Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Business Briefs: Another month of robust US job growth points to continued economic strength

by Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers delivered another outpouring of jobs in March, adding a sizzling 303,000 workers and bolstering hopes that the economy can vanquish inflation without succumbing to a recession in the face of high interest rates. Last month’s job growth was up from a revised 270,000 in February and was far above the 200,000 jobs that economists had forecast. The hiring gain reflected the economy’s ability to withstand the pressure of high borrowing costs resulting from the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. The unemployment rate dipped from 3.9% to 3.8%. The economy is sure to weigh on Americans’ minds as the November presidential vote nears and they assess President Joe Biden’s re-election bid.

Stock market today: Wall Street edges higher following surprisingly strong US jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher on Wall Street and Treasury yields rose following a hot U.S. jobs report. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 113 points and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.8%. U.S. employers added a surprisingly strong number of jobs in March, which bodes well for the economy but could complicate the Federal Reserve’s path ahead for interest rates. Wall Street is hoping the central bank will start cutting interest rates in June, but strong economic data and worries about inflation reheating could give the Fed a reason to hold off on easing its benchmark rate.

Yellen calls for level playing field for US workers and firms during China visit

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — The U.S. treasury secretary has called for a level playing field for American companies and workers as she opened a five-day visit to China in a major industrial and export hub. Janet Yellen told Vice Premier He Lifeng and the governor of Guangdong province on Friday that the U.S. and others are concerned about spillovers from industrial overcapacity in China. She also met with U.S. business leaders. Yellen has telegraphed that she will raise in her talks what the U.S. considers unfair Chinese trade practices. China has pushed back against concerns about manufacturing overcapacity and other trade-related issues expressed by both the U.S. and Europe.

When Trump needs cash, a California bank and one of its top shareholders have come to the rescue

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump left the White House facing a cash crunch that threatened his business empire. But soon a new source stepped forward to provide a financial lifeline. Records show Axos Bank, as well as its largest individual shareholder, have extended more than $500 million in financing that has benefited Trump. The money has helped pay off debts, covered the down payment of a massive civil fraud penalty and helped Trump pocket a tidy profit while escaping from a lease on a money-losing hotel. Axos Bank officials, as well as Hankey, have said that the deals offer a financial upside. But as Trump pursues the White House, ethics experts say they could also grant Hankey and Axos Bank outsize sway in a future Trump administration

McDonald’s buys its Israeli restaurants from franchisee who sparked costly boycotts

McDonald’s is buying its restaurants in Israel from a longtime franchisee, hoping to reset sales that have slumped due to boycotts in the region. The Chicago-based burger giant said Friday it will buy Alonyal Limited, which owns and operates 225 restaurants in Israel. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. McDonald’s says it will operate the restaurants and retain more than 5,000 employees. Alonyal has operated McDonald’s in Israel for more than 30 years. But the franchisee sparked controversy when it announced in October that it was providing free meals for Israeli soldiers. That sparked boycotts across the Middle East and in Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia.

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.

J&J to pump another $13B into its MedTech business with Shockwave deal

Johnson & Johnson is pumping more money into heart care with a roughly $13 billion deal for Shockwave Medical, which specializes in technology that helps open clogged arteries. The health care giant said Friday that it will spend $335 in cash for each share of Shockwave. The deal has already been approved by the boards of directors from both companies. Shockwave specializes in intravascular lithotripsy, technology that uses sonic pressure waves to crack calcium lesions in arteries and restore blood flow, along with stenting. The technology is used to treat coronary artery and peripheral artery disease.

Tech companies want to build artificial general intelligence. But who decides when AGI is attained?

There’s a race underway to build artificial general intelligence, a futuristic vision of machines that are broadly as smart as humans or at least can do many things as well as people can. Achieving such a concept is the driving mission of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and a priority for elite research wings of tech giants Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft. It’s also a cause for concern for the world’s governments. Leading AI scientists published research Thursday in the journal Science warning that unchecked AI agents with “long-term planning” skills could pose an existential risk to humanity.

UK airports get more time to put in new scanners that will allow more liquids and packed laptops

LONDON (AP) — The British government will grant extensions to several large U.K. airports unable to meet the June 1 deadline to fully install new scanning technology. The new scanners will allow passengers to take 2 liters, or 70 ounces, of liquid in their hand luggage — rather than the current paltry 100 milliliters, which is about 3.5 ounces. New rules will also mean laptops and tablets won’t need to be taken out of bags — saving even more time. The restrictions were introduced around the world in 2006 following a foiled terror plot to blow up planes flying from London to the U.S. with homemade liquid bombs. The British government said Thursday it will grant an extension of up to a year.

Hits for sale: Notable artists who have had their music catalogs sell for big money

Kiss agreed to sell their catalog, brand name and IP to Swedish company Pophouse in a deal estimated to be over $300 million. They’re the latest to participate in an ongoing trend of blockbuster acts and their rights holders inking deals to sell their back-catalogs, often for impressive sums. It’s big business, especially considering that two-thirds of all music streamed is made up of catalog music, and that streaming accounts for 84% of all music industry revenue. AP looks at deals struck by Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Taylor Swift and other notable artists.

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