The daily business briefing: December 20, 2022
EU members agree on a natural gas price cap, Epic Games agrees to $520 million settlement of regulator's allegations, and more
EU ministers agree on natural gas price cap
European Union energy ministers on Monday agreed to a cap on natural gas prices after weeks of negotiations. The 27-nation EU agreed to enact a cap on the price of month-ahead natural gas futures on the bloc's benchmark gas exchange, the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, if it exceeds $191 per megawatt hour for three straight working days. The cap, which also applies to three-month and year-ahead gas futures, will stay in place at least 20 working days once imposed. The policy is scheduled to take effect Feb. 15. The cap is one of the steps the EU has taken this year to counter rising prices and squeezed energy supplies since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Epic Games to pay $520 million in record FTC settlement
Epic Games Inc., the video game developer behind Fortnite, has agreed to pay $520 million to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that it violated online privacy laws for children and purposely misled customers into making unintended purchases, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The record-breaking settlement covered two separate civil complaints against Epic. One accused the game developer of violating the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting children's personal information without their parents' consent. The lawsuit also noted that Fortnite allowed voice and text chat by default, potentially exposing players to harmful contact with strangers. The second complaint accuses the company of tricking players into paying for goods and making it difficult to cancel transactions.
Bankman-Fried's lawyers say he agrees to extradition on FTX charges
Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of cryptocurrency platform FTX, has agreed to be extradited to the United States from the Bahamas to face criminal charges relating to the firm's collapse, one of his lawyers said Monday. The comment came after a chaotic court hearing in the Bahamas, where FTX is based and Bankman-Fried was arrested, was halted. Attorneys for Bankman-Fried had argued it was premature for him to appear in the court. "Mr. Bankman-Fried wishes to put the customers right, and that is what has driven his decision," local defense attorney Jerone Roberts told reporters, according to The New York Times. Before Monday's hearing, Bankman-Fried's lawyers had said he would fight extradition.
Chinese cities scramble to handle COVID wave after restrictions lifted
Cities across China on Tuesday rushed to build fever-screening clinics and add hospital beds to handle rising coronavirus infections following the government's relaxing of its strict "zero-COVID" policy. Lockdowns and testing requirements under that program had dragged down the world's second-largest economy and sparked rare anti-government protests. Beijing reported five more deaths as COVID spread rapidly now that the restrictions have been eased. Public health experts said China's COVID wave could be big, as people who have resisted vaccines and lack natural immunity face a sudden risk of exposure. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said potential mutations of the virus in a major Chinese outbreak could pose "a threat for people everywhere"
Stock futures muted as hopes for Santa rally fade
U.S. stock futures were little changed early Tuesday as concerns about economic fallout from rising interest rates continued to dampen hopes for a so-called Santa Claus rally. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. S&P 500 futures were flat, and Nasdaq futures were down 0.1 percent after the Bank of Japan, which has resisted raising borrowing costs to fight inflation, said it would let the benchmark 10-year government bond yield as much as 0.5 percent, up from the previous 0.25 percent cap. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, on Monday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 1.5 percent, with Wall Street on track to end December and 2022 with losses.