Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Business Highlights: Facebook lawsuits, rising gas prices

by Associated Press

Judge dismisses gov’t antitrust lawsuits against Facebook

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general, dealing a significant blow to attempts by regulators to rein in tech giants. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly. The ruling dismisses the complaint but not the case, meaning the FTC could refile another complaint. The U.S. government and 48 states and districts sued Facebook in December 2020, accusing the tech giant of abusing its market power to crush smaller competitors.

Gas prices rise again, no sign of letting up this summer

NEW YORK (AP) — After a brief dip, gas prices in the U.S. are on the rise again, hitting an average $3.09 per gallon. That’s according to the fuel price tracking app GasBuddy. The national average is now almost 5 cents higher than a month ago and 92 cents higher than one year ago. For consumers, higher gasoline prices are one element of an inflationary mix they’ve encountered as the economy recovers from the pandemic. Rising prices for commodities and materials have also boosted prices for such items as lumber, diapers and meat and poultry. The bad news: Gas prices could go higher this summer before heading lower.

Pandemic-era Mobile World Congress tech fair kicks off

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Mobile World Congress is kicking off in Barcelona with scaled-back attendance and beefed-up health and safety measures. Mobile World is a major wireless technology trade fair that was canceled at the last minute last year because of COVID-19 concerns. This year it’s one of the few big trade shows to attempt a comeback amid the ongoing pandemic. Organizers expect 25,000 to 30,000 people to attend in person, a fraction of the more than 100,000 visitors in recent years. Companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Intel, Sony and Qualcomm are staying away while South Korea’s Samsung, the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, is only holding a virtual device launch.

Honda changing course, will build its own electric vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is building two electric SUVs for Honda to sell in North America in 2024, but the Japanese automaker plans to manufacture them on its own after that. Honda says the GM-made vehicles will have Honda bodies, interiors and suspensions and will be unique to the Honda and Acura brands. The company announced Monday that the Honda will be called the Prologue. It plans a series of electric vehicles this decade for North America, with most made at Honda plants. In April, the company said it plans to phase out all of its gasoline-powered vehicles in North America by 2040.

Trump Org lawyers make last pitch against prosecution

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for the Trump Organization met again Monday with prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in a last bid to forestall a potential indictment stemming from a long-running investigation into the former president’s company. Trump Organization lawyer Ron Fischetti told The Associated Press the meeting came as a grand jury nears a potential vote on a case involving fringe benefits the company paid to employees, like use of company cars and apartments. He said prosecutors have told him Trump himself will not be charged at this time but that the investigation is continuing. Trump and his company have denied wrongdoing.

Juul to pay $40M in N. Carolina teen vaping suit settlement

DURHAM N.C. (AP) — Electronic cigarette giant Juul Labs Inc. will pay $40 million to North Carolina and take more action to prevent underage use and sales. That’s according to a landmark legal settlement announced on Monday after years of accusations that the company had fueled an explosion in teen vaping. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein had accused Juul of unfair and deceptive marketing practices targeting young people to use it vaping products, which delivers addictive nicotine. Juul promises not to advertise to anyone under 21 in North Carolina and says it will put restrictions in place for sales both online and at brick-and-mortal retailers.

Tech gains nudge S&P 500, Nasdaq further into record heights

NEW YORK (AP) — Most U.S. stocks edged lower on Monday, but strength for several big tech companies nudged indexes a bit further into record heights. The S&P 500 added 0.2% after bouncing between small gains and losses through the morning. The index is coming off its best week since February as optimism builds about the strengthening economy and expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low for a while longer. Facebook was among the tech winners, gaining 4.2% after a federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state attorneys general.

New UAW president will face huge post-pandemic challenges

DETROIT (AP) — Ray Curry is taking over leadership of the United Auto Workers perhaps the most critical juncture in the union’s history. The UAW’s International Executive Board on Monday named Curry as union president, replacing Rory Gamble, who retires on Wednesday. Gamble led the 397,000-member union through a bribery and embezzlement scandal and the coronavirus pandemic, during which the union agreed to keep auto factories running with numerous safety precautions. He was the union’s first Black president, and the 55-year-old Curry will be the second. There are questions about safety protocols as the coronavirus pandemic wanes, and about shortages of critical parts such as computer chips that have crimped auto production.

The S&P 500 rose 9.91 points, or 0.2%, to 4,290.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 150.57 points, or 0.4%, to 34,283.27. The Nasdaq gained 140.12 points, or 1%, to 14,500.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies slipped 12.06 points, or 0.5%, to 2,322.34.

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