Thursday, April 18, 2024

Business Briefs

by David Specht

Apple fined nearly $2 billion by the European Union over music streaming competition

LONDON (AP) — The European Union has fined Apple nearly $2 billion for breaking competition laws by unfairly favoring its own music streaming service over rivals. The move Monday is the 27-nation bloc’s first-ever antitrust penalty against the U.S. tech giant. The EU’s executive commission says Apple banned app developers from “fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services outside of the app.” That’s illegal under EU antitrust rules. The fine follows a long-running investigation triggered by a complaint from Swedish streaming service Spotify. The EU has led global efforts to crack down on Big Tech companies.

Stock market today: Wall Street drifts around its records ahead of a busy week

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are drifting around their record heights. The S&P 500 was 0.1% lower early Monday, coming off its latest all-time high and its 16th winning week in the last 18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 145 points, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.1% lower. Later this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will speak before Congress. What he says could sway expectations for when the Fed will start cutting interest rates, now expected in June. The latest monthly jobs update will also arrive at the end of the week. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 topped 40,000 for the first time.

JetBlue and Spirit are ending their $3.8 billion merger plan after a federal judge blocked the deal

JetBlue and Spirit Airlines are ending their proposed $3.8 billion merger after a federal judge blocked the deal, ruling it would hurt competition. JetBlue said Monday that even though both companies still believe in the benefits of a combination, they felt they were unlikely to meet the required closing conditions before a July 24 deadline. The airlines say they are mutually agreeing that terminating the deal is the best decision for both. A merger would have eliminated Spirit, the nation’s biggest discount airline. The Justice Department sued to block the deal and won in court.

Saks CEO Marc Metrick on how he’s tackling online return fraud, a growing industrywide issue

NEW YORK (AP) — At Saks Fifth Avenue’s return area at its Manhattan flagship, shoppers now see a camera and signage highlighting the enhanced video surveillance and a new policy: customers must now show a photo ID. The company is also looking at ways to better scrutinize packages sent back to the warehouse. Saks’ increased measures, to be rolled out at all 39 stores in some form, are the latest moves that a growing number of retailers including Macy’s are undertaking to combat a rise of return fraud, particularly online, seen in the past two years. Other measures including mandating receipts and charging return fees. It’s a problem worth $101 billion, or 13.7% of all returns, according to the National Retail Federation.

How Chinese retailers can offer Americans steep bargains on clothes and why that could change

WASHINGTON (AP) — The flow of millions of small parcels into the U.S. from China thanks to the explosive growth of online shopping has caught the attention of Congress. It casts a spotlight on a trade rule allowing parcels valued under $800 to enter the country duty-free. Lawmakers are questioning whether the rule allows manufacturers to avoid tariffs aimed at protecting American companies and to bypass laws barring the imports of illicit drugs or products made by forced labor. Supporters say the so-called de minimis exception helps keep down costs for American consumers and small businesses as online shopping goes global. Custom and Border Protection’s Chicago field office oversees one of the nation’s busiest ports for de minimis parcels.

China seeks ways to revive slowing economy and salvage property market as annual congress convenes

BEIJING (AP) — China’s efforts to restore confidence and rev up the economy will top the agenda during this month’s meeting of the ceremonial national legislature. The strong, consumer-led recovery hoped for after leaders gave up on severe anti-virus controls in late 2022 never materialized. Premier Li Qiang’s work report Tuesday will showcase Beijing’s success in meeting last year’s target of about 5% growth. But the mood on the streets and in financial markets remains glum. Property prices have continued to fall, local governments are mired in trillions of dollars of debt and many Chinese are holding back on spending.

Black women struggle to find their way in a job world where diversity is under attack

BOSTON (AP) — With attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives raging, Black women looking to climb the corporate ladder face a more hostile landscape than ever. Dr. Claudine Gay’s resignation in January as Harvard’s first Black president was just the latest in a revolving door of Black women who have been especially and aggressively questioned or abandoned after achieving a career pinnacle. This has led some women to build networking groups or mentorship, even as some question whether it’s worth trying for top positions. For others, it has triggered an exodus to entrepreneurship and re-invention.

Lawyers who successfully argued Musk pay package was illegal seek $5.6 billion in Tesla stock

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The lawyers who successfully argued that a massive pay package for Tesla CEO Elon Musk was illegal and should be voided are asking the presiding judge to award company stock worth $5.6 billion as legal fees. The attorneys represented Tesla shareholders in the case decided in January and made the request in court papers filed Friday. The amount would be the largest such award, if approved. Lawyers in cases stemming from the collapse of Enron got a record $688 million in legal fees in 2008. The lawyers say the sum is justified because they wouldn’t have been paid had they lost and the benefit to Tesla “was massive.”

Chicago ‘mansion’ tax to fund homeless services stuck in legal limbo while on the ballot

CHICAGO (AP) — An unusual legal challenge may upend the future of a Chicago ballot measure that would hike a real estate tax on high-end properties sales to pay for services for homeless people. Early voting has already started for the March 19 Illinois primary as the case makes its way through the courts. The referendum asks voters in the nation’s third-largest city to support an increase on the real estate transfer tax on properties over $1 million. If it survives a legal challenge, the change is expected to generate about $100 million a year to help pay for housing and mental health care, among other things.

Trader Joe’s chicken soup dumplings recalled for possibly containing permanent marker plastic

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 61,000 pounds of steamed chicken soup dumplings sold at Trader Joe’s are being recalled for possibly containing hard plastic, according to U.S. regulators. The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service noted that the now-recalled dumplings, which are produced by CJ Foods Manufacturing Beaumont Corp., may be contaminated with foreign materials — specifically hard plastic from a permanent marker pen. The 6-ounce Trader Joe’s Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings under recall can be identified by their side box labels with lot codes 03.07.25.C1-1 and 03.07.25.C1-2. To date, no related illnesses or injures have been reported yet.

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