Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Business Briefs: US economic growth for last quarter is revised up slightly to a healthy 3.4% annual rate

by Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.4% annual pace from October through December, the government said in an upgrade from its previous estimate. The government had previously estimated that the economy expanded at a 3.2% rate last quarter. The Commerce Department’s revised measure of the nation’s gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services — confirmed that the economy decelerated from its sizzling 4.9% rate of expansion in the July-September quarter. But last quarter’s growth was still a solid performance, coming in the face of higher interest rates and powered by growing consumer spending, exports and business investment in buildings and software.

Dethroned crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried to be sentenced for defrauding FTX investors

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge deciding how long former crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried will spend in prison has rejected arguments by his lawyer that leniency is warranted because customers will get back money they lost after the 2022 collapse of FTX. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on Thursday also cited three instances where he said Bankman-Fried perjured himself when he testified. The company was once one of the world’s most popular platforms for trading digital currency. Bankman-Fried was convicted in November of fraud and conspiracy. Kaplan says Bankman-Fried illegally used billions of dollars from FTX depositors. His lawyers say he is not the “evil genius” depicted in the media.

US journalist marks a year in a Russian prison as courts keep extending his time behind bars

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich marks a year behind bars on Friday following his arrest by Russian authorities who accuse him of espionage but have offered no supporting evidence. His friends and family say he is relying on his humor and resilience to get him through the days. Gershkovich, his employer and the U.S. government deny the allegations. He has been brought to court a dozen times for hearings that have rejected his appeals for freedom and always extend his pretrial detention. The court appearances give his family and friends a chance to see him, if only for a few minutes.

Stock market today: Wall Street holds near records as it coasts to another winning month and quarter

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are holding relatively steady as Wall Street coasts into the close of its latest winning month and quarter. The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher Thursday after setting an all-time high the day before. It’s roared roughly 10% in the first three months of the year as the market continues a nearly unstoppable run that began last October. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq composite were both virtually unchanged and close to their records. Treasury yields were holding relatively steady in the bond market. Both the U.S. bond and stock markets will be closed for Good Friday.

Home Depot buying supplier to professional contractors in a deal valued at about $18.25B

Home Depot is buying SRS Distribution, a materials provider for professionals, in a deal valued at approximately $18.25 billion. The home improvement retailer said Thursday that the acquisition will help speed up its growth with the contractors. SRS provides materials for those including professional roofers, landscapers and pool contractors.

Baltimore bridge collapse: Ships carrying cars and heavy equipment need to find a new harbor

Manufacturers and shippers are scrambling to figure out where they can load or unload cargo while the main operations at the Port of Baltimore remain closed due to Tuesday’s deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Supply chain experts say other ports up and down the East Coast are likely to absorb much of Baltimore’s traffic, avoiding a crisis. But not without some longer shipping times and upheaval. Baltimore is the ninth-busiest port for international cargo in the nation, but it leads U.S. ports in “roll on, roll off” cargo. That means goods with wheels, composed largely of automobiles but including construction and agricultural equipment.

US changes how it categorizes people by race and ethnicity. It’s the first revision in 27 years

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — For the first time in 27 years, the U.S. government is changing how it categorizes people by race and ethnicity. The goal is to more accurately count residents, including those who identify as Hispanic and of Middle Eastern and North African heritage. The revisions announced Thursday are the latest efforts to categorize and define the people of the United States. This evolving process often reflects changes in social attitudes and immigration. Under the revisions, questions about race and ethnicity that previously were asked separately will be combined into a single question. A Middle Eastern and North African category also will be created.

Applications for US unemployment benefits dip to 210,000 in strong job market

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of Americans signing up for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, another sign that the labor market remains strong and most workers enjoy extraordinary job security. The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims dipped by 2,000 to 210,000. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week ups and downs, fell by 750 to 211,000. Overall, 1.8 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended March 16, up 24,000 from the week before.

It’s a bittersweet Easter for chocolate lovers and African cocoa farmers but big brands see profits

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Shoppers may get a bitter surprise in their Easter baskets this year. Chocolate eggs and bunnies are more expensive than ever as changing climate patterns eat into global cocoa supplies and the earnings of farmers in Africa. Cocoa is the main ingredient in chocolate, and about three-quarters of it comes from trees in West Africa. Severe seasonal winds and heavy rainfall have cut the amount harvested in recent months. The global price of cocoa has soared to record highs. Farmers who harvest cacao beans say the increases aren’t enough to cover their lower yields and higher production costs. But big confectionery companies have maintained profit margins by raising chocolate prices.

Ex-Gucci designer Alessandro Michele named the new creative head at Valentino

PARIS (AP) — The former Gucci designer Alessandro Michele has been named the new creative director at Valentino, following the sudden departure last week of Pierpaolo Piccioli after 25 years. Valentino confirmed the move in a statement Thursday, calling it the start of a new journey aimed at continuing to see the brand’s unique values and heritage shine around the world. The statement went on to say that Michele will be based in Rome, where Valentino was founded in 1960. Michele, who’s 51 years old, left Gucci in 2022, after a widely popular creative tenure.

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