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Business Highlights: UK economic turmoil, Russian propaganda

September 27, 2022 GMT

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British pound stabilizes, but turmoil still roils UK economy

LONDON (AP) — The British pound has stabilized as U.K. authorities tried to ease investor concerns after the biggest tax cuts in 50 years sent the currency tumbling to a record low. Some businesses are predicting a devastating combination of a weak currency and rising interest rates. The turmoil is already having real-world effects, with British mortgage lenders pulling hundreds of offers from the market. That’s because there are expectations the Bank of England will sharply boost interest rates to offset the inflationary impact of the pound’s recent slide. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association says the sterling crash is set to raise prices for consumers and threaten hundreds of British jobs in bottling plants.

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Meta disables Russian propaganda network targeting Europe

MENLO PARK (AP) — Facebook says it has identified and stopped a sprawling network of fake accounts that spread Russian propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine throughout Western Europe. Facebook parent company Meta says the network created more than 60 websites that mimicked legitimate news organizations but parroted Russian talking points about Ukraine. More than 1,600 fake Facebook accounts were used to spread the propaganda to audiences in Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Meta says it was the largest and most complex network linked to Russia that the California-based company has identified since the Ukraine invasion began. The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

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States get final OK to build highway EV charging network

WASHINGTON (AP) — All 50 states have received final approval to begin construction on a first nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations that places one roughly every 50 miles along interstate highways. It’s part of the Biden administration’s plan to spur widespread adoption of zero-emission cars. The Transportation Department approved plans Tuesday for the last set of 17 states that will install or upgrade fast chargers along 75,000 miles of highway, coast to coast. By year’s end, drivers could start seeing shiny upgrades to existing highway EV stations in states including California, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania.

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Walmart to cover fertility treatments under insurance plan

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is teaming up with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families. The nation’s largest retailer and private employer said Tuesday it’s partnering with New York-based Kindbody to offer benefits such as in vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Walmart’s employees will get access to more than 30 fertility clinics and in vitro fertilization labs across the U.S. Kindbody’s clinics will be available to help eligible workers access Walmart’s surrogacy and adoption benefits, as well.

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US consumers gaining confidence as gas prices keep falling

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers grew more confident for the second month in a row as gas prices continued to fall. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 108 in September, from 103.6 in August. The back-to-back monthly increases follow three straight monthly declines as American households were hammered by rising prices, particularly at the gas pump. The business research group’s present situation index — which measures consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions — also rose again, to 149.6 in September from 145.3 in August.

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Fed’s Powell urges broader regulation for stablecoins

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that stablecoins will need greater regulation as they become more widely used by consumers. Powell delivered his virtual remarks Tuesday to a conference on digital finance in Paris. Powell said the Fed hasn’t yet decided on whether to proceed with a digital dollar. The Fed’s sharp interest rate increases this year, Powell said, have contributed to the collapse of some stablecoins and big drops in the value of cryptocurrencies. Stablecoins are digital tokens pegged to the value of traditional financial instruments, often the dollar.

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JetBlue CEO first witness in US lawsuit against 2 airlines

BOSTON (AP) — A trial is underway in the federal government’s lawsuit aiming to kill a partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways in the Northeast. The government says the deal is, in effect, a merger that will cost consumers $700 million a year in higher fares. But the airlines say the pact — which has been in place for 18 months — is already letting them open new routes that are good for travelers. They say the deal boosts competition by helping American and JetBlue compete with Delta and United, especially in the New York area.

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Attorneys for Musk, Twitter argue over information exchange

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge is hearing arguments over the exchange of information by lawyers in Twitter’s lawsuit seeking to force billionaire Elon Musk to carry through with his $44 billion acquisition of the social media giant. Tuesday’s hearing comes three weeks before a scheduled trial in the dispute. Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter and take it private, offering $54.20 a share and vowing to loosen the company’s policing of content and to root out fake accounts. He later indicated that he wanted to back away from the deal, claiming that Twitter had failed to provide him enough information about the number of fake accounts on its platform.

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The S&P 500 slipped 7.75 points, or 0.2%, to 3,647.29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 125.82 points, or 0.4%, to 29,134.99. The Nasdaq rose 26.58 points, or 0.2%, to 10,829.50. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 6.63 points, or 0.4%, to 1,662.51.