Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Business Briefs: US lawmakers see TikTok as China’s tool, even as it distances itself from Beijing

by Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Since its inception, TikTok has been intended only for non-Chinese markets, unavailable in mainland China. It pulled out of Hong Kong in 2020 when Beijing imposed a national security law on the territory to curtail speech. And as data security concerns rose in the U.S., TikTok sought to reassure American lawmakers that U.S. data stays in the country and is inaccessible to ByteDance employees in Beijing. TikTok is following the same playbook as many other companies founded in China: To win customers and trust in Western countries, they play down their Chinese roots. But this may not be enough as a House bill requiring a cutoff from Chinese ownership sailed through the floor and is headed to the Senate.

February retail sales up 0.6%, but some cracks emerge in what has been a driving force for economy

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers picked up their spending a bit in February after a pullback the previous month, reflecting the mixed feelings Americans have in an economy where prices are up, but jobs are plentiful. Retail sales rose 0.6% last month after falling a revised 1.1% in January, dragged down in part by inclement weather, according to the Commerce Department’s report on Thursday. But the February number was weaker than had been predicted and the January downgrade was worse than the initial estimate.February’s number was also lifted in part by higher gas price and higher auto sales. Excluding sales from gas stations and auto dealers, sales were up 0.3%.

Stock market today: Wall Street points to gains ahead of data on US retail sales, inflation

Wall Street pointed markedly higher early ahead of the government’s latest retail sales report. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.4% before the bell Thursday, while futures for the S&P 500 added 0.3% Economists are expecting that retail sales bounced back in February following January’s decline. Shares of U.S. Steel tumbled 4.7% in premarket as President Joe Biden is expected to formally declare opposition to the planned sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel of Japan. Anheuser-Busch InBev fell 3.6% after Altria said it was selling a portion of its stake in the maker of Budweiser.

Europe asks Google, Facebook, TikTok and other platforms how they’re reducing generative AI risks

LONDON (AP) — European Union regulators are ratcheting up scrutiny of big tech companies including Google, Facebook and TikTok by looking into how they’re dealing with risks from generative artificial intelligence, such as the viral spread of deepfakes. The EU’s executive branch said Thursday that it has sent questionnaires about the ways that eight platforms and search engines are curbing the risks of generative AI. They also include Microsoft’s Bing, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and X, formerly Twitter. The 27-nation bloc is flexing new regulatory powers acquired under the Digital Services Act. It’s a sweeping set of regulations that took effect last year with the aim of cleaning up big online platforms and keeping users safe.

US wholesale prices picked up in February in sign that inflation pressures remain elevated

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wholesale prices in the United States accelerated again in February, the latest sign that inflation pressures in the economy remain elevated and might not cool in the coming months as fast as the Federal Reserve or the Biden administration would like. The government’s producer price index — which tracks inflation before it reaches consumers — rose 0.6% from January to February, up from a 0.3% rise the previous month. Measured year over year, producer prices rose by 1.6% in February, the most since last September. The figures could present a challenge for the Fed, which is counting on cooling inflation as it considers when to cut its benchmark interest rate, now at a 23-year high.

Biden is coming out in opposition to plans to sell US Steel to a Japanese company

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is opposing the planned sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel of Japan. Biden says in a statement obtained by The Associated Press the U.S. needs “strong American steel companies powered by American steel workers.” The announcement expected Thursday comes as the Democratic president campaigns in the Midwest and could have ripples in his race against Republican Donald Trump. Nippon Steel announced in December it plans to buy the Pittsburgh-based steel producer for $14 billion in cash. That raised concerns within the federal government about what the transaction could mean for unionized workers, supply chains and U.S. national security. Nippon Steel promises no job losses and says it’s committed to keeping U.S. Steel’s Pittsburgh headquarters.

Biden heads to the Michigan county emerging as the swing state’s top bellwether

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — President Joe Biden will travel to Michigan’s premier bellwether county of Saginaw as he looks to shore up support in the key battleground state ahead of November. Biden will be looking to energize Black and union-affiliated voters in his trip Thursday as his campaign faces challenges in other regions of the state related to his handling of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Saginaw County stands out as the sole Michigan county to have voted for the winning presidential candidate in the last four elections. Biden was able to bring the county back to the Democratic column in 2020 but now faces apathy among Black voters that could impact his success there and in other areas.

Number of Americans filing for jobless benefits remains low as labor market continues to thrive

The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits last week inched up but largely stayed at historically low levels as the labor market continues to thrive despite elevated interest rates. The Labor Department reported Thursday that filings for unemployment claims for the week ending March 9 ticked down by 1,000 to 209,000 from the previous week’s 208,000. Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for the number of U.S. layoffs in a given week. They have remained at historically low levels since the pandemic purge of millions of jobs in the spring of 2020.

Yeezy shoe sales lead Adidas to plan to donate $150 million to anti-hate groups

LONDON (AP) — Adidas says it’s donated or is planning to give away more than $150 million to groups fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate from the sales of Yeezy shoes last year. The German sportswear brand reported the amount Wednesday after severing ties in 2022 with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, over his antisemitic and other offensive comments. Adidas has sold some of the remaining shoes in two releases last year and another late last month. Of roughly $328 million in profits earned from the sales of Yeezy shoes last year, Adidas says it had given away or planned to donate about $152 million to anti-hate groups like the Anti-Defamation League.

UK government says it will back legislation to ban foreign state ownership of British newspapers

LONDON (AP) — The U.K. government says it will back legislation banning foreign state ownership of British newspapers and magazines, a move that could upend a planned takeover by a United Arab Emirates consortium of the Telegraph Media Group. The development comes after numerous lawmakers from across the political divide urged for an explicit ban. The minister in charge of media, Stephen Parkinson, said on Wednesday that the government will send an amendment to the “Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill” currently making its way through Parliament. The bill, which is expected to pass easily, will prevent takeover of British publications by foreign governments. However, foreign individuals and firms will continue to be able to own papers and magazines.

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