Thursday, July 25, 2024

Morning business headlines: Dec. 7, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

The White House is threatening the patents of high-priced drugs developed with taxpayer dollars

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is putting pharmaceutical companies on notice. Washington is warning them that if the price of certain drugs is too high, the government might cancel their patent protection and allow rivals to make their own versions. Under a plan announced Thursday, the government would consider overriding the patent for high-priced drugs that have been developed with the help of taxpayer money and letting competitors make them in hopes of driving down the cost. The administration did not immediately release details about how the process will work and how it will deem a drug costly enough to act. If the plan is enacted, drugmakers are almost certain to sue.

Europe’s talks on world-leading AI rules paused after 22 hours and will start again Friday

LONDON (AP) — European Union talks on comprehensive artificial intelligence regulations were paused after 22 straight hours. Officials haven’t yet hammered out a deal on a rulebook for the rapidly advancing technology behind popular services like ChatGPT. European Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted that talks that ran through the night into Thursday would resume on Friday. Representatives of the bloc’s 27 member states, lawmakers and executive commissioners are under the gun to secure a political agreement for the flagship AI Act. They spent hours wrangling over controversial points like the advanced systems that underpin general purpose AI services like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbot as well as AI-powered police facial recognition.

Stock market today: Wall Street drifts higher ahead of a highly anticipated jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is drifting higher in quiettrading. The S&P 500 was up 0.7% Thursday and continuing to hang near its highest level since March 2022. The Dow was up 43 points, and the Nasdaq composite was 1.1% higher. Energy stocks rose after crude prices recovered some of their sharp tumble. Big Tech was also pushing strongly upward on the market. Treasury yields were mixed after a report showed a slight uptick in the number of workers applying for unemployment. A potentially more impactful report on the job market will arrive Friday. That could give more hints about where interest rates are heading.

Google launches Gemini, upping the stakes in the global AI race

Google took its next leap in artificial intelligence Wednesday with the launch of project Gemini, an AI model trained to behave in human-like ways that’s likely to intensify the debate about the technology’s potential promise and perils. The rollout will unfold in phases, with less sophisticated versions of Gemini called “Nano” and “Pro” being immediately incorporated into Google’s AI-powered chatbot Bard and its Pixel 8 Pro smartphone. The most advanced version of Gemini, called “Ultra,” will be released early next year and be deployed to juice up Google’s chatbot with a product called “Bard Advanced.”

Gates Foundation takes on poverty in the U.S. with $100 million commitment

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Thursday that it will donate $100 million to expand its work on economic mobility in the U.S. The country’s largest foundation says the commitment represents a change in how it operates by putting more power in the hands of grantees. The funds will go to organizations working to connect people without college degrees to jobs, to help people claim government benefits and influencing small- and medium-businesses to adjust working conditions to help people balance personal and work commitments. The funds will also go to helping local governments learn about policies to lift people in their community out of poverty.

UAW says over 1,000 workers at VW plant in Tennessee have signed cards seeking union representation

DETROIT (AP) — More than 1,000 workers at Volkswagen’s Tennessee factory have signed cards authorizing a vote to be represented by the United Auto Workers union. It’s the first plant in the nation to reach that milestone in the UAW’s quest to organize more than a dozen nonunion factories. The union says in a statement Thursday that the workers signed on in less than a week. The factory in Chattanooga employs about 3,800 people who make the VW ID.4 electric vehicle and the Atlas family of gas-powered SUVs. In November, VW gave workers an 11% pay raise at the plant after UAW members ratified new contracts with Detroit automakers. But the union says VW’s pay lags behind what workers make at UAW-represented auto plants. A message was left Thursday seeking comment from VW.

Meta makes end-to-end encryption a default on Facebook Messenger

NEW YORK (AP) — Meta is rolling out end-to-end encryption for calls and messages across its Facebook and Messenger platforms, the company announced Thursday. Such encryption means that no one other than the sender and the recipient — not even Meta — can decipher people’s messages. Encrypted chats, first introduced as an optional feature in Messenger in 2016, will now be the standard for all users going forward, according to Messenger head Loredana Crisan.

Twitch says it’s withdrawing from the South Korean market over expensive network fees

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Twitch, a popular video service, will shut down its struggling business in South Korea, a decision its chief executive blamed on allegedly “prohibitively expensive” costs for operating in the country. In a blog post announcing the company’s plan this week, Dan Clancy said the network fees the company has been paying to South Korean internet operators were 10 times more than in most other markets. He did not provide specific numbers to back such claims. The planned withdrawal from South Korea is the latest sign of business struggles at Twitch, which announced in March that it was laying off 400 employees.

Automakers, dealers and shoppers dawdle on EVs despite strong year in US sales growth

The EV trend in the US at the end of 2023 is a little tough to tease out. Overall sales hit a record, but they’re also falling short of expectations amid the industry’s push to transition away from combustion engines and quickly towards EVs. EV inventory is building on dealer lots, and many EV models are taking longer to sell than gas counterparts. Some automakers are discounting their EVs to get them to move. Ford decreased Mach-E production in recent months. This story addresses the many EV market dynamics consumers are seeing.

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