Business News Archives for 2024-03

AM Business Notebook

>>Baltimore Bridge Collapse Financial Fallout

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

 

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

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

 

>>Workers Accuse Boeing of Retaliation For Safety Claims

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

 

>>Wealth Of 1% Hits Record $44 Trillion

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

 

>>Corporate Profits Boom In Fourth Quarter Of 2023

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

 

>>Brother Of Jared Kushner Buys Life Magazine

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

 

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

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

 

>>Godzilla And Kong To Dominate Box Office

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

AM Business Notebook

>>Sam Bankman-Fried Guilty To Learn Fate 

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

 

>>People Expected To Spend Less For Easter

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

 

>>Dollar Tree Hikes Prices

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

 

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

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

  

>>Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura Starts Cannabis Edible Company

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

AM Business Notebook

>>Trump Media Stock Jumps 50% In Market Debut 

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

 

>>Visa And Mastercard Reach Settlement With Merchants Over Fees

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

 

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

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

 

>>Apple Faces Three Consumer Lawsuits

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

 

>>Landlord Asks Judge To Evict MyPillow From Warehouse

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

AM Business Notebook

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

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

 

>>Boeing CEO Out

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

 

>>Trump Joins Bloomberg 500 Wealthiest

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

 

>>New Home Sales Dip In Februrary

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

 

>>Nike Scales Back Air Force 1 Production

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

 

>>Over Half Of Homeowners Worried About Extreme Weather

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

 

>>Powerball Jackpot Rolls Over 

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

AM Business Notebook

>>DOJ Sues Apple For Alleged Antitrust Law Violations 

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

 

>>NY AG Takes First Step To Seize Trump Assets

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

 

>>Home Sales Soar To Highest Levels In A Year

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

 

>>Reddit Shares Up On First Day Of Trading

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

 

>>Stellantis Announces Investment In French Start Up

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

 

>>Over 440-Thousand Starbucks Mugs Recalled 

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

 

>>Timberwolves  New Ownership

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

AM Business Notebook

>>Fed Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

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

 

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

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

 

>>Reddit IPO Valued At $34 A Share

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

 

>>FCC Investigating Sales Of Signal Jammers

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

AM Business Notebook

>>FOMC To Announce Decision On Interest Rates

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

 

>>Former President Trump Complains On Truth Social About Bond

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

 

>>FAA Chief Speaks On Boeing Concerns

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

 

>>Safety Regulators Investigating Ford Crash Involving Driver Assistance Features

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

 

>>JetBlue Cutting Five Cities

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

AM Business Notebook

>>United Airlines CEO Reassures Customers About Safety

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

 

>>Congress Facing Another Shutdown Deadline 

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

 

>>Musk Talks About Drug Use With Don Lemon

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

 

>>Craft Store Joann Files For Bankruptcy

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

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden Urges Lawmakers To Pass Ukraine Aid Bill 

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

 

>>Biden Campaign Raises over $53B In February

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

 

>>HHS Investigating Cyberattack

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

 

>>Target Making Changes To Self-Checkout Lanes

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

 

>>McDonald's Confirms Global Outage

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

 

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

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

 

AM Business Notebook

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

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

 

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

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

 

>>Retail Spending Up In February Amid Rising Gas Prices

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

>>Former CEO Plank Is Coming Back To Under Armour

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

AM Business Notebook

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

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

 

>>Bernie Sanders Introduces 32-Hour Work Week Bill

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

 

>>Dollar Tree Plans To Close A Thousand Stores

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

 

>>Blue Diamond Cutting Corporate Jobs

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

 

>>CA Law Firm Sues Makers of Popular Tobacco Product

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

 

>>How To Get The Quickest Tax Return

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

AM Business Notebook

>>House GOP Preparing For TikTok Ban Bill Vote

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

 

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

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

 

>>Southwest Lowers Outlook Amid Weaker Boeing Delivery Forecast 

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

 

>>BU Graduate Workers Vote To Authorize Strike

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

AM Business Notebook

>>Key Inflation Report Due

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

 

>>Equal Pay Day

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

 

>>Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead

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

 

