Thursday, May 30, 2024

AP morning business news brief – Feb. 7, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard.” That’s the name the company’s given to its conversational service that’s apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Monday that Bard initially will be available just to a group of “trusted testers” before being widely released later this year. Google’s chatbot is supposed to be able to explain complex subjects such as outer space discoveries in terms simple enough for a child to understand. It also claims it can perform other helpful tasks, such as coming up with lunch ideas based on what’s left in the refrigerator.

UK energy company BP’s profits double to $27.7 billion

LONDON (AP) — British energy firm BP has reported record annual earnings amid growing calls for the U.K. government to boost taxes on companies profiting from the high price of oil and natural gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The London-based company said Tuesday that underlying replacement cost profit jumped to $27.7 billion in 2022 from $12.8 billion a year earlier. Last year’s figure beat the $26.8 billion BP earned in 2008 when tensions in Iran and Nigeria pushed world oil prices to more than $147 a barrel. BP also increased its quarterly dividend by 10% and announced plans to buy back $2.75 billion of stock from shareholders.

French pension reform plan triggers new strikes, protests

PARIS (AP) — Public transport, schools and electricity supplies have been disrupted in France as tens of thousands of demonstrators are taking to the streets for a third round of nationwide strikes and protests against planned pension reforms. Rail operator SNCF said train traffic was severely disrupted across the country. The demonstrations on Tuesday came a day after French lawmakers began debating a pension bill that would raise the minimum retirement from 62 to 64 by 2030. People marched in Paris as well as the cities of Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes, and elsewhere across the country.

Wall Street drifts as stocks take a pause after choppy ride

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting on Wall Street amid uncertainty about where interest rates and inflation are heading. The S&P 500 was 0.2% lower in Tuesday morning trading. The Dow was also down, while the Nasdaq was slightly higher. Stocks have pulled back recently, shaving off some of their strong start to the year. The market had rallied powerfully on hopes cooling inflation could get the Federal Reserve to take it easier on interest rates. But a joltingly strong jobs report on Friday raised concerns the Fed may follow through on its pledge to keep rates higher for longer to ensure high inflation is crushed.

Bertelsmann subsidiary to end, sell dozens of magazines

BERLIN (AP) — German media group RTL Deutschland says it will stop publishing almost two dozen print magazines and seek to sell a similar number. The company said Tuesday it wants to focus on core brands that make currently make up about 70% of its publishing turnover. This includes newsweekly Stern, business magazine Capital and educational monthly GEO. RTL Deutschland is part of Bertelsmann, the German conglomerate that also owns Penguin Random House. Bertelsmann’s chief executive, Thomas Rabe, said the company was responding to “the rapidly changing media landscape” and overall economic challenges. RTL said the move would result in about 500 job losses while 200 positions could be transferred to the new owners of any titles sold.

How Candid hopes diversity data will help aid racial equity

Philanthropy research organization Candid is leading a coalition of funders and grantees looking to standardize the collection of demographic information to help streamline donations to minority-led groups. Candid CEO Ann Mei Chang believes harnessing diversity data can advance racial equity and she plans to launch a nonprofit movement to amass more information this month. The new initiative — dubbed Demographics via Candid, or DvC — hopes to create a survey as straightforward and easily accessible as an organization’s 990 form for the Internal Revenue Service. If it succeeds, nonprofits would no longer need to provide specialized diversity information for each of its donors and would make it easier to measure how much money is going to minority-led groups.

Russia hits more civilian targets amid doubts over offensive

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Officials say Russian shelling has damaged a hospital and apartment buildings in Ukraine ahead of what Kyiv says is a brewing Moscow offensive around the anniversary of its invasion. Authorities said Tuesday that shelling in the northeastern town of Vovchansk caused multiple fires, including at its two-story municipal hospital. Vovchansk is in the Kharkiv region, which was occupied by Russia after its full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24 and subsequently retaken by Ukraine during a late summer counteroffensive. The anticipated Russian push may seek to recapture territory Moscow lost in that counteroffensive. But military analysts expressed skepticism about the potential impact of a Russian assault.

Japan’s SoftBank logs $5.9B loss as tech investments tumble

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese investor SoftBank Group has sunk into a deep loss for the October-December quarter, slammed by the global plunge in technology shares. The 783 billion yen, or $5.9 billion, net loss for the fiscal third quarter, was a reversal from a 29 billion yen profit a year earlier. SoftBank invests in hundreds of companies, including mobile carrier SoftBank, web services provider Yahoo, vehicle-for-hire company Didi and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. It also runs the Vision Fund that includes other global investors. Various uncertainties have slammed Japanese companies recently, such as soaring material costs and rising interest rates.

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