Saturday, April 20, 2024

Business Highlights

by Associated Press

Fed keeps key rate near zero, sees inflation as ‘transitory’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is keeping its ultra-low interest rate policies in place, a sign that it wants to see more evidence of a strengthening economic recovery before it would consider easing its support. The Fed says the economy and job market have “strengthened,” and while inflation has risen, Fed policymakers ascribed the increase to temporary factors. The Fed left its benchmark short-term rate near zero to help keep loan rates down to encourage borrowing and spending. It also said in a statement after its latest policy meeting that it would keep buying $120 billion in bonds each month to try to keep longer-term borrowing rates low.

Apple profit soars in latest quarter on higher iPhone sales

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Demand for the iPhone led Apple’s profits to more than double in the January-March period as the tech giant continued to capitalize on smartphone addiction. Profit and revenue topped analyst expectations. The iPhone, Apple’s crown jewel, hadn’t been selling quite as well in the past few years as people held on to their existing models for longer. But the release of four iPhone 12 models last fall appears to have unleashed purchases. Sales of the iPhone climbed 66% on top of a holiday-season quarter when iPhone sales jumped 17%. The stock rose 3% in aftermarket trading.

EU lawmakers approve post-Brexit trade treaty

BRUSSELS (AP) — European lawmakers have approved the final ratification of the post-Brexit trade deal between the European Union and the United Kingdom, nearly five years after Britain decided to leave the bloc. The deal had already been ratified by the U.K. Parliament and conditionally came into force pending the European Parliament’s approval. Lawmakers at the European Parliament voted 660-5 with 32 abstentions to endorse the free trade agreement. Voting took place Tuesday but results were not announced until Wednesday morning. EU legislators said in a resolution accompanying their consent that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU was a “historic mistake, as no third country can enjoy the same benefits as an EU member.”

Facebook reports soaring quarterly ad revenue, stock jumps

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook’s stock is up after the social media giant reported stronger-than-expected results for the first quarter thanks to soaring ad revenue. The social media giant said Wednesday it earned $9.5 billion, or $3.30 per share, in the January-March period. That’s up 94% from $4.9 billion, or $1.71 per share, a year earlier. Facebook had 2.85 billion monthly users, on average, in March. That’s up 10% from a year earlier. Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company rose nearly 6 % in after-hours trading.

Ford posts surprise $3.26B 1Q profit; chip shortage looms

DETROIT (AP) — Ford posted a surprising $3.26 billion profit in the first quarter, but the company says a worsening global computer chip shortage could cut its production in half in the current quarter. Excluding non-recurring items, the automaker says it made 89 cents per share from January through March, trouncing Wall Street estimates of 22 cents per share. Chief Financial Officer John Lawler attributed the large profit to years of restructuring to make the company leaner, as well as higher prices for its vehicles due to tight inventories. He says the second quarter should be the low point for the chip shortage.

Boeing posts 1Q loss, takes a hit on Air Force One work

Boeing is posting another loss as the pandemic continues to undercut demand for new planes and the company deals with more problems around its 737 Max jetliner. Boeing Co. said Wednesday it lost $537 million in the first quarter. That’s less than the company lost a year ago but still more than analysts expected. Since the quarter ended, Boeing has suffered a new setback with its 737 Max jetliners, more than 100 of which are now parked again because of issues around electrical grounding of some parts. CEO David Calhoun says 2021 is an “inflection point” for Boeing, with distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 picking up and helping the airline industry.

US government taking creative steps to counter cyberthreats

WASHINGTON (AP) — An FBI operation gave law enforcement remote access to hundreds of computers to counter a massive hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software. Now, the Justice Department’s top national security official says that kind of tool is likely to be deployed “judiciously” in the future as the government develops a framework for the tool’s use. The department had announced earlier this month that it had obtained a warrant from a federal judge in an operation involving the removal of malicious coding that gives hackers a foothold into networks. The government removed these web shells from hundreds of vulnerable computers affected by a hack that Microsoft has blamed on a group operating in China.

Sony’s profit zooms to record on video games, ‘Demon Slayer’

TOKYO (AP) — Sony’s January-March profit zoomed eight-fold to 107 billion yen, or $982 million from a year earlier, as people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic turned to the Japanese electronics and entertainment company’s video games and other visual content. Sony Corp. reported a record profit of 1.17 trillion yen, or about $11 billion, for the fiscal year ended that ended March 31, roughly doubling from the previous fiscal year. The popularity of the “Demon Slayer” animation film also helped, along with solid sales in mobile game applications and digital content. Sony said it has sold 7.8 million PlayStation 5 game consoles globally.

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