Business Briefs for 12-29-2022

Southwest Airlines flight cancellations continue to snowball

DALLAS (AP) — Families hoping to catch a Southwest Airlines flight after days of cancellations, missing luggage and missed family connections are suffering through another wave of scrubbed flights. Another 2,500 flights are being pulled from arrival and departure boards Wednesday and more are expected throughout the day. Exhausted travelers are seeking alternative routes with other airlines, on the ground by rental car or train, or they’ve simply given up. According to the FlightAware tracking service, more than 91% of all canceled flights in the U.S. early Wednesday were from Southwest, which has been unable to recover from ferocious winter storms that raked large swaths of the country over the weekend.

Rocky ride: Tesla stock on pace for worst year ever

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Owning Tesla stock this year has been anything but a smooth ride for investors. Shares in the electric vehicle maker are down nearly 70% since the start of the year, on pace to finish in the bottom five biggest decliners among S&P 500 stocks. By comparison, the benchmark index is down about 20%. While Tesla has continued to grow its profits, signs of softening demand and heightened competition have investors increasingly worried. Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has stoked concerns on Wall Street that the social media company is taking too much of the billionaire’s attention, and possibly offending loyal Tesla customers.

Iraq prime minister orders crackdown on trademark violations

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s prime minister has ordered a crackdown on local businesses operating under the names of international brands without legal permission. That’s according to a statement from the premier’s office on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported last week that Iraq has become a major center of trademark violations and piracy. In one prominent example, a chain of fake Starbucks has been operating under the international coffee company’s logo in Baghdad. Starbucks filed a lawsuit in an attempt to shut down the trademark violation, but the case was halted after the owner allegedly threatened lawyers hired by the coffee house.

EPA investigating Colorado for discriminatory air pollution

DENVER (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether Colorado’s regulation of air pollution from industrial facilities discriminates against Hispanic residents and other racial minorities, according to a letter released by the agency Wednesday. Advocates say the Suncor refinery too often malfunctions, spiking emissions. They say Colorado rarely denies permits to polluters, even in areas where harmful ozone already exceeds federal standards. The EPA is making use of the Civil Rights Act for the investigation.

Stocks opening higher on Wall St.; Job market remains strong

BANGKOK (AP) — Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Thursday in a broad rally led by the IT and communications sectors. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are up over 1% shortly after the open in New York, but remain on track for a losing month with one day remaining in the worst year for stock investors since 2008. Tesla, Netflix and Paramount are leading the S&P’s gainers early on. New data shows the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose modestly last week, a sign that the labor market remains strong. Treasury yields slipped.

Applications for US unemployment aid rose slightly last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose modestly last week, the latest sign that the labor market remains strong despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool the economy and hiring. Applications for unemployment aid for the week ending Dec. 24 climbed 9,000 to 225,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Unemployment benefit applications are a proxy for layoffs, and are being closely monitored by economists as the Fed has rapidly raised interest rates in an effort to cool job growth and inflation. Should the Fed’s rate hikes cause a recession, as many economists fear, a jump in layoffs and unemployment claims would be an early sign.

Nord Stream 2 pipeline firm gets 6-month stay of bankruptcy

BERLIN (AP) — A Swiss court has granted a six-month “stay of bankruptcy” to the operating company for the never-opened Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline was built to bring Russian gas to Germany but put on ice shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February. A regional court in the Swiss canton (state) of Zug extended the stay from Jan. 10 through July 10 by, according to a notice published Wednesday in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. The company, Nord Stream 2 AG, is a subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom but based in Zug. Its court-appointed administrator had sought the extension. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government halted the certification process for the pipeline on Feb. 22.

Brazil’s Lula picks Amazon defender for environment minister

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Amazon activist Marina Silva has announced that she has been appointed as environment minister of Brazil by President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Silva announced her appointment Thursday in a message to supporters. Lula scheduled a news conference for later Thursday morning to announce the appointments. It’s the reaapointment of a woman who carried Brazil’s most effective strategy for reducing deforestation. It’s also a reunion of two old colleagues who first worked together two decades ago during Lula’s first presidency. The main challenge remains the same: Stop rampant deforestation in the world´s largest rainforest. Lula has promised to end all deforestation by 2030. In Silva, he’ll have a strong partner for trying to do so.

House committee expected to release Trump’s taxes Friday

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s tax returns are expected to be released by the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday. That’s according to a congressional aide, who was not authorized to discuss the timing of the release publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Friday is the next time the House is scheduled to meet for a routine pro forma session. The Democratic-controlled committee voted last week to release Trump’s returns, with some redactions of sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and contact information. The new Congress, with Republicans in control of the House, begins Jan. 3.

Bangladesh opens first metro service to ease Dhaka traffic

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh’s prime minister has inaugurated the country’s first metro rail service aimed at easing notorious traffic jams in capital Dhaka. Sheikh Hasina held a ceremony for a limited version of the service with the Japanese ambassador and the chief representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency. Japan funded the project with a $2.8 billion price tag. Dhaka is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with over 20 million people who struggle to commute on clogged roads. According to a research by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, the economy in Dhaka loses about $3 billion each year in lost work time due to traffic jams. The metro is expected to grow to over 100 stations and six lines crisscrossing the city by 2030.

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