Thursday, June 20, 2024

AP morning business news brief – July 13, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

Tourists are packing European hotspots, boosted by Americans

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Crowds are packing the Colosseum, the Louvre, the Acropolis and other major attractions as tourism exceeds 2019 records in some of Europe’s most popular destinations. While European tourists helped the industry on the road to recovery last year, the upswing this summer is led largely by Americans, who are lifted by a strong dollar and in some cases pandemic savings. The return of mass tourism is a boon to hotels and restaurants, which suffered under the pandemic restrictions. But there is a downside, too, as pledges to rethink tourism to make it more sustainable have largely gone unheeded in the most popular destinations.

El Nino is threatening rice crops while grain supplies already are squeezed by the war in Ukraine

NEW DELHI (AP) — Experts are warning that rice production across South and Southeast Asia is likely to suffer with the world heading into an El Nino. Climate change is causing stronger El Ninos, which alter global weather patterns and heat up an already warming planet. Thirsty crops like rice are particularly vulnerable, especially when they are rainfed and not irrigated. Experts say this will worsen food insecurity at a time when supplies of grain and fertilizer are recovering from disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine. Global demand is soaring, while yields globally have been stagnating for decades because of climate change and limits to productivity gains.

Google rolls out AI chatbot Bard to Europe and Brazil and adds more features

LONDON (AP) — Google says it’s rolling out its AI-powered chatbot Bard across Europe and in Brazil, expanding its availability to hundreds of millions more users. The company also said Thursday that it’s adding more features to Bard as it scrambles to keep up with rival Microsoft, which uses OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT service in its Bing search engine. Google launched Bard in February, but its planned rollout last month in the European Union was delayed as regulators checked whether the service complied with the 27-nation bloc’s strict privacy rules. Google says it has “proactively engaged with experts, policymakers and privacy regulators.” It says Bard can now be used in more than 40 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, German, Hindi and Spanish.

Little-known but efficient, a different way to heat and cool your house

More than one third of all U.S. energy consumption, and thus a significant source of climate change, is from heating and cooling homes and buildings. Air source heat pumps are a trending topic as a solution, but experts say geothermal pumps are a more efficient option. For the geothermal pumps, loops of flexible piping are installed several hundred feet deep in yards and water in the loops brings up heat from the earth and absorbs heat from inside homes. Industry experts see the technology becoming increasingly popular in coming years, but installation costs are still high, even though homeowners save money long term.

Disney extends CEO Bob Iger’s contract 2 more years through 2026

Bob Iger will remain as CEO of The Walt Disney Co. through the end of 2026, agreeing to a two-year contract extension that will give the entertainment and theme park company some breathing room to find his successor. Disney’s board gave Iger their full support, voting unanimously to extend his contract. Iger rejoined Disney as CEO in November, taking over control of the company from Bob Chapek. He had previously served as CEO and chairman from 2005 to 2020 and then as executive chairman and chairman through 2021.

Hollywood actors poised to join writers on strike after talks collapse

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The union representing film and television actors says no deal has been reached with studios and streaming services and its leadership will vote on whether to strike later Thursday. SAG-AFTRA said its decision on whether to join striking screenwriters will be decided by leadership at a meeting Thursday. If the actors go on strike, it will be the first time since 1960 that actors and writers picket film and television productions. If that happens, actors will formally join screenwriters on the picket lines outside studios and filming locations in a bid to get better terms from studios and streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.

UK government offers millions of public sector workers pay hikes to end strikes

LONDON (AP) — The British government has offered millions of public sector workers pay raises in a bid to end an array of strikes. Those actions have crippled trains, health care and other services for more than a year amid the biggest cost-of-living crisis in generations. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed Thursday that the government was accepting the recommendations from independent review bodies. The announcement came on the same day that some doctors in England launched a five-day walkout. Police will see a 7% pay raise, while teachers will get 6.5% and doctors at the early stages of their careers in Britain’s state-funded health service will receive 6%. Sunak said the offer are “final.”

Delta Air Lines is soaring to a record $1.8 billion profit as summer vacationers pack planes

Delta Air Lines is reporting record profit and revenue in the second quarter, as summer travelers pack planes and head off on vacation. Delta said Thursday that it earned more than $1.8 billion. The results are beating Wall Street expectations, and Delta is raising its forecast of full-year earnings. Delta officials say strong demand for travel is continuing, and CEO Ed Bastian says international bookings — which usually taper off in the fall — will be higher than normal. Delta says it now expects to earn between $6 and $7 a share for the full year. That’s a dollar per share increase over the airline’s previous forecast.

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