Business Briefs for 12-09-2022

Ex-FTX CEO Bankman-Fried says he will testify to Congress

The former CEO of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX says he is willing to testify to Congress next week. But he says he will be limited in what he can say and that he “won’t be as helpful” as he’d like to be. Sam Bankman-Fried tweeted in response to a tweet from House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, who on Monday requested that Bankman-Fried attend next week’s hearings over the collapse of FTX. Waters said in a series of tweets to Bankman-Fried that based on multiple media interviews since FTX collapsed that it was “clear to us that the information you have thus far is sufficient for testimony.”

Wholesale inflation in US further slowed in November to 7.4%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wholesale prices in the United States rose 7.4% in November from a year earlier, a fifth straight slowdown and a hopeful sign that inflation pressures across the economy are continuing to cool. The latest year-over-year figure was down from 8% in October and from a recent peak of 11.7% in March. On a monthly basis, the U.S. producer price index, which measures costs before they reach consumers, rose 0.3% from October to November for the third straight month. Rising prices are still straining Americans’ finances. Yet several emerging trends have combined to slow inflation from the four-decade peak it reached during the summer.

Helping Ukraine is ‘self-preservation,’ finance chief says

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ukraine’s finance minister says crucial Western financial aid is “not charity” but “self-preservation” as donor countries share the price of turning back Russian aggression. Serhiy Marchenko told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that his country is protecting freedom and democracy far beyond its borders. He said he believes EU officials will resolve their dispute with Hungary that is holding up 18 billion euros in loans and would cover a large part of Ukraine’s looming budget gap. That outside financing is needed to avoid printing money at the central bank to cover basic needs like pensions, a practice that risks fueling already painful inflation.

Wall Street drifts as US inflation slows but remains hot

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is drifting after a report showed inflation is slowing, though not quite as much as hoped. The S&P 500 was virtually unchanged Friday after swinging between a very small loss and gain. Stocks around the world had earlier weakened after a U.S. government report showed prices getting paid at the wholesale level were 7.4% higher in November than a year earlier. That’s a slowdown from October’s inflation rate but still worse than economists expected. High inflation, along with the Federal Reserve’s economy-crunching response to it, have been the main reasons for the stock market’s painful tumble this year.

US sanctions companies for rights abuses in Chinese waters

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it’s sanctioning a group of companies and people linked to illegal fishing operations and human rights abuses in Chinese waters. One company is accused of maintaining working conditions so dangerous that five workers died after 13 months at sea, with three of the workers’ bodies dumped into the ocean rather than repatriated to their homes. The United States accuses the company of illegally shipping endangered species and abusing crew members through its subsidiaries and fleet of over 100 fishing boats. Illegal unreported fishing is associated with distant water fishing, where boats fish in other countries’ or international waters. China’s distant water fishing fleet is the largest in the world.

Japan to jointly develop new fighter jet with UK, Italy

TOKYO (AP) — Japan has announced it will jointly develop its next-generation fighter jet with the U.K. and Italy. Tokyo is looking to expand defense cooperation beyond its traditional ally, the United States. The Mitsubishi F-X fighter jet, which Japan plans to deploy in 2035, will replace its aging fleet of Mitsubishi F-2 jets that it developed with the United States. The nations will merge their current plans for development of next-generation planes — the F-X and Britain’s Tempest, which is being developed with Italy. Japan has expanded defense partnerships in the Indo-Pacific and Europe. Japan and Australia also held security talks among their foreign and defense ministers later Friday.

Fight to curb food waste increasingly turns to science

Hate mealy apples and soggy french fries? Science can help. Food companies are increasingly turning to chemistry and physics to tackle the problem of food waste. There are spray-on peels and chemically-enhanced sachets that can slow the ripening process in fruit and digital sensors that can tell when meat is safe to consume. Packets affixed to the top of a takeout box use thermodynamics to keep fries crispy. Experts say growing awareness of food waste has led to an uptick in efforts to mitigate it. More than one-third of food produced in the U.S. currently goes uneaten; much of that winds up in landfills.

France, Spain, Portugal to build hydrogen pipeline by 2030

ALICANTE, Spain (AP) — Spain, France and Portugal have agreed to build a major undersea pipeline to transport hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula to France and Europe by 2030. The pipeline is aimed at making the European Union more energy independent, a goal expedited by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that precipitated an energy crisis. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says the pipeline, dubbed H2Med, will be able to carry some 2 million tons of hydrogen to France annually, or 10% of the EU´s estimated hydrogen needs. The project is expected to cost 2.5 billion euros ($2.6 billion). The announcement was made after a meeting Friday between Sánchez, his French and Portuguese counterparts and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle is stepping down

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade publisher, is stepping down. Markus Dohle’s decision is effective at the end of the year. It comes just weeks after a federal judge blocked the company’s attempt to buy rival Simon & Schuster. Dohle is also leaving his seat on the Bertelsmann executive board. The Bertelsmann announcement said his departure was made at “his own request and on the best of mutual terms.” Dohle will be succeeded, on an interim basis, by Nihar Malaviya, 48, currently president and COO of Penguin Random House.

France’s TotalEnergies pulls out of Russian gas producer

PARIS (AP) — French energy giant TotalEnergies says it will walk away from its stake in Russian natural gas producer Novatek and take a $3.7 billion loss. The company has come under criticism for pursuing some of its activities in Russia amid the war in Ukraine. TotalEnergies said Friday it will no longer account for its 19.4% ownership interest in Novatek. It said that in line with its “principles of conduct” published on March 22, it “has gradually started to withdraw from its Russian assets while ensuring that it continues to supply gas to Europe.” Environmental group Greenpeace France says the announcement comes “very late” and denounced TotalEnergies’ continuing operations in Russia.

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