>>Airbnb Bans Indoor Security Cameras

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

 

>>Musk: Grok Will Go Open Source This Week

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

 

>>Bitcoin Hits Record High

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

AM Business Notebook

>>A Look Ahead At The Coming Week In Business 

(Undated)  --  Coming up in the business week ahead, things start off quiet today with no major economic reports on the calendar.  Tuesday brings the consumer price index - a key indicator of the state of inflation.  Wednesday should be another quiet day, while Thursday brings data on retail sales along with the producer price index and weekly jobless claims.  Most analysts see the number of first-time requests for unemployment benefits coming in at right around 216-thousand, not far from where things were last week.  A preliminary report on consumer sentiment wraps the week up on Friday.  

 

>>GM Lowers Price, Starts Selling Blazer EV Models Again

(Detroit, MI)  --  General Motors will be selling the all-electric version of the Chevrolet Blazer again at a lower price. Sales restarted today after a two-month halt in sales to fix software issues with the SUV.  Chevrolet officials released a statement saying the software will improve features and functionality. The cost of the vehicle will be several thousand dollars less and is now again eligible for the 75-hundred dollar federal tax credit for EV's. The automaker will also now have an entry level model that starts under 50-thousand dollars.

 

>>Tuesday Is Equal Pay Day

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

 

>>Panda Beats Dune At Box Office

(Hollywood, CA)  --  It's a busy Oscar weekend at the box office as the top two films combine for more than 100-million-dollars.  "Kung Fu Panda Four" tops the weekend box office with an estimated 58-point-three-million-dollars in its opening week.  Last week's box office champion, "Dune: Part Two," is in second with 46-point-three-million.  Debut films take the next two spots, but are well behind the leaders.  "Imaginary" opened in third place with ten-million-dollars, followed by "Cabrini" at seven-point-five-million.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Biden: Tax Code Needs Reform   (Washington, DC)  --  President Biden wants to reform the tax code.  During his State of the Union address, Biden slammed Donald Trump's tax plan, claiming it only helped the very rich.  He said he wants the biggest companies in the U.S. to pay their "fair share." He also pushed the child tax credit.  Biden believes the billionaires in the U.S. need to pay more and the middle and lower class need to pay less.       

 

>>House Committee Advances Bill That Could Ban TikTok

(Washington, DC)  --  A bill that could ban TikTok is advancing out of committee.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously voted to advance the bipartisan bill.  It would require the popular social media app's China-based parent company ByteDance to divest the app.  The "Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act was introduced by Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher and Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi earlier this week.  If the bill gets passed into law, ByteDance would then have about five months to sell TikTok before the ban goes into effect.

 

>>United Pausing Pilot Hiring This Spring 

(Undated)  --  United Airlines will slow pilot hiring this spring.  New hire classes will halt in May and June but are expected to resume in July.  The airline decided to pause hiring because of "new aircraft certification and manufacturing delays at Boeing," according to a memo that was sent out to employees on Thursday.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Federal Reserve Chair Expects Interest Rates To Come Down This Year

(Washington, DC)  --  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says he expects interest rates to begin their comedown this year. In prepared remarks on Capitol Hill, Powell said he's not ready yet to say when. He said "the committee does not expect that it will be appropriate to reduce the target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward two-percent." The central bank leader added that policymakers are keeping an eye on risks that inflation poses.

 

>>X Considering Getting Rid Of Showing Likes, Reposts

(San Francisco, CA)  --  X owner Elon Musk says the social media platform is considering getting rid of showing how many likes and reposts a post gets.  Speaking at a conference Wednesday, Musk said that info could clutter content on the service.  Since buying the company, Musk has added a feature allowing people to see how many views a post has received.

 

>>Target Launches Hundred-Dollar-Monthly Subscription Program

(Minneapolis, MN)  --   Target will launch a paid membership program next month, following the lead of its rivals, Amazon and Walmart. Target's subscription program, Circle 360, will launch in early April and cost 99-dollars per year.  The program will include unlimited free same-day delivery for orders over 35-dollars, along with other perks.  Target is turning to its competitors' playbook, as memberships have boosted business for retailers like Amazon and Walmart.  Target's digital sales have declined every quarter for the past year, and they're hoping the membership program will rev up their e-commerce business.

