Monday, April 15, 2024

Business Briefs: US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, saying it could push prices higher

by Associated Press

The Federal Trade Commission is suing to block a proposed merger between grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons. The FTC says the $24.6 billion deal would eliminate competition and lead to higher prices for millions of Americans. The commission filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Oregon. It was joined in the suit by the attorneys general of eight states and the District of Columbia. Kroger and Albertsons, two of the nation’s largest grocers, agreed to merge in October 2022. The companies said a merger would help them better compete with Walmart, Amazon, Costco and other big rivals.

What recession? Professional forecasters raise expectations for US economy in 2024

NEW YORK (AP) — This year looks to be a much better one for the U.S. economy than business economists were forecasting just a few months ago. That’s according to a survey released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics. The economy looks set to grow 2.2% this year after adjusting for inflation. That’s up from an earlier forecast of 1.3%. It’s the latest signal of strength for an economy that’s blasted through predictions of a recession. High interest rates were supposed to drag the economy down eventually. But the job market and household spending have remained remarkably resilient.

Stock market today: Wall Street holds steady, holding near record highs

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are holding relatively steady on Wall Street following mixed profit reports from U.S. companies. The S&P 500 was up 0.1% early Tuesday, still near its record set last week. The Dow fell 106 points, or 0.3%, and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.3%. Macy’s rose after reporting better results than feared. Macy’s also announced a sweeping reorganization. Earnings reporting season is winding down for the big companies in the S&P 500, and the hope is that a remarkably solid U.S. economy will help profits grow this year. Treasury yields were mixed in the bond market.

Jacob Rothschild, financier from a family banking dynasty, dies at 87

LONDON (AP) — Jacob Rothschild, the financier and philanthropist from the Rothschild banking dynasty, has died at 87. His family announced his death in a statement Monday without giving details. Rothschild began his career at NM Rothschild & Sons in 1963, before he broke away from the family bank to start businesses and charitable organizations. He was chairman of Rothschild Investment Trust, now RIT Capital Partners, until 2019. His family described him as a passionate supporter of charitable Jewish causes and a keen environmentalist. He was chairman of the board of trustees at London’s National Gallery and chair of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Boeing’s safety culture falls short despite the company’s efforts to fix it, according to experts

Government and aviation-industry experts say Boeing has made some strides toward improving its safety culture, but employees could still be subject to retaliation for reporting issues. That’s one of the findings in a report presented Monday to the Federal Aviation Administration. The experts say that when it comes to safety, there is a “disconnect” between Boeing’s senior management and workers. The experts say that safety training and procedures at Boeing change so frequently that it leads to confusion among employees. Safety at Boeing is being re-examined after last month’s blowout of an emergency door panel on an Alaska Airlines jet.

Yellen urges world leaders to ‘unlock’ frozen Russian Central Bank assets and send them to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is offering her strongest public support yet for the idea of liquidating roughly $300 billion in frozen Russian Central Bank assets and using them for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction. The U.S. and its allies froze Russian foreign holdings in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago. The assets have been sitting untapped as the war grinds on, while officials from multiple countries have debated the legality of sending the money to Ukraine. Yellen said ahead of a Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Brazil on Tuesday that it is “urgent” for the leaders to find a way to unlock the assets and use them to support Ukraine.

Macy’s to close 150 stores as sales slip as it pivots to luxury at Bloomingdale’s and Blue Mercury

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s will close 150 stores over the next three years, 50 by the end of 2024 after posting a fourth quarter loss and declining sales. At the same time the company signaled a pivot to luxury. It said it would open 15 of its higher end Bloomingdale’s stores and 30 of its luxury Blue Mercury cosmetics locations. While adjusted net income and revenue topped Wall Street expectations, the company offered a muted outlook for the year. Shares are essentially flat before the opening bell Tuesday.

Argentina’s president condemns threat by provincial governor to cut energy supplies in dispute

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The government of Argentina’s libertarian President Javier Milei has condemned a threat by the governor of the oil-rich province of Chubut to cut off energy supplies to the rest of the country amid a dispute over funding reductions. The squabble between Argentina’s central government with the local provinces started late last week, when the government held back the transfer of around $15 million in federal tax revenues to the Chubut province. In response, Chubut Governor Ignacio Torres said his province would cut off oil and gas supplies Wednesday if the funds are not disbursed. Torres’ position was shared by five other governors in hydrocarbon-producing Patagonia.

California utility will pay $80M to settle claims its equipment sparked devastating 2017 wildfire

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California Edison will pay $80 million to settle claims on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service connected to a massive wildfire that destroyed more than a thousand homes and other structures in 2017. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the utility agreed to the settlement on Friday without admitting wrongdoing or fault in connection with the Thomas fire. Investigations found utility equipment sparked the fire in two canyon locations. The Thomas fire burned across 439 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. State officials say it is the seventh largest blaze in California history. Edison says it will have a statement on the settlement later Monday.

Ohio commission awards bids to frack oil and gas under state parks, wildlife areas

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio commission has awarded bids to frack oil and gas under state parks despite statewide backlash and an ongoing investigation into possibly fraudulent support. The Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission granted the mineral rights to several out-of-state oil and gas companies. This allows them to frack for oil and gas under land parcels owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Transportation, including state parks and designated wildlife areas. Fracking opponents decry the commission for lack of transparency, as there have been no public hearings, and say the commission is giving in to corporate greed. Commission chair Ryan Richardson did not make herself available for comment Monday.

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