Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 4, 2022

A jury finds Elizabeth Holmes guilty on 4 of 11 fraud counts, Apple becomes the 1st company worth $3 trillion, and more

1

Elizabeth Holmes convicted on 4 fraud charges

A California jury on Monday found Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the failed blood-testing start-up Theranos, guilty of defrauding investors by lying about the success of the company's devices. The jury found Holmes guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with each count punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Jurors found Holmes not guilty on four other counts related to duping patients who received inaccurate results. The jurors couldn't reach a verdict on three other investor fraud counts. Holmes, once a rising Silicon Valley superstar, had testified that Theranos experts had assured her the tests worked, and she accused her ex-boyfriend and former deputy at Theranos, Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, of sexually abusing and manipulating her.

2

Apple becomes 1st company worth $3 trillion 

Apple shares edged up on Monday, lifting the iPhone maker's value to briefly reach $3 trillion, making it the first publicly traded company in history to reach the milestone. Apple is now worth more than Walmart, Disney, Netflix, Nike, Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Morgan Stanley, McDonald's, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, IBM, and Ford, combined. Apple was launched out of a California garage in 1976. The computer and electronic gadget maker became the first U.S. company ever to be worth $1 trillion in August 2018. It hit the $2 trillion mark two years later. "When we started, we thought it would be a successful company that would go forever. But you don't really envision this," said engineer Steve Wozniak, who founded Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976.

3

White House pledges $1 billion boost for independent meat producers

The White House announced Monday that it plans to devote $1 billion to help small, independent meat producers compete with the four dominant meat suppliers the Biden administration has accused of driving up prices. The White House has noted that an analysis found that large meatpackers' profits have increased by 300 percent during the pandemic, while meat prices have spiked. Beef was up by 21 percent in November over a year earlier. The moves announced Monday include $375 million in grants to help independent meat producers, along with $275 million in capital and $100 million for the training of meat and poultry workers. "Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation," President Biden said at a White House event to discuss meat and poultry supply chain problems.

4

AT&T, Verizon agree to 2-week 5G rollout delay

AT&T and Verizon on Monday said they would delay rolling out new 5G wireless service for two weeks after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asked them to slow down because the new technology could interfere with cockpit safety systems on planes. Both wireless carriers had said a day earlier they would not postpone the new 5G service. AT&T on Monday night repeated a promise to lower its networks' power around airports, saying, "We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist." Airlines last week filed an emergency petition with the Federal Communications Commission to stop 5G deployment near 135 airports, warning the technology could cause widespread disruption of passenger and cargo flights, including delays and cancellations.

5

Stock futures rise after Dow, S&P 500 start 2022 with records

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Tuesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hit record highs on the first trading day of the new year. Futures tied to the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by about 0.4 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. On Monday, the three main U.S. benchmarks jumped, led by technology shares. The Dow and the S&P 500 gained 0.7 and 0.6 percent, respectively, with both closing at record highs. The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped by 1.2 percent, as industry leaders including Meta Platforms, Amazon, and Google-parent Alphabet rose. Tesla shares jumped by 13.3 percent on better-than-expected sales. Apple rose to make it the first company ever to touch a market capitalization of $3 trillion.

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