Thursday, July 18, 2024

Business Briefs: US employers add a surprisingly strong 275,000 jobs in sign of continued economic strength

by Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers delivered another healthy month of hiring in February, adding a surprising 275,000 jobs and again showcasing the U.S. economy’s resilience in the face of high interest rates. Last month’s job growth marked an increase from a revised gain of 229,000 jobs in January. At the same time, the unemployment rate ticked up two-tenths of a point in February to a still-low 3.9%. Though that marks the highest rate in two years, it was the 25th straight month in which joblessness has remained below 4%. Friday’s report also drastically revised down the government’s estimate of hiring in December and January from what had been blockbuster increases to still-solid gains.

Behind the doors of a Chinese hacking company, a sordid culture fueled by influence, alcohol and sex

BEIJING (AP) — China’s hacking industry, leaked internal documents reveal, is vast in size and scope but also suffers from shady business practices, disgruntlement over pay and work quality, and poor security protocols. China’s state security agencies have contracted large amounts of hacking and espionage work to private contractors to slash costs and expand their reach, allowing Beijing to direct a huge number of hackers to infiltrate systems overseas. But leaked documents from one contractor, I-Soon, show that in China’s hackers-for-hire industry, corners are cut and rules are often murky and poorly enforced.

Federal Reserve’s Powell: Regulatory proposal criticized by banks will be revised by end of year

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sweeping bank regulatory proposal will be significantly revised by year’s end, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Thursday, a potential victory for the large banks that have aggressively opposed the likely changes. The proposed rule, issued last summer by the Fed and other regulatory agencies, is intended to implement changes that were negotiated internationally after the 2008 global financial crisis. Among other things, the rule would require the largest banks — those with more than $100 billion in assets — to hold more funds in reserve to protect against bad loans and other potential losses. Large banks have resisted the proposal, which they say would limit their ability to lend.

Stock market today: Wall Street holds around record highs after a mixed jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting around their records in early trading on Wall Street after a mixed jobs report appeared to bolster the case for easier interest rates later in the year. The S&P 500 was 0.2% higher Friday. The bechmark index is on track for its 17th winning week in the last 19. The Dow was little changed, and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.3%. Treasury yields eased after the jobs report pushed traders to build bets that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates in June. Some bets even shifted earlier to May.

Germany’s top prosecutor takes over Tesla fire investigation, suspecting terrorism

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top prosecutor has taken over the investigation into an alleged arson attack on the power supply of the electric car company Tesla near Berlin. A spokeswoman said there is an initial suspicion that a terrorist organization may have been involved in the attack. In such cases, the federal prosecutor’s office, the top law enforcement agency in Germany, is responsible for the investigation. On Tuesday, production at Tesla’s electric vehicle plant came to a standstill and workers were evacuated after a power outage that officials suspected was caused by arson. Tens of thousands of residents were also affected.

School shootings prompt more states to fund digital maps for first responders

Mass shootings at schools have prompted a growing number of states to encourage digital mapping to aid emergency responders. An Associated Press analysis found lawmakers in more than 20 states have enacted or proposed measures setting standards for digital school mapping. The AP found companies specializing in such mapping have spent at least $1.4 million lobbying for legislation in recent years. The maps go beyond traditional blueprints to include aerial imagery and precise labeling of doors, hallways, utilities and numerous other features in buildings that could enable quicker responses in emergencies.

Bill that could make TikTok unavailable in the US advances quickly in the House

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill that could lead to the popular video-sharing app TikTok being unavailable in the United States is quickly gaining traction in the House. Lawmakers advanced legislation against TikTok Thursday as they voiced concerns about the potential for the platform to surveil and manipulate Americans. The measure gained the support of House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday and could soon come up for a full vote in the House. The White House has provided technical support in the drafting of the bill, though White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the TikTok legislation “still needs some work” to get to a place where President Joe Biden would endorse it.

Apple is making big App Store changes in Europe over new rules. Could it mean more iPhone hacking?

Apple is opening small cracks in the iPhone’s digital fortress as part of a regulatory clampdown in Europe that’s striving to give consumers more choices. But it’s coming at the risk of creating new avenues for hackers to steal personal and financial information stored on the devices. The overhaul rolling out Thursday only in the Europe represents the biggest changes to the iPhone’s App Store since Apple introduced the concept in 2008. Among other things, people in Europe can download iPhone apps from stores that aren’t operated by Apple and are getting alternative ways to pay for in-app transactions. It’s all part of the Digital Markets Act taking effect Thursday.

Stock market today: Asian shares rise after Wall Street sets another record

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly higher after U.S. stocks climbed to records, with easier interest rates beckoning on the horizon. Benchmarks rose in early Friday trading in Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul and Hong Kong, while slipping slightly in Shanghai. The S&P 500 climbed 1% Thursday, beating the all-time high it set last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3%, and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.5%. Treasury yields eased after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said it’s not far from delivering the cuts to interest rates that Wall Street craves. Powell said that cuts will start this year if inflation continues cooling.

Candy companies pitch gum as a stress reliever and concentration aid to revive stale US sales

Gum makers are trying to figure out what will make Americans start chewing again. Generational habits, health concerns and the coronavirus pandemic have gnawed away at gum sales. Some manufacturers are leaving the U.S. market altogether. But Mars, which owns the 133-year-old Wrigley brand, is trying to reposition gum as a stress reliever and a concentration aid as well as a breath freshener. A company executive says the “aha moment” came from a nurse in a hospital COVID-19 ward who chewed gum behind a mask to calm herself. Market research firm Circana says U.S. chewing gum sales rose less than 1% last year to 1.2 billion packages, which was still 32% fewer than in 2018.

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