Technology

Wall Street extends winning streak to 4th week

Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street, giving the S&P 500 its first 4-week winning streak since November. The benchmark index gained 1.7% Friday, and other indexes also rose. Technology stocks drove much the broad rally. Inflation cooled more than expected last month, sending stocks higher. Investors see a greater chance inflation may have peaked, allowing the Federal Reserve to be less aggressive with its rate hikes than it has been this year. Crude oil prices fell, while bond yields were mixed.

Amazon's Ring, MGM to launch show from viral doorbell videos

Amazon-owned companies Ring and Hollywood studio MGM are partnering to create a TV show in the mold of “America’s Funniest Home Videos." MGM says the half-hour “Ring Nation” program will showcase viral footage from Ring’s doorbell and smart-home cameras. The series is the latest example of Amazon’s fusion of its various business arms. It also presents a branding and marketing opportunity for Amazon, which bought Ring in 2018. Since then, the company has dealt with rounds of privacy concerns around Ring and its relationship with police departments across the country. The show will be hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes and premier in syndication on September 26.

Sweeping climate bill pushes American energy to go green

Congress is poised to pass a transformative climate change fighting bill. Friday's vote would be the first major climate package in the U.S. and would include close to $375 billion in spending. Most of the bill is aimed at infusions of cash, subsidies and tax breaks to make green energy eventually so cheap it's nearly irresistible. It would slice U.S. carbon emissions by about 40%. This compromise bill comes 34 years after Congress was warned that climate change was a serious threat. Since then there have been 308 weather disasters that each cost $1 billion.

FTC looking at rules to corral tech firms' data collection

Whether it's the fitness tracker on your wrist, the “smart” home appliances in your house or the latest kids’ fad going viral in online videos, they all produce a trove of personal data for big tech companies. How that data is being used and protected has led to growing public concern and officials’ outrage. Now federal regulators are looking at drafting rules to crack down on what they call harmful commercial surveillance and lax data security. The Federal Trade Commission announced the initiative Thursday, seeking public comment on the harmful effects of companies’ data collection and the potential benefit of new rules to protect consumers’ privacy.

EU says US electric vehicle tax credit could break WTO rules

The European Union says a new U.S. tax credit plan aimed at encouraging Americans to buy electric vehicles could discriminate against European producers and break world trade rules. The Inflation Reduction Act is nearing approval in Congress. It would grant a tax credit of up to $7,500 to lower the cost of an electric vehicle. To qualify, electric vehicles should contain a battery built in North America with minerals mined or recycled on the continent. But European Commission spokeswoman Miriam Garcia Ferrer said Thursday that the bill is “discriminatory, that it’s discriminating against foreign producers in relation to U.S. producers.” The U.S. plan aims to encourage domestic manufacturing and mining.

At 75, India seeks way forward in big but job-scarce economy

India’s phenomenal transformation from an impoverished nation in 1947 into an emerging global power whose $3 trillion economy is Asia’s third largest has made it a major exporter of things like software and vaccines. Millions have escaped poverty into a growing, aspirational middle class as its high-skilled sectors have thrived. But many millions of Indians are employed in informal day labor or farm work, struggling to survive. Raging unemployment is worsening insecurity and inequality between the rich and poor and is perhaps Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest challenge as the country marks 75 years of independence from British rule on Aug. 15.

Asian shares track Wall Street gains on cooling inflation

Shares have advanced in Asia after benchmarks closed at three-month highs on Wall Street as investors cheered a report showing inflation cooled more than expected in July. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul saw gains of more than 1% early Thursday. U.S. futures edged higher, while oil prices slipped. The S&P 500 jumped 2.1% Wednesday on expectations that slower inflation will mean the Federal Reserve won’t hike interest rates as much as feared. Technology stocks, cryptocurrencies and other investments among the year’s biggest losers due to the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes led the way. The government said consumer inflation jumped 8.5% in July from a year earlier. But that was down from June's four-decade high of 9.1%.

