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Business Highlights: Ukraine’s economy, Wall Street losses

February 23, 2022 GMT

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Ukraine’s economy is another victim of Russia’s ‘hybrid war’

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The threat of war has shredded Ukraine’s economy, and many Ukrainians are asking why they are the ones suffering instead of Russia. The pressure from Russian troops has closed international offices, canceled flights and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to dry up within weeks. Ukrainian officials say the economic destabilization is a pillar of the “hybrid war” Russia is waging. The economic woes include restaurants that dare not keep more than a few days of food on hand, stalled plans for a hydrogen production plant and uncertain conditions for shipping in the Black Sea, where container ships must carefully edge their way around Russian military vessels.

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Wall Street losses mount amid simmering Ukraine crisis

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s losses mounted Wednesday as world leaders waited to see if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders troops deeper into Ukraine. The S&P 500 fell 1.8% to an 8-month low, worsening what is now the benchmark index’s second correction in two years. The technology-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.6% led by losses in Apple and Microsoft. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.4%. U.S. Treasury yields inched higher, as did gold prices. A potential war in eastern Europe has added to investors’ concerns about the global economy.

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Subaru buyers caught up in right-to-repair fight over autos

Driving a rugged Subaru through snowy weather is a rite of passage for some New Englanders, whose region is a top market for the Japanese automaker. So it was a surprise when Massachusetts dealerships started selling Subaru’s line of 2022 vehicles without a key ingredient: in-car wireless technology that connects drivers to music, navigation, roadside assistance and crash-avoiding sensors. Subaru and Kia disabled their “telematics” systems rather than run afoul of a voter-backed law to give independent mechanics more access to a car’s repair data. It mirrors a broader battle over who has the “right to repair” increasingly complex electronic products — from iPhones to tractors.

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Critics say mild UK sanctions on Russia don’t match promises

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LONDON (AP) — Britain promised to hit Russia with “powerful” sanctions over its military confrontation with Ukraine. But the slim sheaf of measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson has disappointed allies and critics alike. The U.K. has slapped asset freezes and travel bans on three wealthy Russians and sanctioned five Russian banks in response to President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine. Johnson says there will be more to come if there is a “full-scale” Russian invasion. But critics say that could be too little, too late. Financier and anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder said that of all the international sanctions announced so far, only the American ones would have “stung Putin.”

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Ford CEO: No plan to spin off EV business, but change coming

DETROIT (AP) — The CEO of Ford Motor Co. says the automaker has no plans to spin off its electric vehicle or internal combustion businesses. But Jim Farley says Ford is reinventing itself to remove costs and ramp up for large-scale EV and software sales. Farley told the Wolfe Research virtual global auto technology conference Wednesday that Ford needs to hit Tesla-like profit margins by using common electric motors, electronic components and other parts across all sizes of vehicles. To do that, he said the company needs radically different human talent than it now has. He also said Ford has too many people and too much complexity, and it doesn’t have the expertise to transition to battery-electric vehicles.

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Lowe’s posts strong Q4 results on strong housing market

NEW YORK (AP) — Lowe’s Cos., the nation’s second-largest home improvement chain, offered an upbeat annual outlook after reporting strong fiscal fourth-quarter results that showed a still sizzling housing market. The report follows a robust report from larger rival Home Depot. Lowe’s, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, said that it earned $1.21 billion, or $1.78 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 28. The home improvement retailer posted revenue of $21.34 billion in the period. Earnings and revenue both beat Wall Street expectations. Lowe’s also forecast results for the current year ahead of estimates.

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Automaker Stellantis reaps $15B profit in 1st year of merger

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automaker Stellantis says it made a solid 13.4 billion euros in its first year. That’s three times the profit from the two separate companies that combined to make Stellantis at the start of the 2021. The company said Wednesday that the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group paid off in cost efficiencies worth more than 3 billion euros. The company scaled up its production of battery cars, joining a global trend as it made almost 400,000 low-emission vehicles. The company also announced that its 43,000 U.S. workers represented by the United Auto Workers union will get record profit-sharing checks of $14,670.

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Judge blocks BNSF’s 2 biggest unions from going on strike

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has extended an order preventing the two largest unions at BNSF from going on strike over a new attendance policy the railroad imposed this month. The judge ruled that a strike by the unions that represent 17,000 BNSF workers would violate federal law. He determined the issue is a minor dispute under their contracts, so it must be settled through negotiations or arbitration. Union leaders said they were “infuriated” by the ruling and will consider appealing. The unions argued that the new rules discourage workers from taking sick time during the pandemic and penalize employees for missing work for any reason.

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The S&P 500 fell 79.26 points, or 1.8%, to 4,225.50. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 464.85 points, or 1.4%, to 33,131.76. The Nasdaq lost 344.03 points, or 2.6%, to 13,037.49. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 36.08 points, or 1.8%, to 1,944.09.