Business Highlights: Battery plants, Facebook hires

Automakers step up pace on electric vehicle battery plants

DETROIT (AP) — Global automakers are stepping up the pace when it comes to building factories to prepare for what many believe will be a fast-moving transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. On Monday, Toyota, Stellantis, Foxconn, Ford and Volvo all made announcements about electric vehicle component or assembly plants, or plans to raise capital to fund the transition. The moves are ahead of demand at the moment, but forecasters predict that the share of electric vehicles will rise dramatically as more battery-electric models are rolled out as governments increase requirements for zero-emissions vehicles to fight climate change. At present, only about 4.8% of the roughly 80 million new vehicles sold globally run solely on electricity, according to LMC Automotive.


Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in Europe to build ‘metaverse’

LONDON (AP) — Facebook says it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to work on a new computing platform. The company said in a blog post Sunday that those high-skilled workers will help build “the metaverse,” a futuristic notion for connecting people online that uses augmented and virtual reality. Facebook executives have been touting the metaverse as the next big thing, though their track record is spotty on predicting future trends and it could raise questions about privacy and the social platform gaining more control in people’s lives. Facebook also is contending with antitrust crackdowns, the testimony of a whistleblowing ex-employee and concerns about how it handles misinformation.


Bitcoin investing could get boost from exchange-traded fund

NEW YORK (AP) — In the latest milestone for Bitcoin, the country’s first exchange-traded fund linked to the most popular digital currency should become available to investors. The ETF from ProShares, with the ticker symbol “BITO,” is expected to begin trading Tuesday, barring any opposition from regulators. The fund won’t invest directly in Bitcoin itself. Instead, it will focus on futures related to Bitcoin, a market that’s overseen by U.S. regulators and can be complicated in its own right. That means investors need to be particularly aware of what they’re buying, and how it’s likely to perform.


Industrial production falls 1.3% as effects from Ida linger

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The Federal Reserve reported Monday that U.S. industrial production fell 1.3% in September, much more than expected as the lingering effects of Hurricane Ida continue to stymie activity. It was the worst showing since February’s 3.1% decline, when severe winter storms hammered much of the country. Nearly half, or 0.6% of the overall decline in total industrial production was attributable to the hurricane. The Fed revised August’s reading down from a 0.4% gain to a 0.1% decline. Industrial production covers manufacturing, utilities and mining.


GameStop mania severely tested market system, regulator says

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market certainly shook when hundreds of thousands of regular people suddenly piled into GameStop early this year, driving its price to heights that shocked professional investors. But it didn’t break. That’s one of the takeaways from a report by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s staff released Monday about January’s “meme-stock” mania. As GameStop shot from $39 to $347 in just a week, some of the stock market’s plumbing began creaking, but the report indicated the market’s basic systems remain sound. The surge also laid bare how much power is being wielded by a new generation of investors armed with apps on their phones.


Microsoft says it warned Bill Gates about flirting in 2008

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft has confirmed that executives in 2008 warned Bill Gates to stop sending flirtatious emails to a female employee but dropped the matter after he told them he would stop. The Wall Street Journal was first to report that Brad Smith, then Microsoft’s general counsel and now its president and vice chair, and another executive met with Gates after the company discovered inappropriate emails to a midlevel employee. The newspaper reported that Gates didn’t deny the exchanges, and members of the Microsoft board who were briefed on them declined to take further action. Gates’ private office is calling the claims false.


Lawmakers give Amazon ‘final chance’ to clear up testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) — House lawmakers are threatening to seek a criminal investigation of Amazon, saying the tech giant has a “final chance” to correct previous testimony by executives on its competition practices. They sent a letter to Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy, marking an escalation in a bipartisan battle against Amazon by the House Judiciary Committee panel that has investigated the market dominance of Big Tech. The letter says the panel was considering referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. It accuses Amazon of at least misleading Congress and possibly outright lying.


Contract talks resume between Deere and its striking workers

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Contract talks between Deere & Co. and its 10,000 striking workers have resumed, but it wasn’t immediately clear how far apart the two sides remain. The strike began last Thursday after union members overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract that would have delivered 5% raises to some workers and 6% raises to others depending on their positions in the factory. The last major strike at the maker of agricultural and construction equipment came in 1986. The contracts under negotiation cover 14 Deere plants, including seven in Iowa, four in Illinois and one each in Kansas, Colorado and Georgia.


The S&P 500 gained 15.09 points, or 0.3%, to 4,486.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36.15 points, or 0.1%, to 35,258.61. The Nasdaq added 124.47 points, or 0.8%, to 15,021.81. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.19 points, or 0.1%, to 2,267.84.

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