Business Highlights: Fed minutes, Meta fines

January 4, 2023 GMT

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Fed minutes: Officials cited strong hiring to justify hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials suggested at their most recent meeting that a continuing streak of robust hiring could keep inflation elevated and was a key reason why they expected to raise interest rates this year more than they had previously forecast. In the minutes of their mid-December meeting released Wednesday, the officials also underscored that a slowdown in their rate hikes — from four three-quarter point hikes in a row to a half-point increase — “was not an indication of any weakening” in their resolve to bring inflation back down to their 2% target. Nor did the smaller increase signal “a judgment that inflation was already on a persistent downward path,” the minutes said.

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Meta fined 390M euros in latest European privacy crackdown

LONDON (AP) — European Union regulators on Wednesday hit Facebook parent Meta with hundreds of millions in fines for privacy violations and banned the company from forcing users in the 27-nation bloc to agree to personalized ads based on their online activity. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission imposed two fines totaling 390 million euros ($414 million) in its decision in two cases that could shake up Meta’s business model of targeting users with ads based on what they do online. The company says it will appeal. A decision in a third case involving Meta’s WhatsApp messaging service is expected later this month.

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Twitter says it will relax ban on political advertising

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter says it will ease up on its 3-year-old ban on political advertising, the latest change by Elon Musk as he tries to pump up revenue after purchasing the social media platform last year. The company tweeted late Tuesday that “we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US.” Twitter banned all political advertising in 2019, reacting to growing concern about misinformation spreading on social media. At the time, then-CEO Jack Dorsey said that while internet ads are powerful and effective for commercial advertisers, “that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”

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Salesforce to lay off 8,000 workers in latest tech purge

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Business software maker Salesforce is laying off about 8,000 employees, or 10% of its workforce, as major technology companies continue to prune payrolls that rapidly expanded during the pandemic lockdown. The cuts announced Wednesday are by far the largest in the 23-year history of a San Francisco company founded by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff. Benioff pioneered the method of leasing software services to internet-connected devices — a concept now known as “cloud computing.” The layoffs are being made on the heels of a shake-up in Salesforce’s top ranks. Benioff’s hand-picked co-CEO Bret Taylor, who also was Twitter’s chairman at the time of its tortuous $44 billion sale to billionaire Elon Musk, left Salesforce.

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Stocks end higher after Fed meeting minutes, strong job data

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks on Wall Street closed broadly higher Wednesday after wavering for much of the day as investors weighed the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting of policymakers and welcomed encouraging data on job openings. The major indexes rallied following a government report showing that job openings increased more than expected in November. Stocks then shed some of their gains after the minutes from the Fed meeting last month underscored how the central bank remains determined to keep rates high to crush inflation. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% after having been down 0.2% in the early going. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% and the Nasdaq composite added 0.7%.

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US job openings stayed high in sign of economic resilience

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. job openings slipped in November but remained high, suggesting businesses are still determined to add workers, a blow to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool hiring and wage gains. There were 10.46 million job vacancies on the last day of November, down slightly from 10.51 million in October, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Openings peaked at 11.9 million in March. Yet the figures show there are nearly 1.8 jobs for every unemployed person, down from a peak of 2 but historically very high. Before the pandemic, there were usually more unemployed people than jobs. Such a high number of job openings suggests the economy is not yet in recession or close to falling into one.

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Coinbase to pay $100M in settlement with New York regulators

NEW YORK (AP) — New York announced a $100 million settlement with Coinbase on Wednesday over what state officials called significant failures in the cryptocurrency trading platform’s systems for spotting potential criminal activity. According to the state Department of Financial Services, Coinbase’s anti-money-laundering program and its system for monitoring transactions for suspicious activity were inadequate for a company of Coinbase’s size and complexity. The department said that the volume of alerts generated by Coinbase’s transaction monitoring system grew so fast that reports of suspicious activity were sometimes filed months after the suspicious activity was first known to Coinbase.

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James ‘Buster’ Corley of Dave & Buster’s chain dead at 72

DALLAS (AP) — James “Buster” Corley, a co-founder of the restaurant and entertainment chain Dave & Buster’s, has died. He was 72. According to his family and police, Corley died Monday in a Dallas hospital after police were called to his home in the Texas city. Dave & Buster’s announced Corley’s death in a statement on Twitter Wednesday, but its cause and manner are still being reviewed by local authorities. Corley and David Corriveau open their first establishment offering dining and games in 1982 in Dallas. Dave & Buster’s has since grown to have scores of locations across the United States.

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The S&P 500 gained 28.83 points, or 0.8%, to 3,852.97. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 133.40 points, or 0.4%, to 33,269.77. The Nasdaq added 71.78 points, or 0.7%, to 10,458.76. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies advanced 21.81 points, or 1.2%, to 1,772.54.