Business Highlights: Walt Disney; Inflation


Disney posts higher second-quarter earnings, revenue thanks to strong theme parks business

Ongoing strength at its theme parks and an improving streaming business propelled The Walt Disney Co. to higher profits and revenue in its fiscal second quarter. For the three months ended April 1, Disney earned $1.27 billion or 69 cents per share. That compares with $470 million, or 26 cents per share, a year ago. After adjusting for one-time items, Disney earned 93 cents per share, matching industry analysts’ expectations. The entertainment giant has been working on trimming about 7,000 jobs as part of a targeted $5.5 billion cost savings across the company.


US prices stay high, showing inflation pressures persist

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer prices in the United States rose again in April, and measures of underlying inflation stayed high, a sign that further declines in inflation are likely to be slow and bumpy. Prices increased 0.4% from March to April, up from a 0.1% rise from February to March. Compared with a year earlier, prices climbed 4.9%, down slightly from March’s year-over-year increase. The April data provided some evidence of cooling inflation, a sign that sent stock prices higher in morning trading. Grocery prices fell for a second straight month. And the cost of many services, including airline fares and hotel rooms, plunged.


Fed’s Barkin: Inflation still ‘stubbornly high’ and isn’t easing fast enough toward 2% target

Inflation remains “stubbornly high” and is no longer making much progress toward the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, a top Fed official said Wednesday, hours after price data for April were released. In an interview, Tom Barkin, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said he is also seeing some signs that banks in his region — which includes Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia — are slowing their lending. It isn’t yet clear, he said, what consequences that trend might have on the economy and inflation. For now, Barkin said, inflation remains unacceptably high.


What to know about $42 billion loan forgiveness plan for public service workers

The U.S. has approved more than $42 billion in federal student loan debt forgiveness for more than 615,000 borrowers over the past 18 months. It’s part of a program aimed at getting more people to work in public service jobs. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is open to teachers, librarians, nurses, public interest lawyers, military members and other public workers. It cancels a borrower’s remaining student debt after 10 years of public interest work, or 120 monthly payments. Stringent rules meant that many applicants were rejected, but a recent waiver made it easier for people to apply and get their debt forgiven.


Google gives dominant search engine an artificial-intelligence makeover

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google has disclosed plans to infuse its dominant search engine with more advanced artificial-intelligence technology. The effort is in response to one of the biggest threats to its long-established position as the internet’s main gateway. The gradual shift in how Google’s search engine runs is rolling out three months after Microsoft’s Bing search engine started to tap into technology similar to that which powers the artificially intelligent chatbot ChatGPT. Google will begin its AI transition in search cautiously, starting with a waitlist available only in the U.S. to people who want to test the new approach. Other AI improvements are coming to Gmail, Photos and the conversational chatbot, Bard.


Topless protester briefly disrupts VW annual meeting

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen’s annual shareholder meeting has been briefly disrupted by protests over the company’s factory in China’s Xinjiang province. A shouting, topless activist interrupted the speech Wednesday by CEO Oliver Blume, while a cake-like object was thrown during a speech by board chairman Hans-Dieter Poetsch, apparently in the direction of board member Wolfgang Porsche. Volkswagen has said that it has found no evidence of human rights violations at its plant in China’s western Xinjiang region. The meeting in Berlin resumed after a brief intermission.


Biden pressures House Republicans on debt limit in campaign-style speech

VALHALLA, New York (AP) — President Joe Biden is blasting Republican demands for federal spending cuts as “devastating.” He made his case in a campaign-style speech to voters in Valhalla, New York, on Wednesday. At the same time, lawmakers met in Washington to try to find a path forward to lifting the government’s borrowing limit and avoiding a potentially catastrophic default as soon as June 1. The president showed an increased willingness to discuss possible deficit savings, yet he said that any talks should occur without the risk of the federal government being unable to pay its bills.


FDA panel backs over-the-counter sales of birth control pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health advisers are recommending that a decades-old birth control pill be sold without a prescription. The unanimous vote on Wednesday by a Food and Drug Administration panel paves the way for what could be the 1st birth control pill available over the counter. The recommendation is not binding and the FDA is expected to make its decision on the drug later this summer. Currently all contraceptive pills in the U.S. require a prescription. Dozens of medical and advocacy groups support making the pill available without a prescription to increase birth control options for women.


Sports betting industry predicts ‘microbets’ next big thing

SEACAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Imagine being able to make a bet with this level of specificity: the Yankees’ Aaron Judge will hit a home run on the fourth pitch he sees in a given at bat, which will be a curveball spinning at a certain speed. While it’s incredibly unlikely to win, it’s the kind of thing that could be offered soon to sports bettors around the United States. Participants at a sports betting conference in Secaucus, New Jersey, agreed Wednesday that so-called microbetting, making rapid-fire bets on things like the result of the next at bat or even the next pitch in a baseball game, is growing fast.


Massachusetts’ high court upholds $37M judgment for woman who smoked Marlboro Lights, got cancer

BOSTON (AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts has upheld a nearly $37 million judgment for a woman who said she developed cancer after switching to Marlboro Light cigarettes because she thought they were less dangerous than what she had previously smoked. The Supreme Judicial Court’s unanimous ruling on Tuesday said that Patricia Walsh Greene might have smoked less or quit sooner had she not been swayed by Philip Morris’ claims that Marlboro Lights were safer. Greene started smoking in 1971 at age 13 and developed lung cancer in 2013 more than decade after she quit. An email seeking comment was left with Altria, Philip Morris’ parent company,


The S&P 500 rose 18.47 points, or 0.4%, to 4,137.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30.48 points, or 0.1%, to 33,531.33. The Nasdaq composite rose 126.89 points, or 1% to 12,306.44. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 9.83 points, or 0.6%, to 1,759.51.

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

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