 

>>NTSB: Boeing Still Hasn't Provided Important Documents Regarding Door Plug Blowout

(Washington, DC)  --  Investigators say Boeing still hasn't turned over important records for the probe of the January door plug blowout incident. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators don't know who in the Boeing assembly line removed and reinstalled the door plug on the 737 Max. The agency's chairwoman said so testifying before a Senate committee on the Hill. Jennifer Homendy noted the NTSB has requested the documents "numerous times over the past few months." 

 

>>MASS MoCA Workers Strike

(North Adams, MA) - Unionized workers at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art went on strike Wednesday. MASS MoCA and employees have been negotiating over a new agreement since last October. The matter is over a minimum hourly wage with the union seeking 18-dollars-25 cents an hour, while the museum offered one dollar less. 

 

>>Caitlin Clark Inks Exclusive Trading Card Deal

(Iowa City, IA)  --  Iowa women's basketball star Caitlin Clark has signed an exclusive, multi-year deal with a major trading card company.  Panini America made the announcement today, saying that Caitlin is the first multi-year, exclusive athlete to sign with the company.  It is the first deal of its kind for a female athlete. Her first trading will honor the moment she passed Kelsey Plum to become the all-time leading scoring in N-C-A-A women's basketball history. 

AM Business Notebook

>>Credit Card Late Fees Capped At Eight Dollars

(Washington, DC) -- Credit card late fees are now capped at eight dollars. It's a part of a larger initiative by the Biden administration to get rid of junk fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates the new regulation will save families more than ten-billion-dollars a year. It applies to large credit card issuers with more than a million accounts, which represent more than 95-percent of total outstanding credit card debt. This comes as the White House tries to show it's taking action to help families with the high cost of living. The CFPB has also proposed a rule to stop excessive overdraft fees.

 

>>A.I. Being Integrated Into Workplace Software

(New York, NY) -- Monitoring employee communications isn't new, but the sophistication of analysis is getting an upgrade all thanks to A-I. AI is being integrated into common work-related software like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Meta's Workplace platform. Starbucks, Chevron, Walmart, and Delta have all started using AI products designed to pick up everything from bullying and harassment, to cyberattacks and insider trading. Data stays anonymous until the tech finds instances that it's been asked to highlight. Experts say that while AI tools might be new, watching, reading and tracking employee conversations is far from novel.

 

>>Former Twitter Executives Sue Elon Musk, X Corp.

(San Francisco, CA) -- Four former Twitter executives are suing Elon Musk and the social media company over unpaid severance pay. The group that includes Twitter's former CEO, CFO, head of legal and general counsel argue they are owed 128-million dollars from Musk and X Corp. In the lawsuit, the former executives claim Musk took revenge against them after being backed into buying Twitter for 44-billion dollars by "repeatedly refusing to honor other clear contractual commitments." They added that Musk and the company have been "stiffing employees, landlords, vendors and other" since taking over the social media giant. The lawsuit comes after it was reported last week that settlement talks broke down in a similar lawsuit filed by ex-Twitter workers over 500-million dollars in unpaid severance.

 

>>Bitcoin Surge Attributed To SEC Approval

(Washington, DC) -- Bitcoin hit at an all-time high on Tuesday. This comes after the SEC approved the exchange-traded funds that hold the cryptocurrency back in January. The SEC's approval led to a cash infusion after lending legitimacy to the digital assets. The cryptocurrency is over 68-thousand-and-800-dollars for the first time since November 2021. It's more than tripled since January 2023, when it was trading under 20-thousand-dollars.

 

>>Dodge Continues Charger, Challenger Lines

(Detroit, MI) -- Dodge is going to keep its Charger and Challenger models going with both gas and electric versions. The automaker announced in 2022 that production of the cars would stop, but sales of electric vehicle have been slower than expected. The first EV versions are expected to go on sale before the end of the year, with gas-powered cars hitting the market in 2025.

