Business Highlights: Musk stock sales, Wall Street’s retreat
Musk sells $8.5B in Tesla stock as he readies to buy Twitter
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In the three days after he announced he had a deal to buy Twitter, Elon Musk has sold $8.5 billion worth of Tesla to help fund the purchase. Musk reported the sales in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday and Friday. Analysts say the deal could make Tesla investors nervous that Musk, who is the electric vehicle maker’s CEO, will be distracted by Twitter and less engaged in running Tesla. Musk is also Tesla’s largest shareholder and there is also concern that he would have to unload a large number of Tesla shares to finance the acquisition.
Tech stocks sink again, Nasdaq has worst month since 2008
NEW YORK (AP) — More steep losses for technology stocks pushed the S&P 500 down 3.6% on Wall Street Friday. The Nasdaq fell 4% for the second time this week and finished April down 13.3%, its biggest monthly loss since 2008. Amazon slumped after the internet giant posted its first loss since 2015. Big Tech has been leading the market lower all month as traders shun the high-flying sector. Tech has started to look more and more expensive after posting outsize gains during the pandemic and as the Federal Reserve steps up its fight against inflation with higher interest rates, which could slow the economy.
A key inflation gauge jumped 6.6% in March, most since 1982
WASHINGTON (AP) — An inflation gauge closely tracked by the Federal Reserve surged 6.6% in March compared with a year ago, the highest 12-month jump in four decades and further evidence that spiking prices are pressuring household budgets and the health of the economy. Yet there are signs that inflation might be slowing from its galloping pace and perhaps nearing a peak, at least for now. Excluding the especially volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose 5.2% in March from a year earlier. That was slightly below the 5.3% year-over-year increase in February, and it was the first time that 12-month figure has declined since February 2021, before the inflation spike began.
Exxon profits surge despite $3.4B hit from Russian exit
NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil reported $5.48 billion in profits during the first quarter as oil and gas prices rose steadily. That was more than double its profits during the same quarter last year. But the oil giant took a huge hit as it abandoned its Russian operations due to the war, and it wrote down $3.4 billion. The price of oil climbed steadily during the quarter after Russia invaded Ukraine, sending European countries which rely heavily on Russia for energy and others scrambling to find alternative sources for fuel.
New gas pipeline boosts Europe’s bid to ease Russian supply
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — European countries that are dependent on Russian imports are looking to get greater access to the global natural gas market through a new pipeline that crosses a remote border area of Greece and Bulgaria. The pipeline is nearing completion, and it would ensure that large volumes of gas flows between the two countries in both directions. The project is seen as an urgent priority following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and decision this week to cut off gas supplies to European Union members Poland and Bulgaria. The 180-kilometer (110-mile) Greece-Bulgaria pipeline connection is the first of several planned interconnectors as EU members scramble to edit their energy mixes to reduce reliance on Russia.
Poland is restoring gas supplies halted by Russian firm
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s state gas giant says it is gradually restoring the flow of gas to the municipalities that lost it after a Russian energy firm that faced Polish sanctions halted energy supplies. The state gas company said Friday that the Russian firm Novatek Green Energy complied without any problems with Poland’s demand to make Novatek’s pipelines available to Polish companies that are now starting to convey their gas to the affected areas. Poland introduced sanctions Tuesday on 50 Russian entities, including the gas firm Novatek, to curb the outflow of money to Russia’s war coffers. Novatek subsequently cut gas deliveries to the 10 municipalities it has contracts with.
Google adds ways to keep personal info private in searches
MOUNTAIN VIEW (AP) — Google has expanded options for keeping personal information private from online searches. The company said Friday it will let people request that more types of information be removed from search results. These include personal contact information like phone numbers and email and physical addresses. The new policy also allows the removal of other information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials. The company said in a statement that open access to information is vital, “but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private.”
Inflation hits record high of 7.5% in countries using euro
BRUSSELS (AP) — Inflation has hit a record for the 19 countries that use the euro. The European Union’s statistics agency reported on Friday that annual inflation hit 7.5% for April, topping 7.4% from March. The eurozone’s sixth consecutive inflation record comes as skyrocketing fuel prices boosted by the war in Ukraine weigh on the region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Eurostat says energy prices jumped a startling 38%, a testimony to how the war and the accompanying global energy crunch are affecting the eurozone’s 343 million people. The jump in European prices reflects some of the same factors that pushed U.S. annual inflation to 8.5% in March, the highest since 1981.
The S&P 500 shed 155.57 points, or 3.6%, to 4,131.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 939.18 points, or 2.8%, to 32,977.21. The Nasdaq lost 536.89 points, or 4.2%, to 12,334.64. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 53.84 points, or 2.8%, to 1,864.10.