Monday, May 27, 2024

AP morning news brief – March 7, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

US sues to block JetBlue from buying Spirit Airlines

The Biden administration is suing to block JetBlue Airways from buying Spirit Airlines, saying the deal would reduce competition and drive up air fares for consumers. The Justice Department said Tuesday that the tie-up would especially hurt cost-conscious travelers who depend on Spirit, a budget carrier, to find cheaper options than they can find on JetBlue and other airlines. Attorney General Merrick Garland was scheduled to hold a news conference to announce the lawsuit — a sign of the importance that the administration places on stopping further consolidation in the airline industry.

China’s trade contracts as Western demand weakens

BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade contracted again in January and February as U.S. and European demand weakened in the face of interest rate hikes, adding to pressure on official efforts to revive economic growth following the end of anti-virus controls. Customs data show exports sank 6.8% from a year earlier. Imports fell 10.2%, deepening December’s 7.3% contraction. Forecasters expected trade to weaken as the likelihood of a recession in Western economies increased following rate hikes to cool economic activity and inflation. That adds to complications for President Xi Jinping’s government, which is trying to revive economic growth that sank last year to 3%, the second-weakest rate since the 1970s.

WeightWatchers gets into prescription weight loss business

WeightWatchers is soaring after the company said it was getting into the prescription drug weight loss business with the acquisition of Sequence. The telehealth operator can prescribe medications under brand names including Ozempic, Wegovy and Trulicity. WeightWatchers offers subscribers meal plans with the goal of losing excess weight. With the acquisition of Sequence, the company is tapping into a red-hot market for prescription drugs that address obesity, and broadening what it offers to customers. Shares of WW International Inc. jumped more than 31% in morning trading.

US sees China propaganda efforts becoming more like Russia’s

WASHINGTON (AP) — China has long been seen by the U.S. as a prolific source of anti-American propaganda but less aggressive in its influence operations than Russia. Now many in Washington think China is increasingly following Russia’s lead — and there’s growing concern the U.S. isn’t doing enough to respond. U.S. officials and outside experts cite recent examples of China-linked actors generating false news reports with artificial intelligence and deploying so-called troll farms on social media. While many of those efforts appear to be amateurish, experts think they signal an apparent willingness from Beijing to try more influence campaigns as part of a broader embrace of covert operations.

Stocks slip, yields swing on worries about bigger rate hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slipping on Wall Street after the head of the Federal Reserve warned it could increase the size of its hikes to interest rates if pressure on inflation stays hotter than expected. The S&P 500 was 0.6% lower in morning trading, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 90 points. They had been nearly flat just before Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is ready to get more aggressive on rate hikes if warranted. Treasury yields also swung following the comments, which were made in Powell’s testimony before a Senate committee.

Biden says new taxes on the rich can help save Medicare

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has started to unveil parts of his budget proposal being released later this week. The Democratic president is beginning with his plan for Medicare, including higher taxes on wealthy people to increase funding for the program’s trust fund. Biden also wants to expand Medicare’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices. Biden wants to increase the Medicare tax rate from 3.8% to 5% on income exceeding $400,000 per year, including salaries and capital gains. That would likely increase tax revenues by more than $117 billion over 10 years, according to prior estimates by the Tax Policy Center. Biden writes Tuesday in The New York Times that Medicare is “the rock-solid guarantee that Americans have counted on to be there for them when they retire.”

FDA: Two more eyedrops brands recalled due to risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials are alerting consumers about two more recalls of eyedrops due to contamination risks that could lead to vision problems and serious injury. The announcements follow a recall last month of eyedrops made in India that were linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections. There’s no indication the latest recalls are related to those products. The Food and Drug Administration posted separate recall notices for certain eyedrops distributed by Pharmedica and Apotex after the companies announced they are voluntarily pulling several lots from the market.

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