 

>>New Orders For Manufactured Goods Declines In Jan

(Washington, DC) -- New orders for manufactured goods declined for the second straight month in January. The Commerce Department reported a 21-billion-dollar decrease for the month following December's slight decline. Unfilled orders increased just over two-billion dollars in January. Inventories of manufactured durable goods rose for the six straight month with transportation equipment driving much of the increase.

AM Business Notebook

>>Congressional Leaders Unveil Massive Government Funding Bill 

(Washington, DC)  --  Congressional leaders are releasing the language of a massive government funding bill with plans to pass it and avoid a shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline. The over-one-thousand-page legislation would keep the government open until October and includes six bills negotiated between the House and Senate with President Biden's support. House Republicans are looking at a vote on the measure on Wednesday through a fast-tracked process, according to a leadership aid. Then it would go to the Senate, where it'll need consent to vote quickly and needs 60 votes to pass.

 

>>EU Fines Apple $2 Billion Over Music Streaming Service

(Brussels)  --  Apple is being slapped with a two-billion dollar fine by the European Union over music streaming apps.  An investigation into Apple started in 2020 after Spotify filed a complaint saying it and other music streaming provides were forced to a pay a 30-percent fee for purchases made using Apple's in-app payment system.  Meanwhile, Apple Music did not have to pay the fee.  The EU said Apple prevented Spotify and other rival music streamers from notifying iPhone users there were cheaper ways to subscribe to their services without going through Apple's app store.  Apple responded to the decision by saying it had failed "to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm."

 

>>New FAA Audit of Boeing Highlights Multiple Areas For Concern

(Washington, DC)  --  The FAA's audit of Boeing shows multiple issues with the manufacturer's production practices. This six-week probe is in response to a door plug that blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight on January 5th. In this audit, the FAA says it found "non-compliance issues in Boeing's manufacturing process control, parts handling and storage, and product control." In another separate report released prior to the door plug incident, officials also found "gaps" in the company's safety culture.  These gaps included worker fears about retaliation for reporting safety concerns. 

 

>>JetBlue, Spirit Agree To End Merger Deal

(Long Island City, NY)  --  Budget airlines JetBlue and Spirit are agreeing to terminate their planned merger.  This comes after a federal judge blocked the three-point-eight-billion dollar agreement.  The judge agreed with the Department of Justice's argument that the merger would reduce competition and hurt consumers.  The deal would have created the fifth-largest airline in the U.S.

 

>>Ford Sales Up In February With Increases In Electric, Hybrid Vehicles

(Dearborn, MI)  --  Increases in the sales of hybrid and electric vehicles in February led to an eleven-percent sales increase at Ford Motor Company.  The automaker reported sales of just over 174-thousand vehicles last month compared to 157-thousand for the same time one year ago.  Electric vehicle sales year over year were 80-percent higher while hybrid sales increased by 32-percent. The company reported sales of gas-powered vehicles rose by over seven-percent while sales of the Maverick pickup truck jumped by 73-percent compared to one year ago. Sales for the Lincoln Division were up by 38-percent in February.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Walgreens, CVS To Start Selling Abortion Pills This Month

(Undated)  --  The two largest pharmacy chains in the U.S. will begin selling abortion pills as soon as this month.  Walgreens and CVS will start selling Mifepristone at certain pharmacies in states where it's legal to do so.  According to separate statements, the two companies received certification from the FDA to dispense the pill.  CVS will start filling prescriptions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the next few weeks and will expand to more states where allowed by law.  Walgreens plans to fill prescriptions in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Illinois and Massachusetts.  The chains will not provide the pills by mail.  

 

EU Fines Apple $2 Billion Over Music Streaming Service

(Brussels)  --  Apple is being slapped with a two-billion dollar fine by the European Union over music streaming apps.  An investigation into Apple started in 2020 after Spotify filed a complaint saying it and other music streaming provides were forced to a pay a 30-percent fee for purchases made using Apple's in-app payment system.  Meanwhile, Apple Music did not have to pay the fee.  The EU said Apple prevented Spotify and other rival music streamers from notifying iPhone users there were cheaper ways to subscribe to their services without going through Apple's app store.  Apple responded to the decision by saying it had failed "to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm."

