Business Highlights: Musk and Twitter, Ukraine’s economy
Tesla CEO Elon Musk won’t join Twitter’s board after all
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Billionaire Elon Musk, one of Twitter’s biggest shareholders, is reversing course and will no longer join the company’s board of directors, less than a week after being awarded a seat. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced the news, which followed a weekend of Musk tweets suggesting changes to Twitter, including making the site ad-free. Nearly 90% of Twitter’s 2021 revenue came from ads. Musk, it was revealed last week, had quickly amassed a massive stake in Twitter to become its largest individual shareholder. Agrawal didn’t offer an explanation for the reversal, but said that the decision was made by the mercurial billionaire.
Russia’s war to shrink Ukraine economy 45%, World Bank says
LONDON (AP) — The World Bank says Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45.1% this year because of Russia’s invasion, which has shut down half of the country’s businesses, choked off imports and exports, and damaged a vast amount of critical infrastructure. The World Bank also said Sunday that unprecedented sanctions imposed by Western allies in response to the war are plunging Russia into a deep recession and will lop off more than a tenth of its economy in 2022. The Washington-based lender said in its “War in the Region” economic report that the war is set to inflict twice the amount of economic damage across Europe and Central Asia that the COVID-19 pandemic did.
Efforts to make protective medical gear in US falling flat
UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (AP) — The push to make personal protective equipment in the U.S. is running out steam after an initial surge at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Associated Press identified more than $125 million of governments grants to over 300 businesses in 10 states to spur production of masks, gowns, sanitizer and other pandemic supplies. But the AP found that many producers ran into troubles getting equipment, materials and reliable buyers. Many have scaled back, shut down or given up. Industry officials say they need more help from the federal government to ensure there is enough American-made protective gear for future pandemics or emergencies.
California utility to pay $55 million for massive wildfires
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to pay more than $55 million to avoid criminal prosecution for two major wildfires sparked in Northern California by its aging power lines. The settlements with the nation’s largest utility also include five years of independent oversight, which prosecutors said was a key win, similar to a five-year criminal probation that PG&E served for misconduct. The civil settlements are designed to accelerate payments to hundreds of people whose homes were destroyed so they can start rebuilding more quickly than others who suffered devastating losses in 2017 and 2018 blazes ignited by PG&E’s equipment. The utility still faces criminal charges for a 2020 fire that killed four people.
Stocks fall on Wall Street, led by slump in tech companies
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell on Wall Street Monday, extending a losing streak from last week. The S&P 500 lost 1.7%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.2% and the Nasdaq fell 2.2%. Technology stocks sank and were the biggest weights on the market. Energy companies also slipped along with falling crude oil prices. Twitter rose after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he wouldn’t be joining the company’s board after all. Musk recently became the company’s biggest individual shareholder and is now free to increase his stake. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.78%.
Once a retail giant, Kmart nears extinction after closure
AVENEL, N.J. (AP) — When the Kmart in Avenel, New Jersey, closes its doors on April 16, it will leave just a handful of remaining locations for the former retail powerhouse. It’s a far cry from the chain’s heyday in the 1980s and ’90s when it had more than 2,000 stores and sold product lines endorsed by Martha Stewart and former “Charlies Angel” Jaclyn Smith. Kmart’s demise is attributed to the rise of Walmart and Target and online behemoth Amazon. But retail expert Mark Cohen says the company also was dogged by poor management decisions and could have stayed viable.
UK Treasury chief fights to save reputation in tax storm
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Treasury chief is fighting to save his reputation by requesting an investigation of his own conduct after a series of news reports on his family’s finances raised questions about his judgment. Rishi Sunak asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday for a review of all the disclosures Sunak has made since becoming a government minister. Sunak’s standing has been damaged by revelations that his Indian-born wife took advantage of rules that allow many foreigners to escape U.K. taxes on their overseas income. It came at the same time he was raising income taxes for most residents already facing a cost-of-living crisis tied to soaring energy prices.
Frontier CEO talks about airline merger, travel outlook
DALLAS (AP) — Barry Biffle is juggling his day job as CEO of Frontier Airlines while also working to save a proposed merger with Spirit Airlines that would create the nation’s fifth-biggest carrier by some measures. On the merger, Biffle says Frontier and Spirit are answering regulators’ questions, and he is not alarmed that several liberals in Congress are urging the Biden administration to take a close look at whether the deal will hurt consumers. The bigger obstacle to a Frontier-Spirit deal is JetBlue Airways, which made its own $3.6 billion bid for Spirit last week. JetBlue’s offer is higher than Frontier’s $2.9 billion bid, which was announced in February.
The S&P 500 tumbled 75.75 points, or 1.7%, to 4,412.53. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 413.04 points, or 1.2%, to 34,308.08. The Nasdaq shed 299.04 points, or 2.2%, to 13,411.96. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 14.24 points, or 0.7%, to 1,980.32.