Financial News

Wednesday, March 8th
March 7, 2023
March 8, 2023
Financial News

Even if you haven’t tried artificial intelligence tools that can write essays and poems or conjure new images on command, chances are the companies that make your household products are already starting to do so. Mattel has put the AI image generator DALL-E to work by having it come up with ideas for new Hot Wheels toy cars. Used vehicle seller CarMax is summarizing thousands of customer reviews with the same “generative” AI technology that powers the popular chatbot ChatGPT. But AI experts warn that businesses should carefully consider potential harms to customers, society and their own reputations before rushing to embrace these products.

Powell signals increased rate hikes if economy stays strong

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve could increase the size of its interest rate hikes and raise borrowing costs to higher levels than previously projected if evidence continues to point to a robust economy, Chair Jerome Powell says in prepared testimony to a Senate panel. “If the totality of the data were to indicate that faster tightening is warranted, we would be prepared to increase the pace of rate hikes,” he says. The Fed raised its benchmark rate by a quarter-point in early February, after imposing a half-point increase in December and four three-quarter-point hikes before that. Over the past year, the central bank has raised its key rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, eight times.

TikTok renews push to ease fears over European data security

LONDON (AP) — TikTok has unveiled new measures to protect European user data as it takes steps to head off further government bans on employees using the Chinese-owned video-sharing app on their work phones. A TikTok official said in a blog post Wednesday that the company will tighten access to user data in a process overseen by outside auditors as well as beef up privacy protection. Western countries fear TikTok could pose risks to cybersecurity and data privacy. The company also pointed to plans to localize European data storage with new centers in Dublin and Norway operated by third parties. It’s similar to TikTok’s approach in 2020 when it teamed up with Oracle to avoid a U.S. ban from the Trump administration.

January US job openings dip, but still high at 10.8 million

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers posted 10.8 million job openings in January, indicating the American job market continues to run too hot for the inflation fighters at the Federal Reserve. Job openings fell from 11.2 million in December but remained high by historical standards, the Labor Department reported Wednesday, but layoffs rose in January. For 20 straight months, employers have posted at least 10 million openings — a level never reached before 2021 in Labor Department data going back to 2000. The number of openings in January exceeded what economists had forecast and meant that there were about two vacancies for every unemployed American.

Swiss bankers accused of lax control of Putin pal’s accounts

GENEVA (AP) — Four former bankers with the now-shuttered Swiss affiliate of a major Russian bank have gone on trial over allegations that they didn’t properly check accounts opened in the name of a Russian cellist with longtime ties to President Vladimir Putin. The one-day trial in Zurich district court Wednesday stems from information about secretive financial flows revealed in the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 that implicated musician and Putin’s childhood friend Sergei Roldugin. The four former bankers are charged with failing to adequately check whether Roldugin actually owned assets in the accounts. Putin has denied the accusations, and the Kremlin didn’t comment on the trial Wednesday.

Maker of unproven birth drug Makena to pull from US market

WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of an unproven drug intended to prevent premature births says it will voluntarily remove the product from the United States. The late Tuesday announcement comes after regulators planned to move ahead with a long-delayed effort to force it from the market. More than four years ago, Switzerland-based Covis Pharma’s drug, Makena, failed to show a benefit in helping mothers carry their pregnancies to term. The injectable drug has become an example of the challenges the Food and Drug Administration faces to withdraw a medication when the manufacturer won’t do so voluntarily. The timing of the drug’s removal remains uncertain.

As bourbon booms, thirst for rare brands breeds skullduggery

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The best bourbons are buttery, smooth and oaky, and a growing cult of aficionados is willing to pay an astonishing sum to score even a shot of these premium spirits. Some are even willing to bend or break laws. In Oregon, a criminal investigation is under way after an internal probe concluded several state liquor officials used their clout to obtain scarce bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle. That brand is so popular that it became the focus of crimes in at least three other states. The cases underscore how the elite bourbon business is booming. An industry group says revenues for makers of super-premium American whiskey, including bourbon, grew 141% over the past five years.

Adidas earnings take beating on breakup with Ye, China slump

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Adidas’ breakup with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West and the inability to sell his popular Yeezy line of shoes helped batter earnings at the end of last year. The German shoe and sportswear maker said Wednesday that higher supply costs and slumping revenue in China also helped lead to a net loss of 513 million euros or $540 million in the fourth quarter. That contrasts with a profit of 213 million euros in the same period a year ago. More losses could be ahead as the company forecast a 500 million-euro hit to earnings going forward this year if it decides not to repurpose the remaining Yeezy products it has in stock.

Wall Street steadies itself after painful drop on rate fears

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are steadying on Wall Street a day after sinking to one of their worst days of the year. The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher in Wednesday morning trading. Stocks are coming off a sharp drop the prior day after the head of the Federal Reserve warned it could speed up its hikes to interest rates if pressure on inflation stays high. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said again Wednesday pressure on inflation seems to running higher than expected. But he also stressed the Fed hasn’t made a decision yet on the size of its future hikes.

TikTok campaign targets Biden on proposed Alaska oil project

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A social media campaign is urging President Joe Biden to reject an oil development project on Alaska’s North Slope. The #StopWillow campaign, mostly on TikTok, has tallied more than 50 million views. Its popularity reflects the unease that young Americans feel about climate change and their concern that Biden will not keep his campaign pledge to curtail oil drilling. Many Alaska Native leaders with ties to the petroleum-rich North Slope support ConocoPhillips Alaska’s project and say they need the mitigation funds and jobs it would bring to remote villages. The Biden administration could announce its decision as early as this week.