Business Highlights: FTX Executive’s Plea Deal, Inflation Metrics


Judge Secludes FTX Exec’s Plea Deal To Bring Founder To US

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge kept secret that two of Sam Bankman-Fried’s executive assistants were cooperating with investigators so the cryptocurrency entrepreneur would not be spooked and opposed extradition to the U.S. from the Bahamas . The decision by federal Judge Ronnie Abrams in Manhattan came out on Friday, alongside the release of the guilty pleas of top Bankman-Fried executives in the collapsing cryptocurrency empire. Bankman-Fried, 30, was brought to New York on Wednesday. A judge in Manhattan released him on $250 million bond to live with his parents in California until his trial. Abrams recuses herself from the case late Friday, saying her husband’s law firm advised FTX in 2021.


Fed’s inflation gauge falls to 5.5%

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of inflation closely watched by the Federal Reserve slowed last month, another sign that the long-running surge in consumer prices appears to be slowing. Prices rose 5.5% year-on-year in November, down from a revised 6.1% gain in October, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation rose 4.7% from the previous year. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.1 percent from October to November, following a 0.4 percent rise in the previous month. Core prices rose 0.2 percent.


Elon Musk tells investors he’s suspending Tesla stock sales

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Chief Executive Elon Musk said he won’t sell any more Tesla stock for 18 months or more, likely in an attempt to reassure the company. Shareholders of the electric car company, who have watched Tesla stock lose nearly half its value since then. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was completed in October. Last week, Musk dumped another $2.58 billion worth of Tesla shares, bringing him to nearly $23 billion worth of Tesla shares since he began building positions on Twitter in April. Tesla shares fell more than 1 percent on Friday to $123.74. On April 1, they’ll cost around $360.


Funding bill targets online sites amid retail theft concerns

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers scored a victory in a government-wide spending bill. The $1.7 trillion funding package includes legislation that would force online marketplaces such as Amazon and Facebook to verify high-volume sellers amid heightened concerns about retail theft. Brick-and-mortar retailers have been expressing concern about the amount of merchandise being stolen from their stores and subsequently sold online. The bill, called INFORM ACT, aims to crack down on the sale of these and other counterfeit goods. It will force online marketplaces to verify several types of information, such as bank account numbers, tax ID numbers and contact details, for sellers who make at least 200 unique sales and earn at least $5,000 in a given year.


Facebook parent Meta to pay $725 million to settle user data case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook’s parent company has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the world’s largest social media platform allowed the personal information of millions of its users to be provided to Cambridge Analytica. It’s a company that backed Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The terms of the settlement between Facebook and Instagram holding company Meta Platforms were disclosed in court documents filed late Thursday. It still needs to be approved by a judge at a hearing in San Francisco federal court scheduled for March.


Wall Street ends higher, but still ends third week of losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks on Wall Street closed higher after a string of mixed economic news. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Friday. The benchmark index was still down for a third straight week. A key measure of inflation continued to slow, but remained well above levels anyone would like to see. Also, growth in consumer spending slowed more than expected last month, but income was slightly stronger than expected. Markets are in a tricky position, with relatively solid economic data reducing the risk of a recession but increasing the threat of a Fed rate hike.


Microsoft to vie for US$68.7B Activision-Blizzard deal

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft is battling the Federal Trade Commission over whether the United States will block the tech giant’s planned acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard. Microsoft formally responded to the FTC’s lawsuit on Thursday, announcing that the $68.7 billion deal was an illegal acquisition and should stop. For years, Microsoft avoided the political backlash against its big tech peers Amazon, Google and Meta. But the software giant now appears to be clashing with U.S. regulators as President Joe Biden pushes to get tough on anti-competitive practices. The FTC said the merger could violate antitrust laws by crushing competitors in Microsoft’s Xbox game console and subscription businesses.


Germany formally suspends business guarantees with Iran

BERLIN (AP) — The German government said it is formally suspending export credits and investment guarantees to Iranian companies after authorities cracked down on protests. The economy ministry said on Friday that it had also suspended other “economic formats,” including talks on energy, given the “very serious situation in Iran.” Credit export guarantees protect German companies against losses when exports are not paid. Investment guarantees are provided to protect direct investments of German companies against political risks in the countries in which they are invested.


The S&P 500 rose 22.43 points, or 0.6%, to 3,844.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 176.44 points, or 0.5%, to 33,203.93. The Nasdaq added 21.74 points, or 0.2%, to 10,497.86. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 6.85 points, or 0.4%, to 1,760.93.

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