Thursday, May 30, 2024

Business Briefs for 12-14-2022

by Associated Press

Fed set to extend inflation fight with 7th rate hike of 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — After four straight three-quarter-point interest rate hikes, the Federal Reserve is set to announce a smaller half-point increase in its key rate Wednesday, a first step toward dialing back its efforts to combat inflation. At the same time, the Fed is expected to signal that it plans more hikes next year than it had previously forecast to try to conquer the worst inflation bout in four decades. And most economists think Chair Jerome Powell will stress that the Fed will likely keep its benchmark rate at its high point through next year, even after the hikes have ended.

Company holiday parties are back — but with some restraint

NEW YORK (AP) — Company holiday parties are making a comeback. A survey of 252 U.S.-based companies by hiring firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds that more than 57% of companies are planning an in-person holiday party this year. While still considerably fewer than the 75% of companies that threw parties in 2019, it’s a big leap from 26% in 2021 and 5% in 2020. However, many celebrations will be smaller and more intimate as companies try to accommodate workforces that have become increasingly remote and far-flung. Virtual wine pairings and secret Santa exchanges seem to be out. But many companies are opting for toned-down lunches or activities from spas to pickleball to lure out office workers still working from home for much of the week.

UK inflation eases but little relief at near 40-year high

LONDON (AP) — U.K. inflation has eased in November but is still stuck near a 40-year high. The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that consumer prices rose 10.7% in the 12 months through November, down from 11.1% in October. The figures offer little relief for consumers as the high cost of food and energy erodes spending power. Inflation is stubbornly high across Europe, where it slowed in the 19 countries that use the euro last month but was still a painful 10%. That contrasts with the U.S., where the inflation rate dropped to 7.1% in November from a recent peak of 9.1% in June.

FTX founder charged in scheme to defraud crypto investors

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government charged Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, with a host of financial crimes on Tuesday. Federal prosecutors allege he intentionally deceived customers and investors to enrich himself and others, while playing a central role in FTX’s multibillion-dollar collapse. The indictment says that beginning in 2019 Bankman-Fried devised “a scheme and artifice to defraud” FTX’s customers and investors, diverting their money to pay expenses and debts at his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research, and to make lavish real estate purchases and large political donations. Separately, the SEC filed civil charges against Bankman-Fried, alleging he defrauded investors and used proceeds to buy real estate for himself and his family.

New FTX CEO says lax oversight, bad decisions caused failure

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new CEO of FTX says the founder of the failed cryptocurrency exchange helped 1,500 Bahamian investors remove $100 million from their accounts while other customers around the world were locked out of the exchange. John Ray III called FTX’s collapse one of the worst business failures he has seen _ even worse than Enron, which he helped restructure two decades ago. Notably absent from the hearing before the House Financial Services Committee was FTX’s founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who was arrested in the Bahamas just hours before he was scheduled to testify and now faces criminal and civil charges in the U.S.

US stocks gain ground ahead of last Fed meeting of the year

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose on Wall Street as markets hold onto hope that the Federal Reserve is ready to ease back slightly on its campaign to slow the economy with high interest rates. The Fed’s latest decision on rates is due out later Wednesday. It’s widely expected to raise its benchmark rate by half a percentage point, still double the usual move but not as huge as the last four hikes it has made, which were all three-quarters of a percentage point. The S&P 500 was up 0.5%. The Dow and the Nasdaq also rose.

A slowdown in US inflation eases some pressure on households

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation in the United States slowed again last month in the latest sign that price increases are cooling despite the pressures they continue to inflict on American households. Consumer prices rose 7.1% in November from a year ago, the government said Tuesday. That was down sharply from 7.7% in October and a recent peak of 9.1% in June. It was the fifth straight slowdown. Measured from month to month, which gives a more up-to-minute snapshot, the consumer price index inched up just 0.1%. All told, the latest figures provided the strongest evidence to date that inflation in the United States is steadily slowing from the price acceleration that first struck about 18 months ago.

EXPLAINER: Why fusion could be a clean-energy breakthrough

A major advance in fusion research announced in Washington on Tuesday was decades in coming. Scientists say that for the first time, they’ve been able to engineer a reaction that produced more power than was used to ignite it. The breakthrough at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California used powerful lasers focusing enormous energy on a tiny capsule filled with fuel. But researchers and outside experts acknowledge it will likely take decades more before fusion might one day be used to produce nearly limitless carbon-free energy.

HSBC updates climate policy to stop funding new oil and gas

British banking giant HSBC announced Wednesday it will no longer finance new oil and gas fields as part of its updated climate strategy. But the bank added it would still give finance to current projects “in line with current demand.” It would also continue to provide finance and advisory services to energy sector clients but will assess the companies’ plans to transition to clean energy. Climate campaigners welcomed the moved saying HSBC provided a new baseline for other major banks but urged the bank to go further.

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