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Business Highlights: Meta’s profit slips, CNN president out

February 2, 2022 GMT

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Shares of Facebook parent Meta plunge 22% on lower profits

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, saw its stock plunge after-hours Wednesday after reporting a rare decline in its fourth quarter profit due to a sharp increase in expenses. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said it earned $10.29 billion, or $3.67 per share, in the final three months of 2021. That’s down 8% from $11.22 billion, or $3.88 per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose to 20% to $33.67 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $3.85 per share on revenue of $33.36 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

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CNN president resigns after relationship with co-worker

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN President Jeff Zucker has abruptly resigned after acknowledging a consensual relationship with another network executive. The entanglement came to light during an investigation of now-fired anchor Chris Cuomo. Zucker said Wednesday that he was required to disclose the relationship when it began but he did not. The Cuomo investigation revealed that the former anchor had aided his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as he navigated a sexual harassment scandal. The CEO of WarnerMedia told employees that an interim leadership plan would be announced shortly. Zucker, who is 56, has been an industry leader since he was executive producer of the “Today” show in the 1990s.

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Pandemic creates openings for would-be entrepreneurs

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of Americans looking to start their own business is on the rise, as the coronavirus pandemic creates opportunities for some would-be entrepreneurs. People are starting businesses for a variety of reasons: some lost their job during the pandemic and decided to make their “side hustle” their main occupation. Others reevaluated their priorities and decided to leave the corporate world. Some took advantage of the flexibility of working remotely and lower commercial rents. Now, these new owners are also dealing with the problems the pandemic has posed for many established businesses: changing guidance from health officials, difficulty reaching customers, snags in the supply chain and general uncertainty about what’s ahead.

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Caution from OPEC+ producers to keep oil prices high

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Major oil-producing countries are adding just a bit more oil to the global economy. The decision Wednesday is likely to support prices that are near their highest level in seven years. The 23-member OPEC+ alliance is sticking with its road map and is adding 400,000 barrels per day in March. The oil producers are gradually restoring cuts they made when the pandemic was at its worst. Fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine are adding to supply concerns because Russia is a major oil producer and could be hit with sanctions by the U.S. and Europe. One result: Drivers will pay more for gas.

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Inflation in 19 countries using the euro hits another record

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Inflation fed by high oil and gas prices hit record levels in Europe for the third month in a row. That’s extending pain for consumers and sharpening questions about future moves by the European Central Bank. European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported Wednesday that the 19 countries using the euro currency saw consumer prices increase by an annual 5.1% in January.

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EU wants to allow natural gas, nuclear in green investment

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission wants to include nuclear energy and natural gas in its plans for building a climate-friendly future. Wednesday’s proposal from the European Commission has divided member countries and drawn outcry from environmentalists as “greenwashing.” The green labeling system would define what qualifies as an investment in sustainable energy in the 27-nation bloc.

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Stocks rise on Wall Street, extending their weekly gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Wednesday, putting major indexes on track to extend their weekly gains. The S&P 500 rose 0.9% and the Nasdaq added 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6%. Big communications and technology companies helped lift the broader market. Google’s parent Alphabet rose 7.5% after it said its digital ad business propelled a 36% jump in profit last quarter. Major indexes are on track for solid gains this week, a welcome turnaround from January’s losses. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is used to set interest rates on mortgages, fell to 1.77%.

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FBI confirms it bought spyware from Israel’s NSO Group

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI has confirmed purchasing NSO Group’s powerful spyware tool Pegasus, whose chronic abuse to hack journalists, dissidents and human rights activists has long been established. The FBI suggested its motivation was to “stay abreast of emerging technologies and tradecraft.” It said in a statement Wednesday that it obtained a limited license for evaluation and never used Pegasus operationally. But critics wondered why the premier U.S. law enforcement agency needed to pay for access to a notorious surveillance tool already well-researched by public interest cyber sleuths. The U.S. blacklisted NSO Group in November, when Apple sued it in an attempt to shut Pegasus down.

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Travel groups want to scrap testing requirement to enter US

DALLAS (AP) — The travel industry is lobbying Washington for changes it thinks will get more people on airplanes and staying in hotels. Airline and tourism groups want the U.S. to eliminate its requirement that travelers provide a negative test for COVID-19 before boarding a U.S.-bound plane. The United Kingdom made a similar change last month. And tourism industry officials also say they are talking to lawmakers about tax breaks to boost business travel, which is recovering much more slowly than leisure travel during the pandemic.

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The S&P 500 gained 42.84 points, or 0.9%, to 4,589.38. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 224.09 points, or 0.6%, to 35,629.33. The Nasdaq rose 71.54 points, or 0.5%, to 14,417.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 21.22 points, or 1%, to 2,029.52