 

>>Florida Governor DeSantis Vetoes Bill Banning Social Media For Kids

(Tallahassee, FL)  --  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is vetoing legislation that would have banned social media accounts for kids under 16.  The Republican governor vetoed the bill on Friday, claiming Florida lawmakers were "about to produce a different, superior bill."  He said protecting children from the harms of social media is important, but so is "maintaining the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech."  DeSantis believes the upcoming new bill will deal with both of his concerns and strike a balance between regulation and parental input.

 

>>Laid Off Stellantis Workers Protest After Job Cuts

(Detroit, MI)  --  Over 500 temporary Stellantis employees in metro Detroit have been laid off this year and many of them hit the streets in protest over the weekend.  Since the new contract with Stellantis was ratified, around 18-hundred temporary workers have lost their jobs and 28-hundred have been converted to full-time work with the automaker. 

 

>>"Dune: Part 2" Rakes In $81.5 Million In Debut Weekend  

(Los Angeles, CA)  --  "Dune: Part 2" is providing a massive jolt to the box office.  The sequel made 81-and-a-half-million-dollars in its debut weekend in North American theaters.  It's the largest opening since "Five Nights at Freddy's in October.  "Bob Marley: One Love" came in second place with seven-point-four-million-dollars and has been a surprise success, making over 82-million domestically so far.  Hilary Swank's "Ordinary Angels" took third with three-point-eight-million, "Madame Web" finished fourth with three-point-two-million and the faith based TV series "The Chosen" ended up in fifth with three-point-one-million-dollars.
 

AM Business Notebook

>>Inflation Rises In Line With Expectations

(Washington, DC)  --  The latest inflation report from the shows it rose in line with expectations last month.  The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy costs increased point-four-percent in January.  It rose two-point-eight-percent compared to a year ago as predicted by economists.  The report from the Consumer Department comes as the Federal Reserves is considering whether or not to start lowering interest rates.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last month that he wants to see "more good data" before interest rates start to be cut.

 

>>Lawsuit Accuses Trump Of Trying To Dilute Shares In Media Company 

(Dover, DE)  --  A new lawsuit is accusing Donald Trump and his associates of trying to "drastically dilute" the value of stock shares in his social media company.  A suit filed Wednesday alleges that Trump Media and Technology Group engaged in "11th hour" maneuvering to dilute a minority stake in the company held by United Atlantic Ventures.  The suit comes ahead of a planned merger of Trump Media with a shell company that would then become publicly traded.  If shareholders in the shell company approve the merger in late March, Trump's stake in the media group could be valued at over three-billion dollars.

 

>>401k Plans See Double-Digit Percentage Gains 

(New York, NY)  -- The number of 401(k) millionaires is up eleven-and-half percent year over year. According to the latest data from Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest provider of 401(k) savings plans, the number of plans with a balance of a million-dollars-or-more increased 20-percent from the third quarter.  It comes as the average 401(k) balance ended last year up 14-percent from a year earlier to 118-thousand dollars.  

 

>>Tesla Ordered To Face Racial Bias Class Action Lawsuit

(Fremont, CA)  --  A judge in California is tentatively allowing a racial bias class action lawsuit against Tesla to move forward. The group of nearly six thousand Black workers claim the electric vehicle maker was aware of rampant race discrimination and harassment at its plant in Fremont, California, and did nothing about it. Tesla was first sued by an assembly line worker in 2017 who alleged Black employees were subjected to racial slurs, graffiti, and nooses hung at their workstations. Tesla maintains it does not tolerate workplace harassment, adding that workers engaged in such behavior have been fired. 

 

>>Oprah Winfrey Stepping Down From WeightWatchers Role

(New York, NY)  --  Oprah Winfrey is stepping down from her role at WeightWatchers.  Winfrey had served on its board of directors for nine years.  Since the announcement late Wednesday, shares of WeightWatchers have been down by as much as 25-percent.  Winfrey also pledged to donate her financial stake in the company to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  It all comes after Oprah said last year that she was taking weight loss drugs to maintain her weight.

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