Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 16, 2022

G-20 says Russia's invasion of Ukraine has worsened global economic problems, producer-price increases slowed in October, and more

1

G-20 closing statement says Ukraine war hurts global economy

Members of the Group of 20 leading economies concluded their summit in Indonesia on Wednesday with a declaration condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and warning the conflict was "exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy." The closing statement included a clear denunciation of the war despite divisions — the G-20 includes Russia and countries, like India and China, with important trade links to Moscow. "Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering," the statement said. The careful wording showed that the United States and its allies face challenges as they seek to pressure Russia to end the war, with smaller G-20 members, including host Indonesia, reluctant to get involved in disputes among larger powers.

2

Stocks jump after latest data showing slowing inflation

U.S. stocks jumped Tuesday after data showed that supplier price-increases slowed in October. The producer-price index increased by 8 percent on an annual basis, down from 8.4 percent in September and 11.7 percent in March. The news boosted hopes that Federal Reserve interest rate hikes were curbing inflation, so the central bank could soon back off. The S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 1.4 percent. "We've obviously been through a very tough period for inflation, but there really is now good evidence that the worst is behind us," said Charlie Bobrinskoy, portfolio manager and head of the investment group at Ariel Investments. Futures were little changed early Wednesday.

3

Walmart agrees to pay $3.1 billion over alleged role in opioid crisis

Walmart on Tuesday said it had agreed to a $3.1 billion plan to settle lawsuits filed by state and local governments over the role its pharmacies' sales of powerful prescription painkillers played in the national opioid epidemic. Walmart's agreement came two weeks after the two largest U.S. pharmacy chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., said they would pay about $5 billion each in similar settlements. Walmart said it "strongly disputes" allegations by state and local governments that it improperly filled some opioid prescriptions. New York Attorney General Letitia James said the retail giant would have to step up oversight to prevent the filling of fraudulent prescriptions, and to flag suspicious ones. 

4

Twitter fires 2 dozen workers who pushed back against Musk

Elon Musk's leadership team at Twitter on Tuesday fired nearly two dozen employees who had criticized Musk's changes at the social media company, The New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Musk also plans to eliminate contractors. The news came after cuts over the weekend to Twitter's contractor work force. The contractors, many of whom did content moderation and data science, were dismissed without notice, the Times reported, citing five people familiar with the matter. Musk, Tesla's CEO and the wealthiest person in the world, has laid off half of Twitter's 7,500 workers since completing his $44 billion acquisition of the company last month, warning that its finances are grim.

5

Lowe's, Home Depot earnings beat expectations

Lowe's early Wednesday reported quarterly earnings that exceeded Wall Street's expectations. Lowes said its third-quarter earnings came in at $3.27 per share, beating the $3.10 predicted in a survey of analysts by Refinitiv. The news came after rival home-improvement company Home Depot also reported better-than-expected results, with earnings per share of $4.24, vs. $4.12 expected. Home Depot said both professional and do-it-yourself sales grew as professionals continued to report strong backlogs. "We're navigating a unique environment," Home Depot CEO Ted Decker said in a call with investors. "We can't predict how the macroeconomic backdrop will affect customers going forward."

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