Saturday, April 20, 2024

Business Briefs: US treasury secretary is in China to talk trade, anti-money laundering and Chinese ‘overproduction’

by Associated Press

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has arrived in a China for five days of meetings in a country that’s determined to avoid open conflict with the United States. Yet the world’s two largest economies still appear to be hashing out the rules on how to compete against each other. There are tensions over Chinese government support for the manufacturing of electric vehicles and solar panels, just as the U.S. government ramps up its own aid for those tech sectors. There are also differences on trade, ownership of TikTok, access to computer chips and national security. Yellen says the U.S. needs “a level playing field.”

Stock market today: Asian shares mostly rise cheered by Wall Street finish

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly higher after a firm finish on Wall Street, as expectations remained solid for U.S. interest rate cuts this year. Benchmarks rose Thursday in Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney, and declined in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Oil prices rose. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 inched up by 0.1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1%, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.2%. Treasury yields eased in the bond market after a report said growth for U.S. services businesses cooled last month. That could keep the Federal Reserve on track to cut interest rates several times this year.

Should you itemize or take a standard deduction on your tax return? Here’s what to know

NEW YORK (AP) — When you’re doing your taxes, it can sometimes be hard to know whether to itemize or take the standard deduction. Tax pros say itemizing generally only makes sense if your itemized deductions together add up to more than the current standard deduction. The three biggest potential deductions for most people are mortgage interest, charitable donations in cash or in property, and eligible state and local taxes. In some cases, like student loan interest, you can claim a deduction even without itemizing.

Powell: Fed still sees rate cuts this year; election timing won’t affect decision

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials will likely reduce their benchmark interest rate later this year, Chair Jerome Powell said, despite recent reports showing that the U.S. economy is still strong and that U.S. inflation picked up in January and February. “The recent data do not … materially change the overall picture,” Powell said in a speech at Stanford University, “which continues to be one of solid growth, a strong but rebalancing labor market, and inflation moving down toward 2 percent on a sometimes bumpy path.” Powell also sought to dispel any notion that the Fed’s interest-rate decisions might be affected by this year’s presidential election.

Inflation has slid again in Europe. Here’s what that means for interest rates

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Inflation has fallen again in Europe, to 2.4% in March. It’s welcome news for consumers since spikes in food prices have eased. The annual figure for the 20 countries that use the euro currency has come in below what financial markets expected and marks a decline from 2.6% in February. The figures released Wednesday mean the European Central Bank is getting closer to achieving its goal of 2% inflation. Analysts say the decline keeps the ECB on track for an interest rate cut in June. The pressure is on to reduce borrowing costs because the economy is failing to grow.

Ford to delay production of new electric pickup and large SUV as US EV sales growth slows

DETROIT (AP) — With U.S. electric vehicle sales starting to slow, Ford Motor Co. says it will delay rolling out new electric pickup trucks and a new large electric SUV as it adds gas-electric hybrids to its model lineup. The Dearborn, Michigan, company said Thursday that a new electric pickup to be built at a new factory in Tennessee will be delayed by a year until 2026. The big electric SUV, with three rows of seats, will be delayed by two years until 2027 at the company’s factory in Oakville, Ontario near Toronto. The retreat comes as U.S. electric vehicle sales growth slowed to 2.7% in the first quarter of the year, far below the 47% increase that fueled record sales last year.

Free blue checks are back for some accounts on Elon Musk’s X. Not everyone is happy about it

NEW YORK (AP) — Elon Musk’s X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has started restoring complimentary blue checks to some of its users. That’s caused confusion online. Last year, X began removing the verification badges from users who do not pay for the platform’s new Premium subscription — stripping checkmarks from an array of celebrities and other prominent accounts. But on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, numerous users reported seeing the blue checks return or appear for the first time despite not paying for them. Musk, who bought the platform for $44 billion back in October 2022, said last week that all X accounts with more than 2,500 verified subscriber followers would get Premium features — which includes the blue check — for free going forward.

ALS drug will be pulled from US market after study showed patients didn’t benefit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of a drug for Lou Gehrig’s disease that recently failed in a study says it will pull the medicine from the U.S. market. Amylyx Pharmaceuticals said Thursday it will halt marketing in the U.S. and Canada. In March, the drugmaker announced that its drug had failed to show any benefit for patients in a 600-person study. The drug’s failure is a major disappointment for ALS patients and advocates who pressed the FDA to approve it. Amylyx’s voluntary withdrawal resolves a potential dilemma for the FDA, which had no way of quickly forcing the drug from the U.S. market. That’s because regulators granted the drug full approval in 2022, despite the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company presenting only preliminary study results.

What is next for billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s giving?

Much about billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s giving remains a mystery, but a recent round of grants to nonprofits offer some insights. The grants announced in March were largely in line with Scott’s other donations in terms of themes. The database of gifts on Scott’s website shows organizations that identified as working on “race and ethnicity” and “youth development” were the two largest categories. A slightly larger percentage of the most recent grants went to democracy-focused organizations compared to Scott’s overall record of giving. Scott came into her fortune after divorcing Amazon-found Jeff Bezos. She says she has donated more than $17.3 billion since 2019.

In the coliseum of American over-the-topness, WrestleMania stands alone

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — From the start, WrestleMania was born to be different. Mr. T and Muhammad Ali helped pack Madison Square Garden in 1985, and “The Showcase of the Immortals” quickly turned a night of wrestling usually reserved for smoky arenas into the Super Bowl of entertainment. As WrestleMania approaches 40, it’s never been bigger. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is back to perform in one of the main events this weekend’s WrestleMania in Philadelphia, where more than 70,000 fans each night are expected to pack the NFL stadium that is home to the Eagles.

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