Saturday, April 13, 2024

AP morning business news brief – Aug. 18, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

Maui residents fill philanthropic gaps while aid makes the long journey to the fire-stricken island

Nonprofits and volunteers in Maui have cobbled together countless improvised and urgent solutions since the deadliest wildfire in over a century hit their community. Kami Irwin, who runs a military nonprofit, was coordinating donation distributions out of the tasting room of the Maui Brewing Company. Her organization learned last week that 100 pounds of insulin was grounded at Kona International Airport on the big island. They spent several hours trying to link health officials with a general aviation pilot who could complete the medical delivery to their community. She was frustrated that volunteers were doing such vital work but she says, “We will be OK if us residents keep building together.”

China’s Evergrande says it is asking for US court to approve debt plan, not filing for bankruptcy

BEIJING (AP) — A giant Chinese real estate developer that is struggling to avoid defaulting on $340 billion in debt says it is asking a U.S. court to approve a restructuring plan for foreign bondholders and denied what it said were news reports suggesting it filed for bankruptcy. Evergrande Groupe’s mountain of debt prompted fears in 2021 of a possible default that might send shockwaves through the global financial system. The company says its request under Chapter 15 of the U.S. bankruptcy code is “a normal step in the overseas restructuring procedure and doesn’t involve bankruptcy filings.” Evergrande ran short of cash after Beijing tightened controls in 2020 on corporate debt the ruling Communist Party worries is dangerously high.

China’s Xi calls for patience as Communist Party tries to reverse economic slump

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping has called for patience in a speech released as the ruling Communist Party tries to reverse a deepening economic slump and said the West’s pursuit of material wealth led to “spiritual poverty.” Xi’s speech was published by Qiushi, the party’s top theoretical journal, after data showed consumer and factory activity weakened further in July despite official promises to support struggling entrepreneurs. The government skipped giving an update on a politically sensitive spike in unemployment among young people. Xi called for China to “build a socialist ideology with strong cohesion” and to focus on long-term goals of improving education, health care and food supplies.

China’s government tries to defuse economic fears after real estate developer’s debt struggle

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government is trying to reassure jittery homebuyers after a major real estate developer missed a payment on its multibillion-dollar debt, reviving fears about the industry’s shaky finances and their impact on the struggling Chinese economy. Economists say there is no indication Country Garden’s problems might spread beyond China. But they highlight the industry’s struggle under pressure from the ruling Communist Party to reduce soaring debt that is seen as an economic threat. That has bankrupted hundreds of small developers and depressed China’s economic growth. A government spokesman tried to reassure the public, saying financial conditions are improving and regulators are getting debt under control.

Paramount decides it won’t sell majority stake in BET Media Group, source tells AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — BET won’t be sold after all: Paramount Global decided against selling the majority stake of the network. Paramount notified bidders — including Tyler Perry, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Byron Allen — late Wednesday night about its decision to close the BET Media Group sale process. The outcome was confirmed to The Associated Press Thursday by a a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to speak publicly. Some popular suitors included actor-director Tyler Perry, music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and businessman Byron Allen. Along with BET, the deal would have included the cable channel VH1. BET was created in 1980 by Robert and Sheila Johnson, who sold it to Viacom in 2000 for $3 billion.

Former Austrian leader Kurz charged with giving false evidence to a corruption inquiry

BERLIN (AP) — Prosecutors say Austria’s former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has been charged with making false statements to a parliamentary inquiry into alleged corruption in his first government, which collapsed in a scandal in 2019. An indictment against Kurz, his former chief of staff and a third person was filed at the state court in Vienna. The court said Friday taht Kurz will go on trial on Oct. 18. The charges result from an investigation that was launched in 2021, when Kurz was still chancellor. It centers on his testimony to a parliamentary probe that focused on alleged corruption in his former coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

Utilities begin loading radioactive fuel into a second new reactor at Georgia nuclear plant

ATLANTA (AP) — Workers have begun loading radioactive fuel into a second new nuclear reactor in Georgia. Georgia Power Co. and co-owners said Thursday that they are transferring fuel into Unit 4 at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta. The two-reactor project is seven years late and $17 billion over budget. Unit 3 entered commercial operation on July 31. Georgia Power says Unit 4 will be complete by March. The owners are currently projected to pay $31 billion for Vogtle. Loading fuel triggers a proceeding by the Georgia Public Service Commission to decide how much Georgia Power customers should pay for the project and how much of the costs the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. should absorb as wasteful.

China says it would welcome a visit by US commerce secretary after imposition of investment controls

BEIJING (AP) — China says it would welcome a visit by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo following the imposition of foreign investment controls by her agency that have stung numerous Chinese companies. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting did not offer a date, but said the countries are in “close communication on arrangements.” Earlier reports said a visit could come as early as later this month. Shu says China is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the investment controls and would respond on the basis of the results. U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this month to block and regulate U.S. high-tech investment in China, reflecting the intensifying competition between the world’s two biggest economies.

Average long-term US mortgage rate climbs to 7.09% this week to highest level in more than 20 years

The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate jumped this week to its highest level in 20 years. That’s grim news for would-be homebuyers already facing high home prices caused a lack of supply. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan jumped to 7.09% from 6.96% last week. That’s the highest since April of 2002, when the average rate clocked in at 7.13%. Sharply higher rates are contributing to a dearth of available homes, as homeowners who locked into lower borrowing costs two years ago are now reluctant to sell and jump into a higher rate on a new property.

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