Business Highlights: Dip in inflation, Musk’s contradictions
US inflation dips from 4-decade high but still causing pain
WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation eased slightly in April after months of relentless increases but remained near a four-decade high, making it hard for millions of American households to keep up with surging prices. Consumer prices jumped 8.3% from a year ago, below the 8.5% year-over-year surge in March. Still, there are signs that inflation may be becoming more entrenched. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices jumped twice as much from March to April as they did the previous month. Inflation could remain high well into 2023, leaving many Americans burdened by price increases that have outpaced pay raises. Especially hurt are lower-income and Black and Hispanic families, who on average spend a greater proportion of their incomes on gas, food and rent.
Elon Musk, an erratic visionary, revels in contradiction
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Many people are puzzling what a Elon Musk takeover of Twitter would mean for the company and even whether he’ll go through with the deal. If the 50-year-old Musk’s gambit has made anything clear it’s that he thrives on contradiction. Musk boasts that he’s acquiring Twitter to defend freedom of speech. But he has long used the platform to attack those who disagree with him. He’s a brilliant visionary, widely admired for reimagining what a car can be, not to mention his ventures in rocket travel and solar energy. But his apparent joy in trashing the conventions of corporate behavior have alienated some analysts, regulators and employees.
Google adopts an Apple-like approach for its Pixel products
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google on Wednesday took a big step toward pushing its Pixel product line-up down a road already paved by Apple and its array of trendsetting phones, tablets and watches. The internet giant’s latest additions to its six-year-old Pixel brand will include Google’s first smartwatch that draws on features and expertise it’s gained from last year’s $2.1 billion acquisition of the fitness gadget maker Fitbit. The new watch, targeted for an autumn release, marks Google’s first major attempt to make a dent in a steadily growing segment of the wearable technology market. Google also used its annual developers conference to tease a Pixel tablet due out next year.
Coinbase loses half its value in a week as crypto slumps
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase has lost half its value in the past week, including its biggest one-day drop ever on Wednesday as the famously volatile crypto market weathers yet another slump. Coinbase reported a $430 million net loss in the first quarter, or $1.98 per share, on declining sales and active users. Analysts expected profit of 8 cents per share. It’s unlikely those results surprised investors — Coinbase shares declined 43% in the four days leading up to their earnings release Tuesday. On Wednesday, shares fell 27% to $53 per share. On the day the company went public just 13 months ago, prices hit $429 per share.
Raimondo: Inquiry on solar imports follows the law
WASHINGTON (AP) — Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo pushed back forcefully Wednesday against critics — including some within the Biden administration — who say a government investigation of solar imports from Southeast Asia is hindering President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate goals. Raimondo told a Senate panel that the solar inquiry is following a process set by law that doesn’t allow consideration of climate change, supply chains or other factors. She called the inquiry into imports from four Southeast Asian nations “quasi-judicial” and noted it is being led by career staff at the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration. Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the inquiry had “ground an entire industry to a halt.″
Walt Disney Co. Q2 results fall short but stock jumps
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. missed Wall Street’s expectations for its fiscal second quarter, dinged by over $1 billion it paid in early termination fees for TV shows and films it wanted to use on its own streaming service. The results came as the company continues to be in the crosshairs of Republican lawmakers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, over its opposition to a new state law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. DeSantis DeSantis signed a bill last month to dissolve the private government Walt Disney World controls on its property in the state in retaliation.
Beyond Meat shares tumble on lower-than-expected Q1 sales
Plant-based meat company Beyond Meat reported lower-than-expected sales in the first quarter as it slashed prices and demand from restaurants fell. The El Segundo, California, company said its revenue rose 1.2% to $109.5 million in the January-March period. That fell short of Wall Street’s forecast. Beyond Meat said its U.S. retail sales jumped 6.9% in the quarter, but that was mostly due to the introduction of Beyond Meat Jerky, a meatless jerky developed as part of a snack food partnership with PepsiCo. Beyond Meat said U.S. sales of its other products, including burgers and sausages, were lower than the prior year.
Google gets more multilingual, but will it get the nuance?
LIMA, Peru (AP) — About 10 million people speak Quechua, but trying to automatically translate emails and text messages into the lingua franca of the Inca Empire was nearly impossible before Google introduced it into its digital translation service Wednesday. The internet giant says new artificial intelligence technology lets it vastly expand Google Translate’s repertoire of the world’s languages. Google added 24 such languages this week, including Quechua and other Indigenous South American languages such as Guarani and Aymara. It is also adding a number of widely spoken African and South Asian languages that have long been missing from popular tech products.
The S&P 500 lost 65.87 points, or 1.6%, to 3,935.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 326.63 points, or 1%, to 31,834.11. The Nasdaq retreated 373.44 points, or 3.2%, to 11,364.24. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 43.65 points, or 2.5%, to 1,718.14.