Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Business Briefs: Target posts hefty holiday profits but sales suggest Americans remain cautious on spending

by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is reporting a 58% increase in fourth-quarter profits and handily beat Wall Street expectations as the retailer cut costs and maintained a lean inventory during the holiday season. Revenue rose slightly from a year ago and were above analysts’ projections. Comparable sales _ those from stores or digital channels operating at least 12 months _ slipped 4.4%. That was a smaller decline than the 4.9% drop in third quarter and a 5.4% decline in the second quarter. The Minneapolis-based discounter offered on Tuesday a cautious outlook. The results were announced hours before Target holds its annual investor meeting that should offer clues about shopping behavior and its strategies to improve sales for the year.

Regulator would cap credit card late fees at $8, part of Biden’s campaign against junk fees

NEW YORK (AP) — A Republican senator is criticizing the Biden administration’s move to cap credit card late fees at $8. It’s the latest effort in the White House push to end what it calls junk fees and is a move regulators say will save Americans up to $10 billion a year. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the average credit card late fee is $32. President Joe Biden plans to highlight the proposal and other efforts to reduce costs to Americans at a meeting of his competition council on Tuesday. GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina says the cap on credit card late fees will ultimately raise rates for many borrowers.

China’s plans for 2024 prioritize technology, offer scant comfort for businesses and investors

BEIJING (AP) — China’s blueprint for its economy in 2024 is replete with goals and promises, but it’s also notable for not spelling out specific moves to attain long-promised reforms that foreign businesses and investors have been hoping for. The work report presented Tuesday by Premier Li Qiang to the National People’s Congress outlines plans for modest increases in overall spending and a hefty 7.2% jump in funding for the military. The ruling Communist Party’s target is to grow the economy by about 5% this year, an ambition that economists say may be hard to attain. Li says China also will focus on supporting research and industries to attain breakthroughs in key technologies including computer chips.

Stock market today: Wall Street falls further from its records as bitcoin hits all-time high

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling further from their records as a lull for Wall Street this week continues. The S&P 500 was 0.8% lower Tuesday and on track for a second straight drop after closing last week at an all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 167 points, and the Nasdaq composite was 1.7% lower. Apple was one of the heaviest weights on the market. It’s been struggling on worries about sluggish iPhone sales in China. Treasury yields slipped after U.S. economic data was weaker than expected. Bitcoin set a record, while stock markets in Europe and Asia were mostly lower.

Michael Bloomberg tops the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of America’s biggest donors in 2023

Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, gave the most to charitable causes last year, followed by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, and Michael Dell and his wife, Susan, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s exclusive list of the 50 Americans who donated the largest sums to nonprofits last year. Bloomberg contributed $3 billion to support the arts, education, environment, public health, and programs aimed at improving city governments around the world, while the Knights gave $1.24 billion, including support for the University of Oregon and an ambitious poverty-fighting effort in Portland, Oregon. The Dells contributed nearly $976 million to their charitable funds, which distribute gifts to a wide array of charities.

China sets an economic growth target of around 5% but acknowledges it will not be easy to achieve

BEIJING (AP) — Premier Li Qiang says China aims to achieve 5% economic growth this year but acknowledges it will be a challenging goal in difficult times. In his address to the annual session of the National People’s Congress on Tuesday, Li outlined plans to boost spending on developing advanced technology, fortifying China’s military and supporting the economy, among many other longstanding goals. But there was no big package of stimulus to help boost markets and reassure worried investors. Li said the government would continue with a “pro-active fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy,” suggesting no major change in the leadership’s approach to the economy. China’s economy grew at a 5.2% pace last year, but that was on top of just 3% annual growth rate in 2022.

Montenegro appeals court overturns a decision to extradite Terraform Labs founder to the US

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — An appeals court in Montenegro has overturned a ruling that Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon should be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges rather than to his native South Korea. The 32-year-old Kwon was arrested nearly a year ago in Montenegro on an international arrest warrant in connection with a $40 billion crash of Terraform Labs’ cryptocurrency. Both South Korea and the U.S. have requested Kwon’s extradition from Montenegro. The High Court in Montenegro decided last month to hand over Kwon to the U.S. But the Court of Appeals annulled the decision and on Tuesday ordered the lower court to repeat the process.

Bitcoin bounces to an all-time high after FTX scandal plagued crypto

NEW YORK (AP) — Bitcoin briefly hit an all-time high Tuesday morning — with the world’s largest cryptocurrency surpassing $68,800, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s just above bitcoin’s previous record set in November 2021. The price of the volatile asset is up almost 200% from one year ago. Gains for bitcoin have piled up over recent months — largely due to the excitement leading up to and following regulatory approval of spot bitcoin exchange traded funds, or ETFs, earlier this year. Analysts credit the latest surge to the growing popularity of this new way to invest combined with building anticipation for a scheduled bitcoin “halving” next month.

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.

US sanctions spyware company and executives who targeted American journalists, government officials

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it has sanctioned two individuals and a Greece-based commercial spyware company headed by a former Israeli military officer that developed and distributed technology used to target U.S. government officials, journalists, and policy experts. The sanctions target Intellexa Consortium, which the U.S. says has sold and distributed commercial spyware and surveillance tools for targeted and mass surveillance campaigns. Other entities associated with Intellexa were also sanctioned for their parts in developing and distributing a package of tools known as “Predator.” Predator allows a user to infiltrate electronic devices through zero-click attacks that require no user interaction for the spyware to infect the device.

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