Business

Tencent and Netease Rally on Signs China May Ease Gaming Proposal
Business

Tencent and Netease Rally on Signs China May Ease Gaming Proposal

The stock prices of Chinese video game companies rebounded Wednesday after investors seized on signals that the government was having second thoughts about proposed regulations on gaming.Since the weekend, regulators have tried to calm the market after shares of the two largest video game companies, Tencent and Netease, plunged on Friday.When trading resumed after the four-day holiday weekend in Hong Kong, Tencent rose about 4 percent and Netease jumped 12 percent, recovering some of their losses. The companies’ shares rose again on Thursday, although more modestly.The events of the past several days underline the push-and-pull forces in Chinese policymaking. The country’s top leaders have acknowledged that they need to stabilize the economy, which has been slow to recover from being virtu...
Holiday Spending Increased, Defying Fears of a Decline
Business

Holiday Spending Increased, Defying Fears of a Decline

Despite lingering inflation, Americans increased their spending this holiday season, early data shows. That comes as a big relief for retailers that had spent much of the year fearing the economy would soon weaken and consumer spending would fall.Retail sales increased 3.1 percent from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to data Mastercard released on Tuesday. The credit card company’s numbers are not adjusted for inflation.Spending increased across many categories, with restaurants experiencing one of the largest jumps, 7.8 percent. Apparel increased 2.4 percent, and groceries also had gains.The holiday sales figures, driven by a healthy labor market and wage gains, suggests that the economy remains strong. The Federal Reserve’s campaign to rein in hi...
Red Sea Shipping Halt Is Latest Risk to Global Economy
Business

Red Sea Shipping Halt Is Latest Risk to Global Economy

The attacks on crucial shipping traffic in the Red Sea straits by a determined band of militants in Yemen — a spillover from the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza — is injecting a new dose of instability into a world economy already struggling with mounting geopolitical tensions.The risk of escalating conflict in the Middle East is the latest in a string of unpredictable crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, that have landed like swipes of a bear claw on the global economy, smacking it off course and leaving scars.As if that weren’t enough, more volatility lies ahead in the form of a wave of national elections whose repercussions could be deep and long. More than two billion people in roughly 50 countries, including India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, the United State...
Price Increases Cooled in November as Inflation Falls Toward Fed Target
Business

Price Increases Cooled in November as Inflation Falls Toward Fed Target

A closely watched measure of inflation cooled notably in November, good news for the Federal Reserve as officials move toward the next phase in their fight against rapid price increases and a positive for the White House as voters see relief from rising costs.The Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation measure, which the Fed cites when it says it aims for 2 percent inflation on average over time, climbed 2.6 percent in the year through November. That was down from 2.9 percent the previous month, and was less than what economists had forecast. Compared with the previous month, prices overall even fell slightly for the first time in years.That decline — a 0.1 percent drop, and the first negative reading since April 2020 — came as gas prices dropped. After volatile food and fuel prices we...
Choice Hotel Franchise Owners Push Back on Merger With Wyndham
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Choice Hotel Franchise Owners Push Back on Merger With Wyndham

When Patrick Pacious, the chief executive of a large portfolio of hotel brands, promoted a blockbuster attempt to acquire a competitor in October, he said the proposed merger would lower costs and attract more customers for the families and small businesses that own most of the company’s locations.“Our franchisees instantly grasped the strategic benefit this would bring to their hotels,” Mr. Pacious, who leads Choice Hotels, said on CNBC.As the weeks have passed, however, the reaction has not been positive. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the target of the proposed deal, rejected the offer from Choice, which is now pursuing a hostile takeover. And in early December, an association representing the majority of hoteliers who own Choice and Wyndham-branded properties came out strongly against it....
It Took 10 Years to Grow This Christmas Tree. The Price? $105
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It Took 10 Years to Grow This Christmas Tree. The Price? $105

Every day since the trees were planted has been a roll of the dice.Unlike commodities like corn and soybeans, which Mr. Wyckoff grows on another 90 acres he owns, there is no good way to insure Christmas trees against the harm caused by extreme weather, or the effects of an overseas war or a pandemic that freezes supply chains, he added.“Farmers are the biggest gamblers there are,” Mr. Wyckoff, 57, said. His family has been growing Christmas trees in Belvidere, N.J., about a 90-minute drive from Midtown Manhattan, since his grandfather started the business in the 1950s.Christmas trees grow slowly, about 12 to 14 inches a year, and can take 10 years to go from seed to harvest. Most trees he plants are 3 to 5 years old by the time he buys them from nurseries.To keep up with costs, Mr. Wyckof...
Gene-Sequencing Company Illumina to Sell Cancer Test Developer
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Gene-Sequencing Company Illumina to Sell Cancer Test Developer

Illumina, the leading producer of gene-sequencing machines, announced Sunday that it would sell Grail, a cancer test developer that it purchased for $7.1 billion in 2021.The move came two days after Illumina lost its case in a federal appeals court, which largely upheld a Federal Trade Commission ruling that Illumina should unwind its deal with Grail on antitrust grounds.The case was seen by antitrust experts as a test of regulators’ efforts to stop big companies from buying fledgling innovators.The deal had also faced a roadblock in Europe. In September 2022, the European Union said it would block the acquisition. Illumina, based in San Diego, previously stated publicly that if it was unsuccessful with appeals in either jurisdiction, it would divest the start-up.“We are committed to an ex...
New Mexico’s Spaceport America Is an Economic Dream Deferred
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New Mexico’s Spaceport America Is an Economic Dream Deferred

From his tiny gem store in southern New Mexico, Robert Hanseck spends his days untangling chakra beads and answering questions about the healing properties of amethyst crystals. After four decades behind the register, he has met thousands of wellness-minded tourists eager to explore the hot springs that span the region.But he almost never sees the type of traveler he was promised would transform his small town of Truth or Consequences: space enthusiasts.“It’s been a flop,” he said of Spaceport America, a project that was conceived as the vanguard of commercial space travel — and that has been promoted by state officials for more than two decades as a launchpad for the local economy.Less than a mile up the road, Arthur Burger, who owns an art gallery, recounted the moment in 2021, not long ...
State Dept.’s Fight Against Disinformation Comes Under Attack
Business

State Dept.’s Fight Against Disinformation Comes Under Attack

A Republican-led campaign against researchers who study disinformation online has zeroed in on the most prominent American government agency dedicated to countering propaganda and other information operations from terrorists and hostile nations.The agency, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, is facing a torrent of accusations in court and in Congress that it has helped the social media giants — including Facebook, YouTube and X — to censor Americans in violation of the First Amendment.The attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, and two conservative digital news outlets last week became the latest plaintiffs to sue the department and its top officials, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. The lawsuit said the center’s work was “one of the most egregious government ope...