Monday, April 22, 2024

Morning business headlines: Dec. 14, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

2023: The year we played with artificial intelligence — and weren’t sure what to do about it

ChatGPT was the catalyst for a year that took artificial intelligence mainstream. For AI, 2023 was a long time coming. Still, the technology has a long way to go before it matches some of the world’s science fiction expectations. But pioneering AI scientist Fei-Fei Li says this year was an inflection point marking profound changes in the technology, as well as the public’s awakening to its possibilities and dangers. Impressive new AI tools forced quick thinking from people around the world — from classroom teachers to policymakers looking to guard democracies from AI-fueled misinformation.

European Central Bank keeps its key interest rate at a record high. Now, when will it cut?

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has decided to keep its key interest rate at a record high and will leave it there as long as needed to battle back inflation. That signaled cuts aren’t around the corner despite expectations the bank will act next year to support the shrinking economy. The decision Thursday follows similar outcomes this week from the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Swiss National Bank to leave rates unchanged. Bank President Christine Lagarde said “we should absolutely not lower our guard” and that policymakers did not discuss rate cuts at all.

How are Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea affecting global trade?

LONDON (AP) — Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in the Red Sea, one of the world’s major trade arteries. Attacks have increased since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October and Israeli-linked vessels have been targeted. But a recent missile strike hit a Norwegian vessel without any obvious Israeli ties, raising concerns about widening risks. Oil prices haven’t reacted so far. But experts say insurance costs for shippers moving oil, grain and consumer goods through the waterway have doubled. A shipping industry representative says the industry is nervous but he doesn’t foresee the Houthis shutting transport through the Red Sea.

Janet Yellen says the Trump administration’s China policies left the US more vulnerable

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says former President Donald Trump’s economic policies toward China left America “more vulnerable and more isolated” in the global economy. It’s a rare jab by her at the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Yellen made the comment in prepared remarks to be delivered at a U.S.-China Business Council event Thursday night. In her prepared remarks, Yellen says the Trump administration “failed to make investments at home in critical areas like infrastructure and advanced technology.”

Stock market today: After Dow hits unprecedented heights, Wall Street points still higher

Wall Street pointed toward gains one day after a powerful rally sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record high as the Federal Reserve indicated that interest rate cuts are likely next year. Futures for the S&P 500 and Dow rose more than 0.3% before the bell Thursday. Moderna shares jumped more than 8% in premarket after the drug company announced that its treatment for high-risk melanoma — in concert with Merck’s Keytruda — sharply reduced recurrence and death. Oil prices rose and the U.S. dollar tumbled to its lowest level since summer.

Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about $273 million in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant. It has dealed a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance. The ruling Thursday by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangments between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by the EU’s antitrust chief. The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the EU’s executive commission hadn’t proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

Bank of England holds interest rates at a 15-year high despite worries about the economy

LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England has kept borrowing rates unchanged despite mounting worries over the state of the British economy. The central bank on Thursday left its main interest rate at a 15-year high of 5.25%, where it has stood since August following the end of nearly two years of hikes. While the interest rate increases have helped in the battle against inflation, the squeeze on consumer spending, primarily through higher mortgage rates, has weighed on the British economy. There’s little sign that rate cuts are on the agenda yet, with the bank’s governor saying interest rate policy would likely have to remain “restrictive for an extended period.” That’s unlike what the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled a day earlier.

Missile fired from rebel-controlled Yemen misses a container ship in Bab el-Mandeb Strait

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A missile fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen missed a container ship traveling through the crucial Bab el-Mandeb Strait. A U.S. defense official told The Associated Press about the assault Thursday, the latest attack threatening shipping in the crucial maritime chokepoint. The attack saw the missile splash harmlessly in the water near the Maersk Gibraltar, a Hong Kong-flagged container ship that had been traveling from Salalah, Oman, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. The official’s comments came after the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which monitors Mideast shipping lanes, put out an alert warning of an incident in the strait.

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