February 5, 2023

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A diminished US workforce could lead Fed to keep rates high

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers are posting more job openings than they did before the pandemic struck 2½ years ago. Problem is, there aren’t enough applicants. The labor force is smaller than when the pandemic struck. The reasons vary — an unexpected wave of retirements, a drop in legal immigration, the loss of workers to COVID-19 deaths and illnesses. The result, though, is that employers are having to compete for a smaller pool of workers and to offer steadily higher pay to attract them. It’s a trend that economists say could fuel wage growth and high inflation well into 2023. As a result, the Fed is expected Wednesday to raise its benchmark short-term rate for a seventh time this year.

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Shoppers, workers clash over post-pandemic expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — More than two and a half years into the pandemic, many businesses have had to curb their hours of operations or services as they continue to grapple with labor shortages. The National Restaurant Association’s most recent monthly survey of 4,200 restaurant operators found that 60% of restaurants reduced hours of operation on the days they were open, while 38% closed on the days they would normally be open compared to right before the pandemic. The changes are creating a disconnect between customers who want to shop and dine like they used to during pre-pandemic times and exhausted employees who no longer want to work those long hours. That push-pull is only being heightened during the busy holiday shopping season.

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Bankman-Fried to face off with lawmakers over FTX collapse

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The former CEO of the failed cryptocurrency firm FTX will testify before a congressional committee Tuesday, his first appearance under oath since FTX filed for bankruptcy roughly a month ago. Sam Bankman-Fried is scheduled to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee, along with the company’s current CEO, John Ray III. Bankman-Fried has done several media interviews since his firm collapsed but has not publicly testified about what happened. He is expected to appear remotely from the Bahamas. FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11, when the firm ran out of money after the cryptocurrency equivalent of a bank run.

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Amgen to buy Horizon Therapeutics in $26.4B deal

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Amgen is spending more than $26 billion to dive deeper into rare disease treatments with a deal for drugmaker Horizon Therapeutics. The biotech drug developer said Monday that it will pay $116.50 in cash for each share of Horizon, which makes a treatment for thyroid eye disease that generated more than $1 billion in its first full year on the market. Shares of Horizon jumped in early trading Monday. U.S.-traded shares of the Irish company had already soared about 30% since it confirmed late last month that it had begun “highly preliminary discussions” about an acquisition.

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EPA: US fuel economy flat in 2021, emissions down slightly

DETROIT (AP) — A government report says fuel economy for 2021 model year vehicles in the U.S. stayed flat with 2020 as people continued to buy less-efficient trucks and SUVs. The fleet of new vehicles got 25.4 miles per gallon (10.8 kilometers per liter) for the model year, while greenhouse gas emissions dropped slightly to a record low of 347 grams per mile. That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency in its annual Automotive Trends Report published Monday. The 2021 fuel economy figure ties a record set in model year 2020.

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Twitter relaunching subscriber service after debacle

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter is once again attempting to launch its premium service, a month after a previous attempt failed. The social media company said it would let users buy subscriptions to Twitter Blue to get a blue check mark and access special features starting Monday. Businesses are also now getting a separate gold check mark. The blue mark was originally given to companies, celebrities, government entities and journalists verified by the platform. After Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in October he launched a service granting blue checks to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. But it was inundated by imposter accounts, so Twitter suspended the service.

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Supreme Court won’t block California flavored tobacco ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has refused a request from tobacco companies to stop California from enforcing a ban on flavored tobacco products that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November. R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies sought the high court’s intervention to keep the ban from taking effect by Dec. 21. There was no additional comment from the justices Monday and no noted dissents. The ban was first passed by the state legislature two years ago but it never took effect after tobacco companies gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. But nearly two-thirds of voters approved of banning the sale of everything from cotton-candy vaping juice to menthol cigarettes.

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UK economy shrinks 0.3% in three months through October

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s economy shrank in the three months through October, confirming the toll rampant inflation and rising interest rates are having on business and industry. The Office for National Statistics said Monday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, fell by 0.3% in the period when compared with the three months through July. The decline came even as monthly estimates showed GDP increased by 0.5% in October after a 0.6% drop in September, when economic activity was artificially reduced by an extra public holiday to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

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USA Today suspends weekly book bestseller list after layoffs

NEW YORK (AP) — USA Today’s weekly chart of top-selling books is on indefinite hiatus after the newspaper’s parent company Gannett laid off the editor in charge of compiling it. Gannett laid off hundreds of staffers earlier this month, including Mary Cadden. A newspaper spokesperson said further updates would be shared in 2023. Like ones from The New York Times and Amazon.com, USA Today’s list is closely followed in the publishing industry. The newspaper drew upon a wide range of outlets to compile the 150 bestselling books from a given week. The USA Today list combines hardcover, paperback and e-book sales.

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The S&P 500 added 56.18 points, or 1.4%, to 3,990.56. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 528.58 points, or 1.6%, to 34,005.04. The Nasdaq rose 139.12 points, or 1.3%, to 11,143.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies tacked on 21.95 points, or 1.2%, to 1,818.61.

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