Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Business Highlights: AMC soars, Fed sees faster growth

by Associated Press

AMC embraces meme stock status, share price nearly doubles

NEW YORK (AP) — AMC Entertainment is looking to keep in closer contact with some of its newer investors, as the movie theater chain embraces its meme stock popularity. AMC said Wednesday that it’s launching AMC Investor Connect, an initiative that will put the company in direct communication with its individual shareholders to keep them up to date about important company information and provide them with special offers including invitations to special screenings and a free large popcorn at a movie this summer. AMC’s retail shareholder base has grown to more than 3 million owners over the last several months. Its stock surged 95% on Wednesday.

Fed survey sees faster growth despite supply-chain problems

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is reporting that that the U.S. economy grew at a somewhat faster pace in April and May despite disruptions that choked supplies to the nations manufacturers. The Fed’s latest survey of economic conditions around the nation published Wednesday showed that several of the Fed’s districts reported positive effects on the economy from increased vaccination rates and relaxed social distancing measures. But offsetting those gains were economic headwinds coming from supply-chain problems. The Fed’s report, known as the beige book, is based on surveys conducted by the Fed’s 12 regional banks. The information will form the basis of discussion when Fed policymakers meet on June 15-16 to decide the future course of interest rates.

Largest meat producer getting back online after cyberattack

DETROIT (AP) — The world’s largest meat processing company has resumed most production after a weekend cyberattack, but experts say the vulnerabilities exposed by this attack and others are far from resolved. A person familiar with the investigation says JBS notified the U.S. government the ransom demand came from the ransomware gang REvil, which is believed to operate in Russia. Ransomware expert Allan Liska says the attack on JBS was the largest yet on a food manufacturer. But he said at least 40 food companies have been targeted by hackers over the last year, including brewer Molson Coors and E & J Gallo Winery.

Even after Madoff’s death, work to unwind epic fraud goes on

NEW YORK (AP) — Days after Bernard Madoff confessed to the biggest Ponzi scheme in Wall Street history, a judge hired a trustee to sift through the con man’s books and see how much money he could salvage for victims of the fraud. Even after Madoff’s recent death in April, that effort to untangle the web of deceit continues. To date, the trustee has returned more than $14.5 billion to its rightful owners by forcing people who made money with Madoff to give up those ill-gotten gains. The cash has allowed some of Madoff’s biggest losers to put their lives back together, but few have emerged unscathed.

National Enquirer owner fined for illegal Trump campaign aid

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal election watchdog fined the publisher of the National Enquirer $187,500 for a payment it made to keep under wraps a story about former President Donald Trump’s alleged affair with a former Playboy model. The FEC fined A360 Media, formerly known as American Media, for paying Karen McDougal $150,000 in August 2016, saying the payment that was made to keep her story from becoming public before the presidential election in concert with an agent of Trump was an illegal campaign contribution. A message left for the publisher through its website was not returned.

Ally Bank ends all overdraft fees, first large bank to do so

NEW YORK (AP) — Ally Financial is ending overdraft fees entirely on all of its bank products, becoming the first large bank to end overdraft fees across its entire business. It’s a major move by Ally, the 18th largest bank in the country by size, and for the industry, which has been reliant on overdraft fees for decades to boost their profits, often at the expense of poorer Americans who couldn’t afford to pay such fees in the first place. Critics of the practice often cite what they call the $38 cup of coffee, where a bank customer uses a debit card to buy a coffee, overdrafts, and ends up paying a $35 fee on top of the $3 drink.

Fed to sell off assets from an emergency loan program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says it will start selling off the holdings of one of its emergency lending programs created last year to stabilize financial markets at the height of the pandemic crisis. The Fed announced Wednesday it will begin winding down the portfolio of the Secondary Corporate Credit Facility, which at the close of last year held $14.2 billion in assets. The corporate facility was one of a number of emergency lending facilities closed on Dec. 31 in a decision by then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Challengers unseat third Exxon board member in climate fight

NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil shareholders have unseated third board member in their bid to force the oil giant to deal more aggressively with climate change. Texas-based Exxon said Wednesday three candidates nominated by a dissident group of shareholders had been elected to its board of directors. Preliminary tallies last week had two of the challengers winning seats. Nine of the 12-member board supported by Exxon were re-elected. The ouster of the three Exxon board members is another blow as fossil fuel companies face growing pressure to re-focus their businesses. The hedge fund Engine No. 1 had asserted Exxon’s board was ill-equipped to handle the changing energy sector. The alternative slate of directors had the support of some of the largest money managers in the world.

The S&P 500 rose 6.08 points, or 0.1%, to 4,208.12. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 25.07 points, or 0.1%, to 34,600.38. The Nasdaq tacked on 19.85 points, or 0.1%, to 13,756.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 3.09 points, or 0.1%, to 2,297.83.

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