Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Business Highlights

by Associated Press

Wall Street closing sharply lower as tech sector takes hit

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street racked up more losses Wednesday as stocks closed broadly lower, wiping out the market’s gains from the day before. The S&P 500 fell 2.4% after giving up an earlier gain. The selling, which accelerated in the afternoon, was widespread, though technology stocks accounted for the biggest losses. The decline deepens the benchmark index’s September slide to 7.5% after a five-month rally. The market has been whiplashed by several shifts in momentum recently. This week alone, a Monday swoon brought the S&P 500 to the edge of a 10% drop from its record high set on Sept. 2, what Wall Street calls a correction.

Powell faces lawmakers’ skepticism on some Fed aid programs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday defended the Federal Reserve’s efforts to support the economy during the pandemic-induced recession from assertions that its programs bungled aspects of its response. A House subcommittee released a staff analysis that found that a program in which the Fed bought corporate bonds to try to support companies struggling in the pandemic included buying bonds from companies that laid off more than 1 million workers since March. The report concluded that 383 companies whose bonds were bought by the Fed had continued to pay dividends to shareholders, with 95 of those companies also laying off workers.

DOJ nearing antitrust action on Google; Trump eyes tech curb

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the Trump administration moves toward antitrust action against search giant Google, it’s campaigning to enlist support from sympathetic state attorneys general across the country. And President Donald Trump pushed his campaign against Big Tech on Wednesday, touting curbs on legal protections for social media platforms he denounces as biased against conservative views. The anticipated lawsuit against Google by the Justice Department could be the government’s biggest legal offensive to protect competition since the ground-breaking case against Microsoft almost 20 years ago. Lawmakers and consumer advocates accuse Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition.

New SUV is next step in VW’s post-scandal electric offensive

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen is taking its electric offense to the next level. The German automaker is unveiling a battery-powered SUV called the ID.4. It shows how the company has pivoted from its 2015 scandal over diesel cars that emitted illegal amounts of pollution in the U.S. Now it is emphasizing cars that don’t have any local emissions at all. The shift is driving by European Union rules limiting emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

California moves to end sales of new gas-powered cars

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will halt sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035. On Wednesday he ordered state regulators to come up with requirements to meet that goal. California would be the first state with such a rule, though Germany and France are among 15 other countries that have a similar requirement. His plan would not ban people from owning gas-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

Wells Fargo CEO apologizes for comments about diversity

NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf is apologizing for comments he made suggesting it is difficult to find qualified Black executives in the financial industry. Scharf said in a memo released this week that “there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from” in corporate America. The comments and similar statements made in a Zoom meeting led to an intense backlash in Washington and from advocacy groups. Scharf on Wednesday said in a prepared statement that the comments he made reflect “my own unconscious bias.”

Mars drops Uncle Ben’s, reveals new name for rice brand

NEW YORK (AP) — The Uncle Ben’s rice brand is changing its name to Ben’s Original. Parent company Mars Inc. is the latest company to drop a logo criticized as a racial stereotype. Mars said the Ben’s Original packaging will hit stores in 2021. Since the 1940s, the rice boxes have featured a white-haired Black man, sometimes with a bowtie. Critics have said the image evoke servitude. Global President for Mars Food Fiona Dawson says the company is still deciding on an image to accompany the new name. Pressure on brands to retire racial imagery have intensified amid the Black Lives Matter protests over police killings of unarmed African Americans. Aunt Jemima and Eskimo Pie are among other brands that are retiring racial logos.

eBay workers who sent spiders to couple to plead guilty

BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors say four former eBay employees have agreed to plead guilty to their roles in sending live spiders and cockroaches in an effort to intimidate a Massachusetts couple who ran an online newsletter critical of the auction site. The agreements to plead guilty Oct. 8 were announced Wednesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts. Court records show the four expected to plead guilty are Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Stephanie Stockwell and Veronica Zea. Seven former eBay employees in all have been charged in the case. All have since been fired.

The S&P 500 fell 78.65 points, or 2.4%, to 3,236.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 525.05 points, or 1.9%, to 26,763.13. The Nasdaq composite slid 330.65 points, or 3%, to 10,632.99. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 45.50 points, or 3%, to 1,451.46.

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