The daily business briefing: November 27, 2023

Holiday shopping starts with strong online sales, X loses more advertisers, and more

Black Friday at the mall
Black Friday at the mall
(Image credit: Mert Alper Dervis / Anadolu via Getty Images)

1. Holiday shopping starts with stronger online sales

Holiday shopping got off to a respectable start over the weekend as customers facing dwindling savings and rising credit-card debt looked for deals. The National Retail Federation estimated that 182 million people would shop online or in stores between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Black Friday retail sales rose 2.5% compared to a year earlier, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores rose 2.1%, while online shopping was up 7.5% from 2022, according to a report from Adobe Analytics. Still, retailers are bracing for a hit as people drop store-brand credit cards, which have higher interest rates, in favor of general purpose cards. The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press

2. X losing more advertisers

Elon Musk's X, formerly Twitter, could lose an additional $75 million in advertising revenue by the end of 2023 as more major companies halt their marketing on the social media platform, The New York Times reported, citing internal documents. The defections are spreading beyond IBM, Apple and Disney, all of which halted campaigns on X last week. Airbnb, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and other big companies have also suspended their ads on the platform, or are considering doing so, according to documents from X's sales team. Some advertisers have objected to Musk's content-management changes. On Friday, X said $11 million in revenue was at risk, with lost business offset by increased spending by other advertisers. The New York Times

3. Elliott Management to push for changes at wireless tower owner Crown Castle

Activist hedge fund Elliott Investment Management plans to push for wireless tower owner Crown Castle International to find ways to boost its share price, Reuters reported Sunday, citing two people familiar with the matter. Elliott, a major shareholder, criticized the company's returns and pressured management to change its fiber infrastructure strategy three years ago. Crown shares have fallen 25% so far this year. Costs related to its fiber program have contributed to the decline, according to Reuters. Competitors American Tower and SBA Communications have fallen 6% and 16%, respectively. Reuters

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4. Stock futures struggle after four straight winning weeks

U.S. stock futures edged down early Monday after four consecutive weeks of gains. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down 0.1% at 7 a.m. Solid gains during the Thanksgiving-shortened holiday week lifted the major indexes closer to their 2023 highs. Stocks have rallied as the Federal Reserve signaled that cooling inflation could allow it to hold off on another interest-rate hike this year. The rally has boosted markets despite warnings that higher prices have caused consumers to cut spending. Traders this week will be watching figures from the start of the holiday shopping season, which continues with Cyber Monday sales. CNBC, Investor's Business Daily

5. 'Hunger Games' prequel, 'Napoleon' lead Thanksgiving weekend box office

"The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" and "Napoleon" led the domestic box office over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Overall ticket sales jumped 40% compared to last year but still didn't reach pre-pandemic levels. The "Hunger Games" prequel dominated North American theaters with $42 million in ticket sales from Wednesday through Sunday, including $28.8 million Friday night through Sunday. Ridley Scott's "Napoleon," starring Joaquin Phoenix, narrowly beat out "Wish" to take the No. 2 spot with $32.5 million over five days. "Wish" brought in $31.7 million over five days, coming in third in another setback for Disney after "The Marvels" flopped. The Hollywood Reporter

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