The daily business briefing: October 30, 2023

Biden plans to announce AI restrictions, Halloween spending expected to hit record level, and more

Halloween revelers
Halloween revelers
(Image credit: Evrim Aydin / Anadolu via Getty Images)

1. Biden to unveil 1st federal AI restrictions

President Biden on Monday plans to issue an executive order imposing the first federal regulations on artificial intelligence systems, including requiring testing of advanced AI products to make sure they can't be used to help make biological or nuclear weapons. In a Monday speech, Biden will recommend but not require that photos, videos and audio contain watermarks to indicate they were created by AI systems to address the rising fear that "deepfakes" could be used to spread disinformation during the 2024 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times. Previously, the Biden administration restricted the export of advanced microchips to China in a bid to slow its development of AI systems. The New York Times, The Washington Post

2. Halloween spending expected to hit record

Halloween spending is expected to rise 15% compared to last year to a record $12.2 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumers are continuing to spend despite warnings from economists as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to the highest level in two decades to fight high inflation. The National Retail Federation is expected to release its holiday forecast this week. "What's going to happen this holiday season is completely unpredictable," said Nikki Baird, vice president of strategy at retail technology company Aptos. "But this year, I will definitely be watching Halloween sales." Strong consumer demand in 2023 has helped the economy defy predictions of a sharp slowdown. Glossy, The New York Times

3. Stock futures rise after S&P 500 slips into correction

U.S. stock futures gained early Monday ahead of a week filled with more corporate earnings reports and the Federal Reserve's next interest rate decision. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively, at 7 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 0.8%. The S&P 500 fell into correction territory last week, dropping 2.5% for the week as it slipped to 10.6% below its 2023 high. The benchmark index has fallen 4% in October. The Fed starts a two-day meeting Tuesday that is expected to end without a rate hike. The 10-year Treasury note briefly rose above 5% last week. Rising borrowing costs have rattled stocks and convinced traders the Fed won't have to hike rates again this year. CNBC

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4. Higher prices lift McDonald's sales

McDonald's on Monday reported quarterly sales that beat analysts' expectations, thanks to bigger orders and higher prices. The fast-food giant said same-store sales increased 8.8% in the quarter that ended in September, compared to the same period last year. The company has warned that a broad economic downturn was looming this year, but said sales reached $6.7 billion in the quarter, up 14% from the same period in 2022. Profits rose 17% to $2.3 billion. Adjusted profits came in at $3.19 per share, beating the $3 per share Wall Street expected. The Wall Street Journal, CNBC

5. 'Five Nights at Freddy's' debut a 'game-changer'

"Five Nights at Freddy's" led the weekend box office, bringing in $78 million in North American and $130 million globally. The Universal and Blumhouse adaptation of the popular video game — a cult classic popular with enthusiastic young fans — cost just $20 million to make but scored the biggest opening for a horror film this year, beating "Scream VI" ($44 million). It also had the highest opening for a Halloween weekend movie, surpassing "Puss in Boots" ($34 million), and the second-highest for a video game adaptation, behind "Super Mario Bros" ($146 million). "This can be a game-changer, and another clear blueprint, for event-level horror films [and] game adaptations," Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice Pro, told Variety. Variety, Deadline

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