EXPLAINER: Online privacy in a post-Roe world

With abortion now or soon to be illegal in over a dozen states and severely restricted in many more, Big Tech companies that collect personal details of their users are facing new calls to limit that tracking and surveillance. One fear is that law enforcement or vigilantes could use data troves from Facebook, Google and other social platforms against people seeking ways to end unwanted pregnancies. History has repeatedly demonstrated that whenever people’s personal data is tracked and stored, there’s always a risk that it could be misused or abused.

Disney+ ad-free subscription cost to rise by 38% in December

Disney said it is raising prices for streaming subscribers in the U.S. who want to watch Disney+ without ads as more viewers switch to what CEO Bob Chapek described Wednesday as the “best value in streaming.” The price increases are tied to a new tiered service Disney will launch in December for U.S. subscribers. The basic Disney+ service today costs $7.99 per month. Starting in December, that basic service will run ads, so a subscriber who wants no ads will have to upgrade to a premium service that starts at $10.99 per month, a 38% increase over current prices.

Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' law fuels anti-LGBTQ hate online

Research that analyzed social media posts finds that hateful references to gays, lesbians and other LGBTQ people surged online after Florida passed a law that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. References to pedophiles and “grooming” rose by more than 400 percent in the month after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” measure was approved, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Countering Digital Hate. The authors of the report say the increased anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is inciting hatred that could lead to violence. They say social media platforms must do more to enforce their own policies on hate speech.

Security firm finds flaws in Indian online insurance broker

A cybersecurity firm informed a major Indian online insurance brokerage last month that critical vulnerabilities in its network could expose sensitive personal and financial data from at least 11 million customers. CyberX9 followed the standard ethical-hacker playbook, giving the brokerage time to patch the flaws and inform authorities. A week later, the insurance brokerage, Policybazaar, said it had been illegally breached but “no significant customer data was exposed.” It said little more. CyberX9 wants Indians to know the broker had multiple critical vulnerabilities that left itself open to intrusion. The incident highlights the gray area in which many security researchers operate when computer crime laws such as India's make no adjustment for good-faith work.

Social media offers parents more controls. But do they help?

As concerns about social media’s harmful effects on teens continue to rise, platforms from Snapchat to TikTok to Instagram are bolting on new features designed to make their services safer and more age appropriate. But the changes rarely address the elephant in the the room — the algorithms pushing endless content that can drag anyone, not just teens, into harmful rabbit holes. Snapchat, for instance, just added new controls that let parents see who their teens are messaging, though not what they're saying. Even if it works — and kids  opt in — it's still one more constantly evolving feature for parents to master.

Elon Musk sells $7B in Tesla shares ahead of Twitter fight

Elon Musk has sold nearly $7 billion worth of shares in Tesla as the billionaire gets his finances in order ahead of his court battle with Twitter. Musk disclosed in series of regulatory filings that he unloaded about 8 million shares of his company Tesla in recent days. He is attempting to back out of an agreement to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Musk is by far the largest individual shareholder in both Tesla and Twitter. Shares of Tesla are up almost 2% before the opening bell Wednesday. Shares of Twitter, up 16% in the past month with most believing Musk faces long-shot odds of success in his legal fight with the company,  are up another 3%.

'We're back, baby': New bill boosts US climate credibility

The U.S. has renewed credibility on global climate issues and will be able to inspire other nations in their own efforts, experts say, after the Democrats pushed their big economic bill through the Senate on Sunday. The legislation is the single biggest investment in climate change in U.S. history, putting about $375 billion towards climate change-fighting strategies such as investments in renewable energy production and tax rebates for consumers to buy new or used electric vehicles. The impending passage of the first ever significant climate legislation in the U.S. changes the outlook internationally, including in China, India and other high-emitting nations, several experts said.

