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Tesla files petition over speed-display concern raised by auto safety regulators

Tesla filed a petition with US auto safety regulators saying that 612,000 vehicles produced since 2012 do not fully comply with federal safety standards because displays can be switched from miles per hour to only metric measurements, documents released Friday show. However, the automaker asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to declare the noncompliance…

WhatsApp extends 'confusing' update deadline

Share noclose Share page linkCopy link About sharing image copyrightGetty Images WhatsApp has extended the deadline by which its two billion users must either accept its updated terms and conditions or stop using the service. The original cut-off date was… Continue Reading →

Xi Jinping asks ex-Starbucks CEO for help with US-China relations

Sounds like Xi Jinping wants to have a Frappuccino with Howard Schultz.
The Chinese president wrote a letter to the former Starbucks CEO asking him to help strengthen the fraying relationship between the US and China.
In the Jan. 6 letter, Xi encouraged Schultz and the coffee company “to continue to play a positive role in advancing China-US economic and trade cooperation and bilateral ties,” China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
Xinhua’s report didn’t say whether Xi has written to other American business leaders or what, exactly, he wants Schultz to do.
The letter came two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. His Democratic administration is expected to work more closely with Beijing on issues such as North Korea while largely maintaining President Trump’s aggressive trade policies.
Schultz led Starbucks’ expansion in China before he left his role as CEO in 2017 and stepped down as chairman the following year. The chain says it had more than 4,700 stores in China as of Sept. 27, up from 4,125 a year earlier.
Xi was replying to a letter Schultz sent congratulating the Chinese leader on “building a moderately prosperous society,” according to Xinhua.
Schultz — who considered running for president as an independent in 2019 but decided against it — did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
With Post wires

Bumble, female-focused dating app, makes its IPO filing public

Bumble made its IPO filing public on Friday, adding fuel to rumors that it will make its stock market debut in time for Valentine’s Day.
The female-focused dating app — which grew in popularity in the Tinder era by only allowing women to make the first move in conversations on its platform — is expected to list on the Nasdaq under the BMBL ticker.
In its filing, Bumble said that it brought in $488.9 million in revenue in 2019, and $376.6 million in revenue between Jan 29 and Sept. 30 of last year.
The app currently draws 42 million users each month, with 2.4 million of them paying for its premium features.
Bloomberg reported last last year that the company will likely seek a valuation between $6 billion and $8 billion. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are working with Bumble on the IPO.
The IPO date hasn’t yet been finalized, but it will land around the lovers’ holiday, though it won’t be Feb. 14 as Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year.
Bumble was founded by 31-year-old Whitney Wolfe Herd, who famously left hookup app Tinder after accusing a male colleague of sex harassment and launched the new product in 2014 with features to give women more control over conversations with dating prospects and to keep them from being stalked and harassed.
Bumble is the latest tech company to seek to go public as Silicon Valley’s top firms look to ride the stunning recovery in the US capital markets from the coronavirus pandemic that forced a number of them to postpone their debuts.
Airbnb and DoorDash both went public late last year, with the former seeing its value double almost instantly while the latter has almost doubled its $102 listing price. 

