Thursday, June 20, 2024

Business Highlights

by Associated Press

Wall Street closes out its 5th straight quarterly gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street closed out its fifth straight quarterly gain, continuing its comeback from a steep drop in early 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% Wednesday, bringing its advance over the past three months to 8.2% and 14.4% for the first half of the year. Optimism over the economy’s prospects as coronavirus restrictions continue to lift has sent the market to a series of record highs, including the third straight for the S&P 500. Trading Wednesday was relatively subdued as investors wait for the government’s monthly jobs report due out Friday.

US home contract signings see big rebound in May

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in May, a surprising rebound after months of cooling in the housing market, where lack of inventory has pushed prices to record levels. The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales rose 8% to 114.7 in last month, the highest reading for May since 2005. That’s up from 106.2 in April. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001. Contract signings, considered a barometer of purchases that will take place in the next one-to-two months, are 13.1% ahead of where they were one year ago.

Robinhood pays $70 million to settle range of allegations

NEW YORK (AP) — Robinhood Financial will pay a $57 million fine and return another $12.6 million to thousands of its customers to settle accusations of a wide range of supervisory failures, including that it it hurt customers by giving them misleading information and improperly allowing some to make riskier trades. It’s the largest financial penalty ever ordered by FINRA, which oversees brokerages. Robinhood neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the settlement announced Wednesday. In a blog post, Robinhood said it has improved support for its customers, including the ability to call in and talk with a service representative for some issues.

Microsoft exec: Targeting of Americans’ records ‘routine’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal law enforcement agencies secretly seek the data of Microsoft customers thousands of times a year. That’s according to congressional testimony being given Wednesday by a senior executive at the technology company. Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year. The relationship between law enforcement and Big Tech has attracted fresh scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation that federal prosecutors obtained phone records belonging not only to journalists but also to members of Congress and their staffers.

Key part of US residency program for investors set to expire

WASHINGTON (AP) — A program that has allowed wealthy foreign investors to obtain U.S. residency may be coming to a sputtering end. The program has long been the subject of complaints that it amounts to the wholesale selling of American citizenship. Congressional authorization for a key part of the immigrant investor program was set to expire Wednesday with dim prospects for renewal following the failure of a Senate bill that would have addressed long-standing concerns about inadequate regulation. The bipartisan bill would have created new regulations on a part of the program that allows money from overseas investors to be pooled into funds to finance large projects around the U.S., often high-end real estate.

Amazon asks for FTC head to step aside from antitrust probes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amazon is asking that the new head of the Federal Trade Commission step aside from antitrust investigations into the e-commerce giant. The company contends that FTC Chair Lina Khan’s past public criticism of Amazon’s market power makes it impossible for her to be impartial. Amazon on Wednesday petitioned the agency to remove Khan from taking part in current probes of the company’s market conduct. FTC officials declined comment on Amazon’s motion. Khan has been a fierce critic of tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple as well as Amazon. As counsel to a House Judiciary antitrust panel in 2019 and 2020, Khan played a key role in a sweeping investigation of Big Tech’s market power.

Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says that its carbon footprint grew 19% last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemic. The online shopping behemoth said activities tied to its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year — the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil. Amazon’s carbon footprint has risen every year since 2018, when it first disclosed its carbon footprint after employees pressured it to do so. The company said that while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 16% in 2020.

China’s Didi ride-hailing service jumps in Wall Street debut

BEIJING (AP) — Didi Global, a Chinese ride-hailing service, rose 16% shortly after making its U.S. stock market debut but ended the day up just 1%. The stock opened at $16.65 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s initial public offering of 288 million shares was priced at $14 a share. Didi said it aimed to spend 30% on technology development, another 30% to expand outside China and 20% on new products. Didi’s U.S. market debut comes a day after it posted a loss of $5.5 billion over the past three years, though the company also touted its global reach and investments in developing electric and self-driving cars.

The S&P 500 rose 5.70 points, or 0.1%, to 4,297.50. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 210.22 points, or 0.6%, to 34,502.51. The Nasdaq fell 24.38 points, or 0.2%, to 14,503.95. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 1.71 points, or 0.1%, to 2,310.55.

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