Business Highlights: King on books merger, job openings


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Stephen King testifies for government in books merger trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bestselling author Stephen King has testified in a federal antitrust trial in Washington. Tracing his own history beginning as an unknown author in the 1970s, King laid out a portrait of a publishing industry that has become increasingly concentrated over the years. He testified as a witness for the US Justice Department. The government is trying to convince a federal judge that the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and rival Simon & Schuster, two of the world’s biggest publishers, would thwart competition. In his testimony Tuesday, King described himself as “a freelance writer.” He said publisher “consolidation is bad for competition.”


House panel subpoenas gunmaker for data on rifle sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — The gunmaker Smith & Wesson is facing new scrutiny from Congress. The House Oversight panel subpoenaed the company Tuesday for documents related to the manufacture and sale of AR-15-style guns. The move came after Smith & Wesson’s CEO refused to appear for a hearing on the firearms frequently used in mass shootings. The committee said the Massachusetts company’s CEO Mark P. Smith originally agreed to testify along with the heads of two other companies, but abruptly canceled. Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York says the company also has not provided all the information the committee needs for its investigation into gunmaker profits from AR-15-style weapons.


Stocks slip on Wall Street after another meandering day

NEW YORK (AP) — US stocks slipped Tuesday as Wall Street’s modest August retreat continued another day. Stocks wavered over the day as investors are unsure whether the market’s strong run in July is the start of a turnaround or a temporary blip. The S&P 500 finished down 0.7% and the Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell. Analysts cited comments from Federal Reserve officials that suggested continued hikes to interest rates are coming in order to knock down inflation. Caterpillar took a hit after reporting weaker sales than expected. Uber shares took off following its own strong quarterly report. Treasury yields climbed.


Number of uninsured Americans drops to record low

Washington (AP) — The number of people living in America without health insurance coverage hit an all-time low of 8 percent this year, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. The findings come days after Democrats hammered out a 725-page climate, health care and tax deal that would extend generous federal subsidies for people who buy private health insurance that are credited with driving down the number of uninsured Americans. Democrats have proposed spending $64 billion to extend those price breaks for three more years.


US job openings slid to 10.7 million in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — American employers posted fewer job openings in June as the economy contends with raging inflation and rising interest rates. The Labor Department said Tuesday job openings fell to a still-high 10.7 million in June from 11.3 million in May. In its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the Labor Department said that the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell slightly in June while layoffs fell. The job market has been resilient so far this year: Employers have added an average of 457,000 jobs a month in 2022; and unemployment is near a 50-year low.


Elon Musk’s tech allies miffed about Twitter subpoenas

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Elon Musk’s wealthy high tech allies don’t seem too happy about receiving subpoenas from Twitter as part of the company’s legal battle with the Tesla CEO. San Francisco-based Twitter is suing Musk in Delaware in an attempt to get him to complete his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company, a deal Musk is trying to get out of. According to a report from The Washington Post, Twitter’s legal team has asked for information about a host of tech investors and entrepreneurs connected to Musk in a wide-ranging subpoena. Twitter declined to comment. One of those receiving the subpoena posted in response a picture of a Mad Magazine cover of a hand raising a middle finger.


Starbucks reports record revenue as store count, prices rise

Starbucks reported record revenue in the April-June period, benefitting from hundreds of new stores and higher prices. The Seattle-based coffee giant said its revenue rose 9% to $8.2 billion, a quarterly record. That surpassed Wall Street’s forecast. Global same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 3%, which was just shy of Wall Street’s expectations. Starbucks said traffic was slower, mostly due to continuing closures in China. But customers spent more when they visited. Starbucks said its net income fell 21% as the company spent more on labor, worker training and supply chain costs.


Airbnb posts 2Q profit of $379 million on record bookings

Airbnb is reporting a profit of $379 million for the second quarter, and it says bookings were a record. The company also said Tuesday it will spend up to $2 billion to buy its own stock, something that usually drives up the price of shares. The results were a reversal from losses in the second quarter of both last year and 2019. Airbnb is benefitting from the increase in travel and the exodus of workers from offices, which frees them to work from just about anywhere they can get Internet access. Airbnb says bookings in the second quarter were about one-fourth higher than last year and the second quarter of 2019.


Uber’s stock surges on positive trends despite big Q2 loss

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber’s effort to meld its pioneering ride-hailing service with food and freight delivery showed signs of progress during the past quarter, even though the company sustained a huge loss stemming from a sharp decline in its outside investments. Rather than dwell on Uber’s second-quarter loss of $2.6 billion announced Tuesday, investors celebrated the San Francisco-based company reaching a significant milestone. The good news came under a key metric known as free cash flow. Uber generated $382 million in cash during the April-June period, marking the first quarter of the company’s 13-year history that it hasn’t hemorrhaged money. The breakthrough helped lift Uber’s slumping stock by nearly 17%.


The S&P 500 dropped 27.44 points, or 0.7%, to 4,091.19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 402.23 points, or 1.2%, to 32,396.17. The Nasdaq shed 20.22 points, or 0.2%, to 12,348.76. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dipped 0.86 points, or less than 0.1%, to 1,882.45.


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