Saturday, April 13, 2024

Morning business headlines: Dec. 28, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

US companies are picky about investing in China. The exceptions? Burgers and lattes

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was a tumultuous 2023 for the Chinese economy. Some of the world’s biggest brands took action or said they were considering shifting manufacturing away from China during a time of unease about security controls and wobbly relations between Beijing and Washington. But there was at least one bright spot for China in all the tough news about declining foreign investment. American fast-food companies have announced a surge of investment in the market of 1.4 billion people. KFC, McDonald’s and Starbucks are among the companies that have announced plans for major investment in China in recent months.

Gaming proponents size up the odds of a northern Virginia casino

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — As casinos start to pop up on Virginia’s southern border, some lawmakers are ready to explore whether wealthy northern Virginia should get in on the action. State Senator David Marsden is planning to re-introduce legislation that would allow Fairfax County to hold a referendum on building a casino. Potential locations include Tysons Corner and Reston. Marsden and other supporters say a casino would diversify the tax base and allow Virginia to recoup some of the money lost when Virginians go to Maryland to gamble. His plan would also include a convention center. Opponents say county residents aren’t interested in a casino and that better development projects can be recruited to those sought-after communities.

Amazon Prime ads on movies and TV shows will begin in late January

If you are an Amazon Prime Video user, get ready to see ads on movies and TV shows starting next month. The company said in an email to U.S. members this week that Prime will include ads for subscribers beginning on Jan. 29. Prime members who want to keep their movies and TV shows ad-free will have to pay an additional $2.99. The tech giant follows other major streamers –- such as Netflix and Disney –- who have embraced a dual model that allows them to earn revenue from ads and also offer subscribers the option to opt out with a higher fee.

China’s Alibaba must face a US toymaker’s lawsuit over sales of allegedly fake Squishmallows

A judge in New York has ruled that Alibaba must face a lawsuit by a U.S. toymaker alleging that the Chinese ecommerce giant’s online platforms were used to sell counterfeit Squishmallows. Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District Court of New York refused Alibaba’s request to dismiss the case filed by Kelly Toys Holdings, which makes the popular plush toys. Kelly Toys is owned by Jazwares, a toy company that is controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. There was no immediate comment by Alibaba, China’s biggest ecommerce company. Kelly Toys alleges that sales of faked Squishmallows via Alibaba websites have continued despite demands that they be stopped.

The year in clean energy: Wind, solar and batteries grow despite economic challenges

Led by new solar power, the world added renewable energy at breakneck speed in 2023, a trend that if amplified will help Earth turn away from fossil fuels and prevent severe warming and its effects. China, Europe, and the U.S. each set records for a single year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. China’s additions dwarfed those of all other countries. By the end of 2023, the world will also have added enough wind energy to power nearly 80 million homes, making it a record year. And one in five cars sold across the globe this year is expected to be electric. That meant it also turned out to be another banner year for batteries.

Social media companies made $11 billion in US ad revenue from minors, Harvard study finds

A study from Harvard says social media companies collectively made over $11 billion in U.S. advertising revenue from minors last year. The researchers say the findings show a need for government regulation of social media since the companies that stand to make money from children who use their platforms have failed to meaningfully self-regulate. They also note such regulations, as well greater transparency from tech companies, could help alleviate harms to youth mental health. And curtail potentially harmful advertising practices that target children and adolescents. The platforms themselves don’t make public how much money they make from minors.

Odds for more sports betting expansion could fade after rapid growth to 38 states

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sports betting has spread rapidly across U.S. states in the past five years. But the odds for further expansion may be fading as state legislatures prepare to return to work in 2024. A 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court opened the way for states to legalize sports betting. Since then, a total of 38 have done so. But proposals in some other states have become bogged down by political resistance and competing financial interests from casinos, tribal gaming groups, horse tracks and other gambling operations. California and Texas — the two most populous states — are among the dozen where sports betting still is illegal.

Stock market today: Trading on Wall Street muted as the end of the year approaches

Premarket trading on Wall Street was mixed on what’s expected to be another quiet day between the Christmas and New Year holidays. Futures for the S&P 500 were virtually unchanged before the bell Thursday, while futures for the Dow lost 0.1%. Markets have held on to slight gains for the week so far, and the S&P 500 is coming off its eighth straight winning week. With just two more trading days left in the year, major indexes are on track to post hefty annual gains. The S&P 500 is up more than 24% for the year, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up 44%.

The New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft for using its stories to train chatbots

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times is suing OpenAI and Microsoft, trying to end the practice of using its stories to train chatbots. In the federal suit filed Wednesday in Manhattan, the Times said OpenAI and Microsoft are advancing their technology through the “unlawful use of The Times’s work to create artificial intelligence products that compete with it” and “threatens The Times’s ability to provide that service.” Artificial intelligence companies scrape information available online, including articles published by news organizations, to train generative AI chatbots. OpenAI and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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