Business Highlights: Gap job cuts, COVID fraud
Gap slashes 500 corporate jobs in cost-cutting move
NEW YORK (AP) — Gap is slashing 500 corporate jobs in San Francisco and New York as it looks to reduce expenses amid languishing sales, a company spokesperson confirmed. The job cuts follow years of struggles at the San Francisco-based retailer, which operates stores under its namesake brand as well as Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. But the pandemic as well as surging supply chain costs have exerted even more of a financial toll on the retailer. And last week, Gap and Kanye West ended their partnership to distribute the rap artist’s clothing line under the Yeezy name. As of Jan. 29, the company had a workforce of roughly 97,000 employees. About 9% of them, or 8,700, work at corporate sites.
Feds: 47 exploited pandemic to steal $250M from food program
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal authorities have charged 47 people in what they’re calling the largest fraud scheme yet to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by stealing and defrauding the government of $250 million. Documents made public Tuesday charge the defendants with counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery. Prosecutors say the defendants created companies that claimed to be offering food to thousands of low-income children across Minnesota, then sought reimbursement through a federal program. But prosecutors say few meals were actually served, and the defendants used the money to buy luxury cars, property and jewelry. This year, the U.S. Justice Department has made prosecuting pandemic-related fraud a priority and has stepped up enforcement actions.
FTC reviewing Amazon’s $1.7 billion deal to buy iRobot
NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Amazon’s $1.7 billion acquisition of iRobot. In a regulatory filing Tuesday, iRobot said both it and Amazon received a request for additional information in connection with an FTC review of the merger. Both companies say they will cooperate with the FTC’s review. The investigation is the latest Amazon deal under scrutiny by regulators amid growing concerns about the company’s market power. Earlier this month, securities regulators made a similar request to Amazon and One Medical, the primary health care company the e-commerce giant is planning to buy for $3.9 billion.
GOP AGs push Visa, Mastercard, AmEx not to track gun sales
NEW YORK (AP) — A group of Republican attorneys general are pushing the major payment networks — Visa, Mastercard and American Express — to drop their plans to start tracking sales at gun stores, arguing the plans could infringe on consumer privacy and push legal gun sales out of the mainstream financial network. The letter comes more than a week after the payment networks said they would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for sales at gun stores. The Second Amendment lobby and its advocates have argued that the merchant code would do a poor job of tracking potential red flags and could unfairly flag legal gun purchases.
Britain’s Truss doesn’t expect UK-US trade deal anytime soon
NEW YORK (AP) — Prime Minister Liz Truss has kicked off her first visit to the United States as Britain’s leader with an admission that a U.K-U.S. free trade deal is not going to happen for years. On her way to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Truss said “there (aren’t) currently any negotiations taking place with the U.S., and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.” That’s a sharp contrast with the stance of her immediate predecessors, Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Both dangled the promise of a deal with the world’s biggest economy as one of the main prizes of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
NTSB wants all new vehicles to check drivers for alcohol use
DETROIT (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all new vehicles in the U.S. be required to have blood alcohol monitoring systems that can stop an intoxicated person from driving. The recommendation, if enacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, could reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes, one of the biggest causes of highway deaths in the U.S. The new push to make roads safer was included in a report released Tuesday about a horrific crash last year in which a drunk driver’s SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck near Fresno, California, killing both adult drivers and seven children.
Manchin rails against ‘revenge politics’ on permit plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday railed against what he called “revenge politics″ being used against him, as liberals in the House and Senate team up with Republicans to oppose his plan to speed permits for natural gas pipelines and other energy projects. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to include the permitting package in a stopgap government-funding bill in return for his support of a landmark law to curb climate change. But in recent weeks Democrats and environmental groups have lined up to oppose the permitting plan, calling it bad for the country and the climate.
Sweden’s central bank hikes key interest rate by full point
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden’s central bank has raised its key interest rate by a huge full percentage point to combat the highest inflation in more than 30 years. The move Tuesday is the first of a series of large hikes expected from central banks worldwide this week. Riksbanken says inflation has risen rapidly to 9% in August, “undermining households’ purchasing power.” The bank has raised its policy rate to 1.75% and said it will keep tightening over the next six months as it tries to bring inflation back to its target of 2%. In making the big hike, it pointed to other central banks rapidly raising rates as consumer prices soar.
Amid energy squeeze, Paris’ Champs-Elysees trims shop lights
PARIS (AP) — The committee governing Paris’ Champs-Elysees says it is switching off shop lights on the famed avenue hours earlier each night to help save energy as the war in Ukraine squeezes the electricity market in Europe. The plan announced Tuesday means that shop lights on the avenue will go dark at 10 p.m. instead of the current 1 a.m. It will take effect on Oct. 15. Shops on the avenue that remain open past 10 p.m. will “naturally” have an exemption, the committee said. The avenue’s dazzling Christmas illuminations will also be affected — and will now be switched off at 11:45 p.m. instead of 2 a.m.
The S&P 500 fell 43.96 points, or 1.1%, to 3,855.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 313.45 points, or 1%, to 30,706.23. The Nasdaq fell 109.97 points, or 1%, to 11,425.05. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 25.34 points, or 1.4%, to 1,787.50.