The daily business briefing: January 24, 2024

The S&P 500 sets a third straight record, Netflix adds more subscribers than expected, and more

Netflix adds more subscribers than expected
Netflix adds more subscribers than expected
(Image credit: Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

1. S&P 500 sets another record

The S&P 500 closed at a record high for a third straight day on Tuesday, rising 0.3% to 4,864.60. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.4%. Investors digested a wave of earnings reports and waited to hear from more companies, including electric vehicle maker Tesla, later in the week. Netflix's surge following an unexpectedly large subscriber gain last quarter helped keep a tech rally going. "It's a crescendo of reports tomorrow and Thursday, and then next week will be even busier," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth. "We've got a lot of things to contemplate." Futures tied to the S&P 500, the Nasdaq, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up early Wednesday. Reuters, CNBC

2. Netflix adds more subscribers than expected

Netflix reported late Tuesday that it added 13.12 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2023, smashing Wall Street's expectations of 8.69 million, as the company cracked down on password sharing. The streaming video giant also reported earnings of $2.11 a share on $8.83 billion in sales. FactSet had predicted earnings of $2.22 a share on sales of $8.72 billion. In the same period a year earlier, Netflix earned 12 cents a share on $7.85 billion in sales. "We believe there is plenty of room for growth ahead as streaming expands," Netflix management said in a letter to shareholders. Netflix shares jumped 8.4% in after-hours trading. Investor's Business Daily

3. LA Times lays of 20% of newsroom

The Los Angeles Times announced Tuesday it had started laying off at least 115 employees — more than 20% of the newsroom. The cuts are among the largest ever at the 143-year-old newspaper. The LA Times Guild protested the looming layoffs with a first-ever newsroom walkout. The Times' owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, said the staff reduction was necessary because the paper couldn't continue losing up to $40 million a year without bringing in more money from advertising and subscriptions. Matt Pearce, president of the Media Guild of the West, which includes the Times' union, said Tuesday was a "dark day" and departments across the newsroom would be "heavily hit," although the number of layoffs is lower than the Bargaining Committee had feared. The Associated Press

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4. EBay to lay off 1,000 full-time workers

EBay plans to lay off 9% of its full-time workers as it tries to boost performance in the face of increasing competition and weakening customer spending. The online marketplace is cutting about 1,000 employees and scaling back contracts with other workers, CEO Jamie Iannone said in an internal memo posted on the company's website, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night. EBay had 11,600 employees globally, including 6,800 in the United States, at the end of 2022, up from 10,800 a year earlier. "Our overall head count and expenses have outpaced the growth of our business," Iannone said. "We need to better organize our teams for speed — allowing us to be more nimble." The Wall Street Journal

5. Union membership rate drops to new low

The U.S. union membership rate dropped to a record low of 10% last year, even though total union membership rose, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Unions gained 139,000 members in 2023 but the gains were offset by the expansion of the labor market by 2.7 million jobs. The previous low was set in 2022 in the post-pandemic employment boom. The share of Americans in unions has been declining since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting data in 1983. Union membership peaked in the 1950s, when more than 1 in 3 workers belonged to a union. Despite the decline, unions claimed victories last year after high-profile strikes by autoworkers, Hollywood writers and actors, and Kaiser health care workers, the Post noted. The Washington Post

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