Markets 2021: Stocks soar, IPOs explode, crypto goes wild
Wall Street delivered another strong year in 2021, as a spike in consumer demand fueled by the reopening of the global economy pumped up corporate profits. Investors faced plenty of challenges, however, most notably a resurgence of inflation and the persistent coronavirus pandemic. Retail investors made their presence felt by boosting GameStop and other so-called meme stocks to sky-high levels. They also flocked to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. A record number of companies went public, trying to take advantage of the soaring stock market. China cracked down on big technology companies, knocking more than $1 trillion off their market value. In social media, Facebook changed its name while Twitter changed its leadership.
AP Exclusive: Polish opposition senator hacked with spyware
WARSAW, Poland: Security researchers say theyve confirmed that a third Polish opposition figure had his phone hacked with sophisticated spyware from Israeli company NSO Group. The senator was hacked nearly three dozen times using NSOs Pegasus spyware when he was running the oppositions campaign against the right-wing populist government in 2019 parliamentary elections. He says he believes the hacking revelations call into question whether that election was fair. A Polish government spokesman would neither confirm nor deny ordering the hacks or say whether its an NSO client. A company spokesperson said Pegasus is only supposed to be used against terrorists and criminals. NSO says its terminated contracts with governments that abuse those terms.
In Africa, rescuing the languages that Western tech ignores
LAGOS, Nigeria: Computers have become amazingly precise at translating spoken words to text messages and scouring huge troves of data for answers to complex questions as long as you speak English or another of the worlds dominant languages. Try talking to your phone in Yoruba, Igbo or any number of widely spoken African languages and youll find glitches that can hinder access to information and other benefits of the global tech economy. Tech giants dont have a great track record of making their language technology work well outside the wealthiest markets, with harmful consequences. Some African researchers are trying to change that.
Tesla to halt games on infotainment screens in moving cars
DETROIT: Under pressure from U.S. auto safety regulators, Tesla has agreed to stop allowing video games to be played on center touch screens while its vehicles are moving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the company will send out a software update over the Internet so the function called Passenger Play will be locked while vehicles are in motion. The move comes one day after the agency announced it would open a formal investigation into driver distraction from Teslas video games. An agency spokeswoman says in a statement Thursday that the change came after regulators discussed concerns about the system with Tesla. The statement says NHTSA regularly talks with all automakers about infotainment screens.
Amazon settles with NLRB to give workers power to organize
NEW YORK: Amazon, under pressure to improve worker rights, has reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board to allow its workers to organize freely and without retaliation. According to the agreement, the online behemoth said it would reach out to both current and former warehouse workers via email who were on the job from March 22 to now to notify them of their organizing rights. The settlement outlines that Amazon workers, which number 750,000 in the U.S., have more room to organize within its warehouses. This year, Amazon has faced organizing efforts at warehouses in Alabama and New York. The efforts come amid heightened labor unrest at other companies in the United States.
Jurors review recording of Holmes boasts to investors
SAN JOSE, Calif.: The jurors assessing 11 charges of fraud and conspiracy against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes asked Thursday to review audio recordings of Holmes boasting to investors about her startups progress toward a potentially revolutionary blood-testing technology. In those recordings, Holmes said talked up partnerships with established drug companies that didnt pan out and contracts that never materialized because of problems with the technology. Jurors are weighing the case after a three-month trial that captivated Silicon Valley, featuring testimony from 32 witnesses. including Holmes, and more than 900 exhibits. If convicted, the 37-year-old Holmes could face up to 20 years in prison.
Buttigieg doles out $241M to US ports to boost supply chain
WASHINGTON: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is announcing more than $241 million in grants to bolster U.S ports. Its part of President Joe Bidens near-term plan to address Americas clogged supply chain with infrastructure improvements to speed the flow of goods. The transportation money is being made available immediately to 25 projects in 19 states. It includes $52.3 million to help boost rail capacity at the port in Long Beach, California, and $20 million for Portsmouth, Virginia, to build out a supply chain for the offshore wind industry. Delcambre, Louisiana will get $2 million for dock restoration and climate resiliency.
To grandmothers house or no? Omicron disrupts holiday plans
For the second year in a row, the ever-morphing coronavirus presents would-be holiday revelers with a difficult choice: cancel their trips and celebrations yet again or figure out how to forge ahead as safely as possible. Many health experts are begging people not to let down their guard, but pandemic fatigue is real. While travel restrictions in some places have forced cancellations, many governments have been reluctant to order more lockdowns. Instead they are increasingly leaving decisions about who to see and where to go in the hands of individuals.
Steady gains leave indexes higher in holiday-shortened week
Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Thursday, leaving major indexes with solid gains in this holiday-shortened week. The S&P 500 closed at another record high. The benchmark index rose 0.6%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% and the Nasdaq rose 0.8%. Technology companies and retailers did especially well, while safe-play sectors like real estate and utilities lagged behind. Energy prices rose. European and Asian markets also closed higher. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.49%. U.S. markets will be closed Friday in observance of Christmas.
Consumer prices up 5.7% over past year, fastest in 39 years
WASHINGTON: U.S. consumer prices rose 5.7% over the past year, the fastest pace in 39 years as a surge in inflation battered Americans as the holiday shopping season was getting under way. The November increase, reported Thursday by the Commerce Department, followed a 5.1% rise for the 12 months ending in October and kept up a trend of annual price gains running well above the 2% inflation target set by the Federal Reserve. Thursdays report showed that consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of economic activity, rose 0.6% in November, a solid gain but below the 1.4X% surge in October. Personal incomes, which provide the fuel for future spending increases, rose 0.4% in November, slightly lower than the 0.5% increase in October.
The S&P 500 rose 29.23 points, or 0.6%, to 4,725.79. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 196.67 points, or 0.6%, to 35,950.56. The Nasdaq rose 131.48 points, or 0.8%, to 15,653.37. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 19.67 points, or 0.9%, to 2,241.58.
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