Judge Keeps FTX Executives’ Plea Agreements Secret to Bring Founder to US
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has kept secret that two of Sam Bankman-Fried’s top executives were cooperating with investigators so the cryptocurrency entrepreneur wouldn’t panic and fight extradition from the Bahamas to the United States. Manhattan federal judge Ronnie Abrams’ decision was revealed Friday with the release of transcripts of guilty pleas from Bankman-Fried’s top executives in the collapsed cryptocurrency empire. Bankman-Fried, 30, was brought to New York on Wednesday. A Manhattan judge released him on $250 million bail to live with his parents in California until trial. Later Friday, Abrams withdrew from the case, saying her husband’s law firm advised FTX in 2021.
An inflation measure tracked by the Fed eases to 5.5%
WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of inflation closely watched by the Federal Reserve slowed last month, another sign that a long run in consumer prices appears to be easing. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed prices rose 5.5% in November from a year earlier, up from a revised 6.1% increase in October. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation increased by 4.7% compared to last year. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.1% from October to November, after rising 0.4% a month earlier. Core prices rose by 0.2%.
Elon Musk tells investors he will stop selling Tesla shares
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – CEO Elon Musk says he won’t sell any more shares in Tesla for 18 months or more, likely an effort to comfort the electric vehicle company’s shareholders who have seen shares lose nearly half their value her since that time. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was completed in October. Musk dumped another $2.58 billion worth of Tesla stock last week and has sold about $23 billion of his car company’s stock since April, when he began building a position in Twitter. Tesla shares fell more than 1% on Friday to $123.74. They were around $360 on April 1st.
The funding bill targets websites amid concerns about retail theft
NEW YORK (AP) – Retailers are scoring a victory in the government-wide spending bill. The $1.7 trillion funding package contains legislation that would force online marketplaces such as Amazon and Facebook to verify high-volume sellers amid heightened concerns about retail theft. Brick and mortar retailers have expressed concerns about the amount of goods being stolen from their stores and then sold online. The bill, called the INFORM ACT, aims to combat the sale of these and other counterfeit goods. It would force online marketplaces to verify certain types of information — such as bank account, tax ID and contact details — of sellers who make at least 200 unique sales and have earned a minimum of $5,000 in a given year.
Facebook parent Meta to pay $725 million to settle user data case
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Facebook’s parent company has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a lawsuit that claims the world’s largest social media platform allowed millions of its users’ personal data to be leaked Cambridge Analytica. This is a firm that backed Donald Trump’s victorious presidential campaign in 2016. The terms of the deal reached by Meta Platforms, the holding company for Facebook and Instagram, were revealed in court documents filed late Thursday. It will still have to be approved by a judge at a San Francisco federal court hearing scheduled for March.
Wall Street ends higher, still ends up with third weekly loss
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street after a series of mixed economic news. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Friday. The benchmark index is still down with its third straight weekly loss. A key measure of inflation continued to slow, but is still much higher than anyone wants to see. Also, consumer spending growth weakened last month by more than expected, but incomes were slightly stronger than expected. Markets are in a tricky spot where relatively stable economic data reduces the risk of a recession but also raises the threat of higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve.
Microsoft to battle US over $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard deal
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) – Microsoft is headed for a battle with the Federal Trade Commission over whether the U.S. will block tech giant Activision Blizzard’s planned takeover of video game company. Microsoft on Thursday filed a formal response to the FTC’s complaint declaring the $68.7 billion deal an illegal acquisition that should be stopped. For years, Microsoft has avoided the political backlash directed at its fellow tech giants Amazon, Google and Meta. But the software giant now appears to be on a collision course with US regulators emboldened by President Joe Biden’s push to toughen anti-competitive behavior. The FTC claims the merger could violate antitrust laws by squeezing competitors of Microsoft’s Xbox game console and subscription business.
Germany officially suspends guarantees for business with Iran
BERLIN (AP) – The German government says it is officially suspending export credits and investment guarantees for business in Iran, in the wake of authorities’ crackdown on protests. The Economy Ministry said on Friday that it has also suspended “other economic formats” including a dialogue on energy issues, in view of the “very serious situation in Iran”. Export credit guarantees protect German companies from losses when exports are not paid for. Investment guarantees are issued to protect direct investments by German companies from political risk in the countries where they are made.
The S&P 500 rose 22.43 points, or 0.6%, to 3,844.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 176.44 points, or 0.5%, to 33,203.93. The Nasdaq gained 21.74 points, or 0.2%, to 10,497.86. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 6.85 points, or 0.4%, to 1,760.93.
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