Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 |
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Resilient US consumers spend slightly more in August
Consumers spent a bit more in August than the previous month, a sign the economy is holding up even as inflation lifts prices for food, rent, and other essentials. Americans boosted their spending at stores and for services such as haircuts by 0.4% in August, after it fell 0.2% in July, the Commerce Department said Friday. The government’s report also showed that an inflation gauge closely monitored by the Federal Reserve rose 0.3% last month, faster than July.
Porsche shares jump in blockbuster market debut
Amid fears of recession and tumbling stock prices, the biggest market debut of the year is that of a carmaker whose vehicles can cost six digits. Porsche became the breakout star of the markets when it began trading Thursday, in one of Europe’s largest initial public offerings. Shares in Porsche rose 2% in their debut on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, to 84 euros each, valuing the company at 77 billion euros, or $75 billion. The deal’s underwriters had priced the offering the night before at 82.50 euros. By the market close Thursday, trading was flat at 82.62 euros a share.
Even as oil prices ease, US keeps tapping strategic reserve
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden has overseen the largest sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ever, to ease prices at the gasoline pump. Having released 160 million barrels of crude since March, more than one-quarter of the stockpile, the Energy Department has reduced the reserve to its lowest level in four decades. Some oil experts say continuing the withdrawals could test the nation’s energy security. But even though oil prices have fallen sharply from their peak, the administration has decided to extend the releases, at a lower rate, for at least an additional month.
Meta will freeze most hiring, Zuckerberg tells employees
In May, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg froze hiring for engineers and low-level data scientists. In July, Zuckerberg warned employees to buckle up for an “intense period” of 18 to 24 months. This week, he told his employees that the company would freeze hiring and reduce budgets, leading to layoffs in parts of the company that have previously seen unchecked growth. It was the most recent sign of trouble for the company previously called Facebook. This year’s quarterly earnings reports have been less rosy, as Meta grapples with upheaval in the global economy as well as competitive and regulatory threats.
Fed announces plan to assess climate risks to banks
Six of America’s largest banks will assess their exposure to climate risks through a pilot program next year, the Federal Reserve Board announced Thursday, as regulators push to ensure that large financial companies are resilient to emerging threats. Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo are participating in the program, the Fed said, noting that the plan is “designed to enhance the ability of supervisors and firms to measure and manage climate-related financial risks.” The exercise “is exploratory in nature and does not have capital consequences,” the Fed said in its announcement.
Supply chain issues could slow fix of Florida electric grid
Crews are starting to fix Florida’s electric grid by repairing and rebuilding where lines were damaged or flooded by Hurricane Ian. Florida Power & Light said Friday evening that it had restored power to 1.2 million customers but 850,000 remained without power. The company’s CEO says Florida Power & Light has enough poles, generators and wire in stockpile to the repair work, but power-industry officials warn supply chain issues could threaten the grid if there’s another natural disaster somewhere else in the U.S. They say there’s a shortage of distribution transformers that take electricity from high-voltage lines and reduce it to levels that can be used in homes and businesses.
Pay bumps coming for more farmworkers, long denied overtime
Harvest season means long days for U.S. farmworkers — but usually no overtime pay. Federal law exempts farms from rules entitling most workers to 1.5 times their regular wage when they work more than 40 hours in a week. New York is now joining several states that have begun to change this rule. The state’s labor commissioner on Friday approved a recommendation to phase in a 40-hour threshold for farmworker overtime over the next decade. Right now, farmworkers in New York qualify for overtime pay after they have worked 60 hours in a week. Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon called the plan “the best path forward” for farmworker equity.
By wire sources
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