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Financial News

Inflation pressures put Powell in spotlight before Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last appeared before Congress, in June 2022, inflation had reached a four-decade high of nearly 9% and showed no sign of easing. This week, Powell returns to Capitol Hill for two days of hearings under far different circumstances. The Fed has sharply raised interest rates in the past year to combat accelerating prices, and year-over-year inflation has dropped for seven straight months. Yet if anything, Powell’s task has grown even more complicated. Just a month ago, the economy appeared to be cooling and inflation steadily declining. But a spate of government data has since painted a very different picture. Inflation pressures are easing more gradually and fitfully than economists had assumed.

Unions vow to shut France’s economy down amid pension battle

PARIS (AP) — Unions are threatening to shut down France’s economy this week in what they hope is their toughest riposte yet to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age. The first actions started Monday as truckers sporadically blocked major highway arteries and interchanges in go-slow actions dubbed “escargot” operations across several French regions. Unions plan an open-ended strike on the national rail service starting Monday evening. The government is bracing for the biggest disruptions Tuesday when unions plan strikes across multiple sectors and protests. The retirement reform would raise the official pension age from 62 to 64. The bill is under debate in parliament.

Stocks tick higher on Wall Street to add to their recent run

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are ticking higher to add a bit more to Wall Street’s newfound strength. The S&P 500 was 0.6% higher Monday after coming off its first winning week in the last four. The Dow and the Nasdaq also rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury eased a bit lower to take off some pressure on stocks. The stock market has found some footing over the last week after a roller-coaster start to the year where a swift rise gave way to a sharp tumble. At the center of it all has been high inflation and expectations for what the Federal Reserve will do about it.

Chinese planners promise 12 million jobs, economic rebound

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese economic officials have expressed confidence they can meet this year’s growth target of “around 5%” by generating 12 million new jobs and encouraging consumer spending. The Cabinet planning officials announced no details of spending or other initiatives to revive growth that slumped to 3% last year, the second-lowest in decades. But they said they plan an array of measures to raise incomes and encourage innovation. Efforts to revive the Chinese economy have global implications after weak retail, auto and housing sales depressed demand for imports. The country is the biggest market for its Asian neighbors and an important revenue source for Western companies.

EU watchdog seeks clarity about Qatar travel freebies

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s administrative watchdog is trying to find out how a top transport official was permitted to fly to Qatar with tickets paid for by the government there. European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly’s inquiries come as a major corruption scandal linked to the Gulf state roils the EU parliament. In a letter made public on Monday, O’Reilly noted that European Commission transport department chief Henrik Hololei “travelled a number of times between 2015 and 2021 at the expense of the Qatari government or organizations that are close to it.” The trips happened when the department was negotiating an EU-Qatar air transport agreement. O’Reilly says it raises “legitimate questions around possible undue influence of the EU’s decision-making in this area.”

‘Hamilton’ fundraiser set for Hispanic Federation, Flamboyan

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will bring his award-winning musical back to Puerto Rico for two weeks of performances in June, including a fundraiser for the Hispanic Federation and education nonprofit, the Flamboyan Foundation. The return engagement is Miranda’s way of showcasing what philanthropy has accomplished in rebuilding Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017, as well as what remains to be done. As part of the June 16 fundraiser, Miranda will reunite with “Hamilton” original Broadway cast members Renee Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson and Leslie Odom Jr., for their first public appearance together since 2017 — though they will not perform in the show.

Fox libel defense at odds with top GOP presidential foes

NEW YORK (AP) — A $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News for its coverage of false claims surrounding the 2020 presidential election isn’t the only thing putting pressure on the standard for U.S. libel law. Two politicians popular with Fox’s audience, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have advocated for the Supreme Court to revisit the libel standard that has protected media organizations for more than half a century. Current libel law requires plaintiffs to prove that a news organization acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Fox is using that standard to defend its actions that promoted false claims of voter fraud.

South African leader grapples with ever-worsening power cuts

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s ever-worsening power crisis — putting homes and businesses without electricity for up to 10 hours per day — is strangling Africa’s most developed economy. President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes that by creating a new Cabinet post, electricity minister, his government will be able to curb the rampant corruption and mismanagement that have put the country in the dark. Ramaphosa is to name the new minister in a reshuffle later Monday. The new minister will focus solely on dealing with the crippling power cuts, Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address last month, when he declared a state of disaster to deal with the electricity shortages.

Altria invests $2.75B in rival startup NJOY after Juul exit

Days after exiting its stake in troubled electronic cigarette maker Juul Labs, Altria announced a $2.75 billion investment in electronic cigarette startup NJOY Holdings Inc. As part of the deal, tobacco company Altria Group Inc., which makes Marlboro cigarettes, will have full global ownership of NJOY’s e-vapor product portfolio, including pod-based e-vapor product NJOY ACE.

UK aims to deport Channel migrants, but critics skeptical

LONDON (AP) — The British government says it will introduce legislation to ban anyone who arrives in the U.K. in small boats across the English Channel from ever settling in the country. The government said a bill that’s expected to be announced Tuesday will bar asylum claims by anyone who reaches Britain by unauthorized means. Those who arrive will be detained and then deported “to their home country or a safe third country.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the law would stop the “immoral” business of smuggling gangs who send desperate people on hazardous journeys across one of the world’s busies shipping lanes. But critics say the plan is both unethical and unworkable.