Business

U.S. Added 216,000 Jobs in December, Outpacing Forecasts
Business

U.S. Added 216,000 Jobs in December, Outpacing Forecasts

The U.S. labor market ended 2023 with a bang, gaining more jobs than experts had expected and buoying hopes that the economy can settle into a solid, sustainable level of growth rather than fall into a recession.Employers added 216,000 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department reported on Friday. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent.Although hiring has slowed in recent months, layoffs remain near record lows. The durability of both hiring and wage gains is all the more remarkable in light of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive series of interest rate increases in the past couple of years. But a range of analysts warns that the coast is not yet clear and says the effects of those higher rates will take time to filter through business activity.“The real...
Auto Sales Are Expected to Slow After a Strong 2023
Business

Auto Sales Are Expected to Slow After a Strong 2023

After enjoying a strong rebound in sales in 2023, the auto industry appears headed for slower growth this year as consumers struggle with elevated interest rates and high prices for new cars and light trucks.Edmunds, a market researcher, expects the industry to sell 15.7 million vehicles this year. That would amount to a modest increase from the 15.5 million sold last year, when sales jumped 12 percent.“There’s definitely pent-up demand out there, because people have been holding off purchases for a while,” said Jessica Caldwell, head of insights at Edmunds. “But given the credit situation, we don’t think the industry will see a ton of growth this year.”Since the coronavirus pandemic, automakers have struggled with shortages of critical parts that have prevented them from producing as many...
Choice Hotel Franchise Owners Push Back on Merger With Wyndham
Business

Choice Hotel Franchise Owners Push Back on Merger With Wyndham

When Patrick Pacious, the chief executive of a large portfolio of hotel brands, promoted a blockbuster attempt to acquire a competitor in October, he said the proposed merger would lower costs and attract more customers for the families and small businesses that own most of the company’s locations.“Our franchisees instantly grasped the strategic benefit this would bring to their hotels,” Mr. Pacious, who leads Choice Hotels, said on CNBC.As the weeks have passed, however, the reaction has not been positive. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the target of the proposed deal, rejected the offer from Choice, which is now pursuing a hostile takeover. And in early December, an association representing the majority of hoteliers who own Choice and Wyndham-branded properties came out strongly against it....
How Tracking and Technology in Cars Is Being Weaponized by Abusive Partners
Business

How Tracking and Technology in Cars Is Being Weaponized by Abusive Partners

After almost 10 years of marriage, Christine Dowdall wanted out. Her husband was no longer the charming man she had fallen in love with. He had become narcissistic, abusive and unfaithful, she said. After one of their fights turned violent in September 2022, Ms. Dowdall, a real estate agent, fled their home in Covington, La., driving her Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan to her daughter’s house near Shreveport, five hours away. She filed a domestic abuse report with the police two days later.Her husband, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, didn’t want to let her go. He called her repeatedly, she said, first pleading with her to return, and then threatening her. She stopped responding to him, she said, even though he texted and called her hundreds of times.Ms. Dowdall, 59, started occasionally ...
U.S. and Europe Eye Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine as Funding Dries Up
Business

U.S. and Europe Eye Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine as Funding Dries Up

The Biden administration is quietly signaling new support for seizing more than $300 billion in Russian central bank assets stashed in Western nations, and has begun urgent discussions with allies about using the funds to aid Ukraine’s war effort at a moment when financial support is waning, according to senior American and European officials.Until recently, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen had argued that without action by Congress, seizing the funds was “not something that is legally permissible in the United States.” There has also been concern among some top American officials that nations around the world would hesitate to keep their funds at the New York Federal Reserve, or in dollars, if the United States established a precedent for seizing the money.But the administration, in coo...
ChatGPT Helps, and Worries, Business Consultants, Study Finds
Business

ChatGPT Helps, and Worries, Business Consultants, Study Finds

Last spring, when Karim Lakhani began testing how ChatGPT affected the work of elite business consultants, he thought they’d be delighted by the tool. In a preliminary study of two dozen workers, the language bot had helped them finish two hours’ worth of tasks in 20 minutes.“I assumed they, like me, would think, ‘Great! I can do so much more!” said Dr. Lakhani, a professor at the Harvard Business School.Instead, the consultants had feelings of unease. They appreciated that they had done better work in less time. But ChatGPT’s quick work threatened their sense of themselves as high-skilled workers, and some feared relying on it too much. “They were really worried and felt like this was going to denigrate them and be sort of empty calories for their brain,” Dr. Lakhani said.After these prel...
Holiday Spending Increased, Defying Fears of a Decline
Business

Holiday Spending Increased, Defying Fears of a Decline

Despite lingering inflation, Americans increased their spending this holiday season, early data shows. That comes as a big relief for retailers that had spent much of the year fearing the economy would soon weaken and consumer spending would fall.Retail sales increased 3.1 percent from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. The numbers, released Tuesday, are not adjusted for inflation.Spending increased across many categories, with restaurants experiencing one of the largest jumps, 7.8 percent. Apparel increased 2.4 percent, and groceries also had gains.The holiday sales figures, driven by a healthy labor market and wage gains, suggests that...
Red Sea Shipping Halt Is Latest Risk to Global Economy
Business

Red Sea Shipping Halt Is Latest Risk to Global Economy

The attacks on crucial shipping traffic in the Red Sea straits by a determined band of militants in Yemen — a spillover from the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza — are injecting a new dose of instability into a world economy already struggling with mounting geopolitical tensions.The risk of escalating conflict in the Middle East is the latest in a string of unpredictable crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, that have landed like swipes of a bear claw on the global economy, smacking it off course and leaving scars.As if that weren’t enough, more volatility lies ahead in the form of a wave of national elections whose repercussions could be deep and long. More than two billion people in roughly 50 countries, including India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, the United Stat...
Price Increases Cooled in November as Inflation Falls Toward Fed Target
Business

Price Increases Cooled in November as Inflation Falls Toward Fed Target

A closely watched measure of inflation cooled notably in November, good news for the Federal Reserve as officials move toward the next phase in their fight against rapid price increases and a positive for the White House as voters see relief from rising costs.The Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation measure, which the Fed cites when it says it aims for 2 percent inflation on average over time, climbed 2.6 percent in the year through November. That was down from 2.9 percent the previous month, and was less than what economists had forecast. Compared with the previous month, prices overall even fell slightly for the first time in years.That decline — a 0.1 percent drop, and the first negative reading since April 2020 — came as gas prices dropped. After volatile food and fuel prices we...
The Wrinkles in a Potential Warner Bros.-Paramount Merger
Business

The Wrinkles in a Potential Warner Bros.-Paramount Merger

The wrinkles in a potential media mergerMedia deal makers aren’t waiting until 2024 to get started on potential big-ticket M.&A.News that David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Discovery, expressed interest in combining with Paramount set tongues wagging about a possible union of Hollywood’s top deal candidates. But it’s unclear whether this will be the combination that gets completed, DealBook’s Lauren Hirsch and Michael de la Merced write.A deal could make sense. Their streaming platforms — Max and Paramount+ — are far smaller than Netflix or Disney+, so putting them together might create a more robust competitor. (Of note: Both companies own valuable sports streaming rights, which could help draw subscribers.)And it could give the united business more leverage in negotiations with...