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Business Highlights: Entangled sponsors, 'Pharma Bro'


Djokovic entangles sponsors in Australian Open vax uproar

NEW YORK (AP) – A lot of people are angry at Novak Djokovic.

And his sponsors may just wait it out. It´s unclear if the No. 1 seed can compete Monday in the Australian Open after Australian officials again revoked his visa over his lack of a COVID-19 vaccine. So far, there´s no sign sponsors like French automaker Peugeot, clothing brand Lacoste and Swiss watchmaker Hublot plan to drop him.

Djokovic has his brash moments like smashing his racquet, which some brands may be gambling is a hit with fans. But there´s a line. Experts say sponsors have to determine whether an athlete acted illegally or immorally if they want to nix a contract over bad behavior.


Shkreli ordered to return $64M, is barred from drug industry

NEW YORK (AP) – A federal judge has ordered Martin Shkreli to return $64.6 million in profits reaped from inflating the price of a lifesaving drug and barred him from the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of his life.

The ruling Friday by a federal judge in New York came several weeks after a bench trial in December. The Federal Trade Commission and seven states brought the case in 2020 against the man dubbed “Pharma Bro.” The states are New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Shkreli´s lawyer did not immediately comment. Shkreli has defended raising the price of Daraprim as capitalism at work.


Lawsuit: Google, Facebook CEOs colluded in online ad sales

NEW YORK (AP) – Newly unredacted documents from a state-led antitrust lawsuit against Google accuse the search giant of colluding with rival Facebook to manipulate online advertising sales.

The CEOs of both companies were aware of the deal and signed off on it, the complaint alleges. The original redacted lawsuit, filed in December 2021, accused Google of “anti-competitive conduct” and teaming up with the social networking giant. The unredacted version now offers details on the involvement of Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg´ in approving the deal.

Internally, Google used the code phrase “Jedi Blue” to refer to the 2018 agreement, according to the lawsuit.


December retail sales slip after a record holiday season

NEW YORK (AP) – Americans overlooked shortages, spiking prices and uncertainty over the omicron variant to break spending records during the critical holiday shopping season. But figures released Friday show that after spending robustly early in the holiday season, consumers sharply slowed their purchases from November to December.The National Retail Federation, the nation´s largest retail trade group, said that sales surged by a record 14.1% from November and December 2020 to the same months in 2021. Those figures blew away the federation´s own projections for growth of between 8.5% to 10.5%, and more than tripled the average gain over the past five years of 4.4%.


Bank profits soared in 2021, but inflation is front of mind

NEW YORK (AP) – Three of the nation´s biggest banks reported blowout profits for 2021 on Friday, helped by the improving economy and consumers and businesses willing to spend and take on loans.But Inflation is clouding the outlook for 2022, based on comments from bank executives to reporters and industry analysts. They foresee higher inflation this year and are faced with higher costs for compensation as the banks compete for talent and employees. Wall Street could hear similar comments in the next few weeks as the rest of Corporate America releases results and shares its outlook for the upcoming year.


Goodbye `godsend´: Expiration of child tax credits hits home


(AP) – For the first time in half a year, families on Friday are going without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit. The program was intended to be part of President Joe Biden´s legacy but has instead become a flash point over who is worthy of government support.

The monthly tax credits started arriving thanks to Biden´s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and the president had proposed extending them for another full year as part of a separate measure focused on economic and social programs. But that bill is stalled in the Senate.

More than 36 million families received the payments in December.


Netflix upping US, Canada prices with competition growing

NEW YORK (AP) – Netflix is raising prices for customers in the U.S. and Canada. The boost comes less than a year and a half since its last price increase, as competition from other streaming services increases.The Los Gatos, California, company said Friday that prices are going up by $1 to $2, depending on the plan. Price increases are becoming more of a regular feature at Netflix, which is facing saturation in the U.S. market. It got an influx of global subscribers during the pandemic, but is investing in video games as it looks beyond movies and TV for growth.


Biden nominates 3 for Fed board, including first Black woman

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden nominated three people for the Federal Reserve´s Board of Governors, including Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Fed and Treasury official, for the top regulatory slot and Lisa Cook, who would be the first Black woman to serve on the board.Biden also nominated Philip Jefferson, an economist, dean of faculty at Davidson College in North Carolina and a former Fed researcher. The three nominees, who will have to be confirmed by the Senate, would fill out the seven-member board. They would join the Fed at a particularly challenging time in which it will undertake the delicate task of raising its benchmark interest rate to try to curb high inflation, without undercutting the economic recovery.


Stocks end mostly higher, but still log another losing week

NEW YORK (AP) – A late-afternoon recovery in technology stocks helped erase most of the market´s losses Friday, but it wasn´t enough to keep major indexes from logging their second losing week in a row.

The S&P 500 snuck back into the green in the last few minutes of trading, ending with a gain of 0.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6%. Banks fell. JPMorgan Chase fell 6.1% after reporting that its profits fell 14% in the latest quarter.

Traders were also disappointed to see that retail sales sank 1.9% last month.


The S&P 500 rose 3.82 points, or 0.1%, to 4,662.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 201.81 points, or 0.6%, to 35,911.81. The Nasdaq gained 86.94 points, or 0.6%, to 14,893.75.The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 3.02 points, or 0.1%, to 2,162.46.

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