Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 15, 2022

Trudeau invokes emergency powers against trucker protests, Texas sues over Facebook's use of facial-recognition technology, and more

1

Trudeau invokes emergency powers against trucker protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday invoked emergency powers in a bid to break up the so-called Freedom Convoy protests against coronavirus restrictions that clogged Ottawa's downtown and blocked trade across key border crossings. Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that his province, the most populous in Canada, would lift its COVID-19 vaccination mandate in two weeks, but said the move wasn't in response to the protests. He said the change was coming because it was "safe to do so" now that the coronavirus surge driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant is subsiding. The province also will lift its 50 percent capacity cap on restaurants on Thursday, four days earlier than previously scheduled.

2

Texas sues over Facebook's facial-recognition technology

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday filed a suit against Facebook parent Meta Platforms over the use of facial-recognition technology, which the company has discontinued. The lawsuit requests hundreds of billions of dollars in civil penalties, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. Paxton said Facebook's use of the technology violated Texas privacy protections for personal biometric data, accusing the social-media giant of "secretly harvesting Texans' most personal information — photos and videos — for its own corporate profit." Meta said in a statement that the claims were "without merit," and that its users were notified and given the opportunity to consent to the use of the technology.

3

Stock futures rise as Russia moves some troops away from Ukraine border

U.S. stock futures jumped early Tuesday after reports that Russia was moving some troops away from the Ukraine border, raising hopes it wouldn't invade. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up by 1.9 percent. Concerns about the Ukraine crisis and looming Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes dragged stocks down on Monday. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was flat. Oil prices jumped to their highest level since September 2014.

4

Intel to buy Israeli chipmaker Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 billion

Intel Corp has agreed to buy Israeli chipmaker Tower Semiconductor in a deal worth $5.4 billion, the companies said Tuesday. Intel will pay $53 per share, a significant premium on Tower's Monday closing price of $33.13. The acquisition will help Intel capitalize on booming semiconductor demand and broaden its offerings as automakers and other companies grapple with chip shortages. Tower specializes in analog chips used in cars, medical sensors, and power management. Tower shares jumped by more than 40 percent in after-hours trading in anticipation of the takeover. The deal, already approved by both companies' boards, is expected to close in about a year, pending regulatory and shareholder approvals.

5

Musk donated 5 million Tesla shares to charity last year

Tesla CEO Elon Musk donated 5,044,000 shares in the electric-vehicle maker to charity from Nov. 19 to Nov. 29 last year, according to a Monday Tesla filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The donation, worth $5.74 billion, came as Musk sold $16.4 billion worth of Tesla shares after polling Twitter users about whether he should unload 10 percent of his stake in the company. Musk tweeted that he would be paying more than $11 billion in taxes last year as he exercised lucrative stock options. Bob Lord, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies who studies tax policy, said Musk would get a "huge" tax benefit by gifting shares instead of selling them, because he would avoid capital gains tax.

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