Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 5, 2023

EU regulator fines Meta $414 million, Amazon layoffs reportedly increasing, and more

1

EU regulator fines Meta $414 million

European Union regulators in Ireland on Wednesday fined Meta $414 million for privacy violations. The EU also banned the company from illegally making users in the 27-nation bloc accept personalized ads, a major setback for the company's ad business on its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms. Meta said would appeal the fines, imposed by Ireland's Data Protection Commission. A third case involving Meta's WhatsApp messaging service is still pending, and a decision is expected later this month. The ruling is one of the biggest since the EU, which has 450 million people, enacted a landmark data-privacy law in 2018.

2

Amazon layoffs reportedly grow to 18,000

Amazon is likely to lay off more than 18,000 in its current round of cutbacks, more than initially planned and the most of any big technology company in the industry's current troubles, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The layoffs will affect about 1.2 percent of the company's roughly 1.5 million employees. Amazon announced in November that it was starting to cut its workforce, mostly among workers involved with its devices, recruiting, and retail businesses. Amazon said then it expected the layoffs to affect roughly 10,000 employees. Thousands have already been cut in the effort to trim unprofitable units, according to the Journal.

3

Coinbase to pay $50 million fine in settlement with N.Y. regulators

Cryptocurrency trading exchange Coinbase has agreed to pay New York regulators a $50 million fine after an investigation indicated it allowed customers to open accounts with insufficient background checks, the New York State Department of Financial Services announced Wednesday. Under the settlement, Coinbase also will have to pump $50 million into its compliance program. The money will help the U.S.-based exchange block criminals, including drug traffickers and child pornography sellers, from establishing accounts. The settlement marked the latest setback for the cryptocurrency trading industry still reeling from the November collapse of FTX, once the world's second biggest crypto exchange.

4

GM takes back car-sale crown from Toyota

General Motors on Wednesday reported that its 2022 sales were up 2.5 percent compared to 2021, despite ongoing supply problems and cooling demand due to rising loan interest rates. GM said its U.S. dealers sold 2,274,088 vehicles, enough to vault it past Toyota to regain its spot as the top selling automaker in the United States, a title it lost in 2021. GM dealers sold 623,261 new vehicles in the fourth quarter, a 41 percent jump compared to the same period a year earlier. Chevy sales rose 6 percent. Cadillac and GMC gained 14 percent and 7 percent, respectively. A 44 percent increase in fleet sales over the course of the year helped.

5

Fed minutes indicate rate hikes to continue for 'some time'

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday released minutes for its December policy meeting indicating that some of the central bank's leaders were concerned that markets might confuse their decision to slow their interest rate hikes as a sign their commitment to bringing down high inflation was wavering. Fed policy makers indicated they expected to continue raising rates to cool the economy for "some time," with no rate cuts anticipated in 2023. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed up by 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, as investors digested the news. The Nasdaq gained 0.7 percent. U.S. stock futures edged higher early Thursday, as attention turned to labor data coming later in the week.

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