Business Highlights: TikTok CEO’s grilling, credit crunch


TikTok ban CEO congressional hearing ByteDance China

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CEO of TikTok has been grilled by a U.S. congressional committee to make the case for why the hugely popular video-sharing app shouldn’t be banned. Shou Zi Chew’s testimony Thursday came at a crucial time for the company, which has 150 million American users but is under increasing pressure from U.S. officials concerned about data security and user safety. TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have been swept up in a wider geopolitical battle between Beijing and Washington over trade and technology. Chew, a 40-year-old Singapore native, made a rare public appearance to counter the volley of allegations that TikTok has been facing.


Fed’s unwanted ally in bid to tame inflation: Credit crunch

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is getting some unwanted help in its drive to slow the U.S. economy and defeat the worst bout of inflation in four decades: a cutback in bank lending. The upheaval in the financial system that’s followed the collapse of two major U.S. banks is raising the likelihood that lending standards will become sharply more restrictive. Fewer loans would mean less spending by consumers and businesses. That, in turn, would make it harder for companies to raise prices, thereby reducing inflationary pressures. Some economists worry, though, that the slowdown might prove so severe as to send the economy sliding into a painful recession.


Credit Suisse deal averted crisis, Swiss central bank says

GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss central bank has hiked its key interest rate and declared that a government-orchestrated takeover of troubled Credit Suisse by rival bank UBS ended the financial turmoil. In a statement, the Swiss National Bank said Thursday that it’s providing large amounts of support in Swiss francs and foreign currencies and that the Sunday announcement by the federal government, financial regulators and the central bank “put a halt to the crisis.” The hastily arranged, $3.25 billion deal aimed to stem the turmoil in the global financial system after the collapse of two U.S. banks and jitters about long-running troubles at Credit Suisse led shares of Switzerland’s second-largest bank to tank and customers to pull deposits.


UK central bank hikes rates like Fed amid financial turmoil

LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England has extended its battle against inflation, announcing an 11th consecutive interest rate increase despite concerns about the economic fallout from troubles in the global financial system. Britain’s central bank boosted its key rate by a quarter-percentage point to 4.25% on Thursday. It’s a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve approved a similar move to tame inflation that’s crimping household budgets and slowing economic growth. The decisions followed unexpected news that U.K. inflation accelerated to 10.4% in February, driven by food costs. Before that, many analysts had expected the Bank of England to keep rates on hold following the collapse of two U.S. banks and the ensuing turmoil at Switzerland’s Credit Suisse.


Lawmakers tell ex-CEOs ‘you must answer’ for bank failures

WASHINGTON (AP) — Leaders of the Senate’s banking committee are telling former chief executive officers at the failed Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank they “must answer” for their banks’ “downfall.” The senators say in a letter to each CEO he’s expected to appear before the panel. The banking committee is examining the events leading up to the closures of the two banks, with the first congressional hearing set for Tuesday. Separate letters were sent Thursday to former Silicon Valley Bank CEO Gregory Becker and former Signature Bank CEO Joseph DePaolo. Attorneys copied in on the letters sent to the former CEOs haven’t responded to requests from The Associated Press for comment.


Stocks tick higher after another dizzying day on Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose, but only after another dizzying day for Wall Street where a big show of strength from the morning vanished and worries rose about the banking industry. The S&P 500 added 0.3% Thursday for its third gain in four days. It had been on track for a much healthier gain of 1.8% in the morning. The Dow saw an early gain of 481 points disappear, and it likewise dipped to a brief loss before closing with a modest gain. Strength for technology stocks helped the Nasdaq composite hold up better than the rest of the market. Treasury yields sank sharply.


Ford says EV unit losing billions, should be seen as startup

DETROIT (AP) — Ford’s electric vehicle business has lost $3 billion before taxes during the past two years and will lose a similar amount this year as the company invests heavily in the new technology. The figures were released Thursday as Ford rolled out a new way of reporting its financial results. The new business structure separates electric vehicles, the profitable internal combustion and commercial vehicle operations into three operating units. Company officials said the electric vehicle unit will be profitable before taxes by late 2026 with an 8% profit margin. Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said Model e should be viewed as a startup company within Ford.


New Starbucks CEO plans to work in stores monthly

Starbucks’ new CEO says he plans to work a half-day shift once a month in one of the company’s stores. Laxman Narasimhan says it will help him stay close to the company’s culture. Narasimhan took the reins as CEO earlier this week. He said in a letter to Starbucks’ employees Thursday that he also expects the company’s leadership team to be engaged in stores. Narasimhan led the company’s virtual annual meeting Thursday, the day after a strike by union supporters at more than 100 U.S. Starbucks stores. Like his predecessors, Narasimhan said Starbucks believes the company functions better without a union.


US jobless claims inch down as labor market remains tight

The labor market continues to defy the Federal Reserve’s attempts at loosening it, with U.S. applications for unemployment benefits down again last week and remaining at historically low levels. The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims in the U.S. for the week ending March 18 fell by 1,000 to 191,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average of claims, which flattens out some of week-to-week volatility, fell by 250 to 196,250, remaining below the 200,000 threshold for the ninth straight week. Applications for unemployment benefits are seen as a barometer for layoffs in the U.S.


The S&P 500 rose 11.75 points, or 0.3%, to 3,948.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 75.14 points, or 0.2%, to 32,105.25. The Nasdaq composite added 117.44 points, or 1% to 11,787.40. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.07 points, or 0.4%, to 1,720.29.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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