Business Highlights: TikTok; Banking regulations; FTX


TikTok propaganda labels fall flat in ‘huge win’ for Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Social media platforms often rely on labels to let users know an account is operated by a Russian state propaganda agency. But new research shows on TikTok the labels aren’t very effective even when they’re applied consistently. Analysts at the Alliance for Securing Democracy identified nearly 100 accounts with clear links to Russian state media or propaganda agencies. The analysts found more than a third of the accounts were still unlabeled a year after TikTok announced its labeling program. Even when the labels were added to Russian state accounts, they did little to limit the reach of the propaganda. TikTok says it’ll keep reviewing new accounts and adding labels.


China e-commerce giant Alibaba outlines future strategy

HONG KONG (AP) — Top executives of Chinese e-commerce and financial giant Alibaba say it plans to spin off some of its sprawling e-commerce and finance empire as independent businesses to make them more flexible and maximize their value. Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang outlined details of a plan announced earlier this week to split Alibaba into six main groups as a prelude toward stock listings of some of its companies. In a conference call, Zhang said Alibaba will become more of a holding company and controlling shareholder of group companies. The restructuring plan marks a new stage in Alibaba’s growth after a series of setbacks as regulators cracked down on it and other tech companies.


Biden calls to revive bank regulations that Trump weakened

WASHINGTON (AP) — Weeks after the failure of two banks, President Joe Biden is calling for independent regulatory agencies to impose tighter rules on the financial system. In a fact sheet, Biden says regulators can act under current law without additional steps taken by Congress. The recommended changes outlined by the White House try to put clear blame on the Trump administration for weakening supervision of regional banks, saying Biden’s predecessor “weakened many important common-sense requirements and supervision.” Once banks hold assets of more than $100 billion, the administration is asking them to hold more capital to absorb losses and face enhanced stress testing to ensure they could withstand a possible crisis.


Biden pick Ajay Banga cleared to take top job at World Bank

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration’s choice to run the World Bank — former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga — appears to have a lock on the job. Banga was the only candidate nominated in a search that began more than a month ago. The current president of the 189-nation poverty-fighting organization, David Malpass, announced last month that he would step down in June, nearly a year before his five-year term was due to expire in April 2024. The World Bank is under pressure to do more to help poor countries to combat and prepare for climate change. Banga, the first Indian-born nominee to run the World Bank, has more than 30 years of business experience.


Lawyer: FTX founder likely challenging new crypto charges

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for onetime cryptocurrency darling Sam Bankman-Fried is signaling that he’s challenging the validity of new charges contained in rewritten indictments released in recent weeks after his client was brought to the United States from the Bahamas in December. Attorney Mark Cohen told a Manhattan federal court judge on Thursday that the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to new charges lodged against him in what a prosecutor has labeled as one of the biggest frauds in American history. Although he’s pleading not guilty to the charges, Cohen says Bankman-Fried is not acknowledging he can be tried on them. Among the new charges is an allegation that he directed the payment of $40 million in bribes to Chinese officials.


US revises down last quarter’s economic growth to 2.6% rate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy maintained its resilience from October through December despite rising interest rates, growing at a 2.6% annual pace, the government said Thursday in a slight downgrade from its previous estimate. The government had previously estimated that the economy expanded at a 2.7% annual rate last quarter. The rise in the gross domestic product — the economy’s total output of goods and services — for the October-December quarter was down from the 3.2% growth rate from July through September. Exports and consumer spending were revised lower in the Thursday report. For all of 2022, the U.S. economy expanded 2.1%, down from a robust 5.9% in 2021.


Used car prices are surging. Here’s why you should buy now

Well, it was nice while it lasted. For nearly a year, the average used vehicle in the United States had been gradually edging toward affordable again for millions of people. The relief felt belated and relatively slight, but it was welcome nonetheless. From an eye-watering peak of $31,400 in April of last year, the average price had dropped 14% to $27,125 early this month. Now, with the supply of used vehicles failing to keep up with robust demand, prices are creeping up again. So many buyers have been priced out of the new-car market that fewer trade-ins are landing on dealer lots. Deepening the shortage, fewer used vehicles are coming off leases or being off-loaded by rental car companies.


Gov’t to start looking for bias in small business lending

NEW YORK (AP) — Banks will need to start reporting the demographics and income of small business loan applicants under new rules published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday.It’s a move that policymakers hope will lead to less discrimination and more transparency in the small business lending market in a similar way other laws have regulated the residential mortgage market for decades.


The S&P 500 rose 23.02 points, or 0.6%, to 4,050.83. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 141.43 points, or 0.4%, to 32,859.03. The Nasdaq composite rose 87.24 points, or 0.7% to 12,013.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 3.22 points, or 0.2%, to 1,768.38.

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