Japan's Toshiba boosts profit on devices, auto sector demand

Toshiba has reported a 44% improvement in profit in the last quarter as the Japanese technology giant revamps its brand image and seeks to reassure investors about its management. Quarterly sales rose 2%. Toshiba has promised to boost annual sales by forging ahead with clean energy, infrastructure projects, data services, devices and storage businesses. The company said Wednesday that demand for electronic devices and storage and digital solutions, including from the auto sector, was healthy. In March, investors rejected a company-backed reform proposal to split Toshiba into two businesses. An earlier plan that also was scrapped called for a three-way split.

Japan's Honda sees declining profits on semiconductor crunch

The semiconductor shortage is hitting another of the world's automakers, despite demand for product. Honda’s fiscal first quarter profit has fallen 33% from last year. A global computer chip shortage, a pandemic-related lockdown in China and the rising costs of raw materials hurt the Japanese automaker. Tokyo-based Honda says its profit totaled 149.2 billion yen, or $1.1 billion, for April-June. Quarterly sales slipped 7%. Honda kept its profit forecast for the full fiscal year through March 2023 unchanged. Manufacturers have been scrambling to secure alternative suppliers. Honda sold about 815,000 vehicles last quarter, down from 998,000 a year earlier.

Issey Miyake, known for bold sculpted designs, dies at 84

Issey Miyake, who built one of Japan’s biggest fashion brands and was known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces as well as Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks, has died. He was 84, and his design office said he died last Friday of liver cancer. Miyake defined an era in Japan’s modern history starting in the 1970s by defining a Japanese vision that was unique from the West. Miyake’s origami-like pleats transformed usually crass polyester into chic. He also used computer technology in weaving to create apparel. His clothing was meant to celebrate the human body, regardless of race, build, size or age.

Federal program helps Alaska villages get broadband access

Officials say Alaska will receive at least $100 million through a new federal program to expand high-speed internet to underserved areas and promote workforce development. Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan coordinated a summit with state, federal and tribal officials in Anchorage, in an effort to ensure parties were on the same page moving forward. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed a bill establishing a broadband office to help coordinate between all entities. Sullivan says it is important to seize the opportunity to connect every part of Alaska to broadband.

Former Twitter worker convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia

A former Twitter employee has been convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen and former media partnership manager for Twitter’s Middle East region, was charged in 2019 with acting as an agent of Saudi Arabia without registering with the U.S. government. The case marked the first time the kingdom, long linked to the U.S. through its massive oil reserves and regional security arrangements, has been accused of spying in America.

Biden, Democrats bet on long-term goals for short-term boost

President Joe Biden’s legislative victories have aimed to position the U.S. to “win the economic competition of the 21st century,” but his investments to boost the nation’s technology, infrastructure and climate resilience over the next decade are set against a 90-odd-day clock until the midterms. From turbocharging the U.S. computer chip sector to shifting the nation to a greener economy, the achievements from Biden will take years to come to fruition. Yet Democrats are gambling that the rapid clip of recent accomplishments will persuade a downcast electorate to vote in their party’s favor. Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii says, “It’s a vibe, and the vibe is winning."

Wall Street slips as weak earnings hit tech, travel stocks

Stocks are closing lower on Wall Street as disappointing earnings reports weighed on technology and travel companies. The S&P 500 fell 0.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also slipped Tuesday afternoon. Chipmaker Micron Technology fell after warning investors that revenue could fall short of forecasts because of weakening demand. Norwegian Cruise Line plunged after reporting disappointing financial results and giving investors a weak revenue forecast. Two reports on prices due later this week could signal to investors whether the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes this year have brought inflation under control.

Most electric vehicles won't qualify for federal tax credit

A tax credit of up to $7,500 could be used to defray the cost of an electric vehicle under the Inflation Reduction Act now moving toward final approval in Congress. But the auto industry warns that the vast majority of EV purchases won’t qualify for a tax credit that large. That’s mainly because of the bill’s requirement that, to qualify for the credit, an electric vehicle must contain a battery built in North America with minerals mined or recycled on the continent. And those rules become more stringent over time — to the point where, in a few years, it’s possible that no EVs would qualify for the tax credit.