last year and despite fears of losing subscribers, the service has actually seen subscriber growth.

 

>>Universal Music Group Pulls Music Off TikTok

(London) -- Music from many of the biggest artists will no longer be available to use on TikTok. Universal Music Group, which owns labels that represent the likes of Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Rihanna among many others, said in a statement that it's not renewing its licensing agreement with the social media app. Their current agreement expires today. According to the company, TikTok proposed paying a "fraction" of the rate that other similarly-sized social media platforms pay. TikTok responded, saying Universal is pushing "false narratives and rhetoric" and accused the music corporation of putting "their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters."

 

>>Quit Rates Declining

(New York, NY) -- Just as the weekly jobless claims reports is set to come out today, there's word that workers are calling it quits less frequently, a possible sign that Americans aren't confident in finding another job. According to the Labor Department, Americans quit six-point-one million fewer jobs last year than in 2022, which is a decline of 12-percent. Just three industries, leisure and hospitality, government and healthcare, accounted for the bulk of job creation in 2023. Most economists say job openings right now are at a healthy level. The Federal Reserve uses this data to determine if there should be any additional rate hikes to help curb inflation. There are about one-point-four open jobs for every unemployed person, and while not quitting as much, most workers aren't being forced out either. Economists expect growth to cool significantly in 2024.

 

>>Walmart To Open 150 New Stores

(Bentonville, AR) -- Walmart is opening 150 new stores in the U.S. and remodeling existing ones. The retail giant announced Wednesday that the process will continue over the next five years. The company's President and CEO John Furner says the "efforts represent millions of dollars in capital investment of labor, supplies and tax revenue, which benefit their respective communities." The plans are a sign of Walmart investing in physical stores despite saying previously it would focus more online sales.

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