Monday, May 27, 2024

AP morning business news brief: March 22, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

TikTok CEO to tell Congress app is safe, urge against ban

TikTok’s CEO plans to tell Congress that the video-sharing app is committed to user safety, data protection and security, and keeping the platform free from Chinese government influence. Shou Zi Chew is due to answer questions Thursday from U.S. lawmakers concerned about the social media platform’s effects on its young user base and possible national security risks posed by the app. In prepared remarks released ahead of his appearance, Chew says TikTok’s efforts to ensure the security of its user data go “above and beyond” what any of its rivals are doing. He’s urging officials against pursuing an all-out ban on the TikTok app or for the company to be sold off.

Credit Suisse customers feel mix of anger, relief after sale

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse’s customers are feeling a range of emotions after the government orchestrated a takeover of the country’s second-largest bank by rival UBS. Some are angry at top Credit Suisse managers. Others lament over damage to Switzerland’s image as a stable, reliable banking center. Some feel relieved that authorities stepped in to help protect deposits in bid to prevent further upheaval in the global financial system. Others worry about keeping cash invested in a bank that failed to manage its own money adequately. How the $3.25 billion sale will play out is largely unknown, leaving those stuck in the middle — customers and bank workers — uncertain about what comes next.

Wall Street holds steady ahead of Fed decision on rates

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are holding steady as Wall Street bides its time until the Federal Reserve announces whether it will tighten the screws further on the economy. The S&P 500 was virtually unchanged Wednesday. It’s coming off its first back-to-back gain in two weeks, before the second- and third-largest U.S. bank failures in history threw the industry into turmoil. The Fed is stuck with a difficult decision. It can either keep hiking interest rates to drive down inflation, or it can ease off the increases given the pain it’s already caused for banks. That pain could drag down the rest of the economy.

Ukraine, IMF agree on $15.6 billion loan package

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The IMF and Ukraine have agreed on a new loan package aimed at shoring up government finances severely strained by Russia’s invasion. The $15.6 billion deal is expected to leverage even more support by assuring other donors that Ukraine is pursuing strong economic policies and fighting corruption. Ukraine’s finance ministry said Wednesday that the program will “help to mobilize financing from Ukraine’s international partners” and “ensure the path to post-war reconstruction.” The government is running a huge budget deficit amid massively higher military spending and is reliant on outside help to fund pensions, salaries and basic services. The deal also aims to support Ukraine’s bid for European Union membership and post-war reconstruction.

ECB’s Lagarde: Future rate hikes open amid banking turmoil

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde says future interest rate decisions are open after upheaval in the global banking system has left the economic outlook more uncertain. Speaking at a conference Wednesday at Frankfurt’s Goethe University, Lagarde that decisions would depend on whether the numbers shows painfully high inflation is headed convincingly down. She says that means the ECB is “neither committed to raise further nor are we finished with hiking rates.” The open-ended approach is a shift from the ECB’s stance of clearly indicating more rate hikes were in the offing to fight inflation. But bank failures have sent shudders through financial markets due to fears that others may suffer losses from high interest rates.

UK inflation jumps to 10.4%, surprising analysts

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s inflation rate has risen for the first time in four months in February. The new figures released Wednesday surprised analysts and increased pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates at its meeting on Thursday. The consumer price index jumped to 10.4% in the 12 months through February from 10.1% the previous month. The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that high energy prices continued to squeeze household budgets. Economists expect prices to drop rapidly later this year. But inflation is more than five times higher than the Bank of England’s 2% target.

Supreme Court chews on Jack Daniel’s dog toy dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is hearing a spirited dispute between whiskey maker Jack Daniel’s and the manufacturer of a squeaking dog toy that parodies the liquor’s bottle and label. The question for the court has to do with whether the toy’s maker infringed on Jack Daniel’s trademarks. Arizona-based VIP Products produces the Bad Spaniels toy. While the original bottle has the words “Old No. 7 brand” and “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey,” the parody proclaims: “The Old No. 2 on Your Tennessee Carpet.” Arguments in the case are expected to last more than an hour.

Boris Johnson facing high-stakes grilling over ‘partygate’

LONDON (AP) — Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has started testifying to a crucial hearing on whether he misled Parliament about lockdown parties. Johnson denies deliberately lying. But if found to have done so he could face suspension or even lose his seat in Parliament. He told the committee on Wednesday that the rule-breaking events were wrong and “I bitterly regret it.” But he added that “hand on heart … I did not lie to the House.” Johnson is being questioned by the House of Commons standards committee over his statements about rule-breaking parties in government buildings during the coronavirus pandemic.

In boost to opposition, Kurdish party won’t field candidate

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party and its allies say they won’t field a candidate to run in the country’s May 14 presidential election. The move could boost an opposition bloc’s chances of unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. An opposition coalition has united behind the candidacy of Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the secularist Republican People’s Party. The coalition has vowed to dismantle a presidential system that has concentrated a vast amount of powers in Erdogan’s hands. In announcing on Wednesday that the Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, wouldn’t put up its own candidate, a party co-chairperson didn’t express outright support for Kilicdaroglu, but the decision was widely seen as the party’s tacit backing of the anti-Erdogan bloc.

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