Wells Fargo records rare profit beat as credit costs fall

Wells Fargo posted a small rise in quarterly profit Friday that beat Wall Street estimates, as stabilizing credit costs helped buffer historic near-zero interest rates meant to prop up the ailing economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s fourth-largest bank, which has been plagued by hefty costs tied to litigation over the past several years, reported a drop in overall fourth-quarter expenses. But costs are still high due to a sales practices scandal that has haunted it since 2016.
Wells Fargo paid $321 million in customer remediation costs in the quarter, despite bank executives repeatedly signaling that the worst of the fallout, which has cost it billions, is in the past.
The company also took $781 million in restructuring charges as Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf takes tough measures to shift fortunes at the bank that he joined in 2019.
Scharf has targeted $10 billion in savings annually over the long term. The bank has also been offloading assets, including a possible sale of its asset management business to a private equity consortium.
Wells Fargo was once seen as the crème de la crème of U.S. banks: It avoided the kind of problems that Wall Street rivals encountered during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
But it has operated under a dark cloud since 2016, when details emerged about millions of phony accounts employees had created in customers’ names without their permission to hit sales targets.
There have been revelations about other customer abuses, and Wells Fargo has been unable to shake the damage caused by all the blunders.
“Our results continued to be impacted by the unprecedented operating environment and the required work to put our substantial legacy issues behind us,” Scharf said in a statement.
Wells Fargo is also constrained by growth restrictions the Federal Reserve placed on its balance sheet as punishment for the sales abuses.
“There’s no question that the impact on our financial performance is material in this environment,” Scharf said about the asset cap it operates under.
Because the bank does not have a large capital markets business like JPMorgan Chase or Citigroup Inc – which also reported results on Friday – it has fewer ways to cushion declines in revenue from low interest rates.
Total revenue fell 10 percent to $17.93 billion, missing average analyst estimates, according to the IBES estimate from Refinitiv. Net-interest income fell 17 percent to $9.28 billion in the quarter.
Shares of Wells Fargo were down more than 7 percent in morning trade after the bank warned 2021 net interest income would be flat to down 4 percent from the annualized fourth quarter 2020 level of $36.8 billion.
DEPOSITS LAG
Deposit growth has boomed across the industry as cautious consumers and companies save more and spend less during the pandemic. Wells Fargo added deposits at a much slower rate compared to peers.
Total deposits rose 4 percent, compared with a 20 percent jump at Citigroup and a 35 percent rise at JPMorgan.
The bank did manage some bright spots. It reported net income of $2.99 billion, or 64 cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $2.87 billion, or 60 cents per share a year earlier.
Analysts had expected a profit of 60 cents on average. The bank missed estimates in the first three quarters of last year.
Costs pegged to bad loans fell $823 million compared to last year and remained far below the level seen in the first half of the year when the bank racked up more than $14 billion in provision expenses.
Wells Fargo said it expects total 2021 expenses of about $53 billion excluding one-off charges.

Covid-19: Parents with childcare issues 'must get right to furlough'

Share noclose Share page linkCopy link About sharing image copyrightGetty Images Parents struggling with childcare due to the lockdown should have a legal right to furlough, Labour have said. Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said there was mounting evidence the lockdown… Continue Reading →

Scottish fishermen 'sailing to Denmark to land catch'

Share noclose Share page linkCopy link About sharing image copyrightGetty Images Scottish fishermen have resorted to sailing to Denmark to land their catch as Brexit red tape continues to delay exports, an industry body has said. The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation,… Continue Reading →

Retail sales drop for third straight month amid COVID-19 surge

US retail sales fell for the third straight month in December as the coronavirus pandemic led shoppers to pinch pennies and hunker down at home.
Retailers and food-service merchants raked in just under $541 billion last month — the lowest level since July — following decreases of 1.4 percent in November and 0.1 percent in October, the US Census Bureau said Friday.
December’s larger-than-expected 0.7 percent drop came amid a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths that pressured retailers even at the height of the holiday shopping season. Economists were expecting sales to remain flat last month, according to Wrightson ICAP.
“The COVID-19 lockdowns have sent consumers to their homes where they sit too worried about the outlook to spend a dime at the shops and malls across the country,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.
December’s retail spending was 2.9 percent higher than the year-earlier month but roughly 2.1 percent below the 2020 peak of about $553 billion that was reached in September, federal data show.
The slowdown came despite an unexpectedly strong holiday season in which retailers posted $789.4 billion in sales, an 8.3 percent jump from 2019, according to the National Retail Federation.
While consumers spent more on cars, clothes and personal care products in December, online and other non-store sales sank by 5.8 percent and electronics and appliance merchants raked in 4.9 percent less, the feds said.
Restaurants and bars saw a 4.5 percent drop while sales at food and beverage stores fell by 1.4 percent — a possible sign of food insecurity among Americans who are struggling to get by during the pandemic, according to Jonathan Silver, CEO of Affinity Solutions, a global insights and marketing solutions firm.
“One of the biggest takeaways from today’s numbers is that the lower income groups who had kept the economy running until the fall have started to show spending fatigue, likely related to stalled stimulus and potential unemployment issues,” Silver said.
December’s drop came as the US economy shed jobs for the first time since April as officials imposed a new round of lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
While the vaccines being rolled out across the country could help retailers recover in the coming months, “the pandemic has certainly altered the way we shop forever, so even when storefronts begin to open again, e-commerce will still be an essential source of revenue for retailers,” said Marwan Forzley, chief executive of the payment technology firm Veem.

UK to close all travel corridors from Monday to fight threat of new Covid-19 strains

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would close all travel corridors from Monday to prevent the country from new strains of Covid-19 to the UK. Speaking at the government’s coronavirus press conference on 15 January, Johnson said: “Yesterday we… Continue Reading →

Beyond Meat signs a big lease. The rest of L.A.'s office market struggles

The COVID pandemic hurt the office leasing business, which in Los Angeles County had a tougher year in 2020 than during the worst of the Great Recession.

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