Business Highlights: Bountiful Thanksgiving, retail sales soar

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Rising grocery costs hurt Thanksgiving dinner

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percentage increases in the prices of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin and other staples. Higher production costs are only part of the reason; Illness, inclement weather and the war in Ukraine also contribute. Shipments to Turkey are at their lowest since 1986 after deadly bird flu wiped out flocks, and prices are up about 28%. But experts say there won’t be a shortage of whole birds because producers have shifted production to meet Thanksgiving demand. Meanwhile, stores like Walmart, Lidl and Aldi are offering deals to help alleviate sticker shock.

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A key Fed official says he is open to a slowdown in rate hikes in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Christopher Waller, a key Federal Reserve official, added his voice to a rising number of Fed officials who have indicated the central bank is likely to slow the pace of its rate hikes beginning in December. Waller, a member of the Fed’s board of governors, said he was poised to raise the Fed’s interest rate by half a point next month amid signs that inflation was cooling. At each of its four most recent monetary policy meetings, the central bank has raised interest rates by an aggressive three-quarter point. The cumulative effect has been to make many consumer and business loans more expensive and increase the risk of a recession.

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US retail sales rose 1.3% last month, a sign of resilience

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans have increased spending at retailers, restaurants and auto dealerships over the past month, a sign of consumer resilience as the holiday shopping season begins amid painfully high inflation and rising interest rates. The government said on Wednesday that retail sales rose 1.3% in October vs. September from a flat reading in September vs. August. The increase was led by car sales and higher gasoline prices. However, excluding autos and gas, retail spending rose 0.9% last month. Even adjusted for inflation, spending grew at a solid pace. Prices rose by 0.4% in October compared to September.

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Amazon begins mass layoffs of its corporate workforce

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has begun mass layoffs across its corporate ranks, becoming the latest tech company to shed its workforce amid mounting concerns about the broader economic environment. On Tuesday, the company told regional authorities in California that it was laying off about 260 employees at various facilities that employ data scientists, software engineers and other company employees. The company declined to say how many more layoffs may be in the works, beyond those confirmed by the California filing. Some company employees in Seattle, Washington said on LinkedIn Tuesday that they were also fired. In an announcement posted on its website on Wednesday, Amazon said affected employees were notified on Tuesday.

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Musk testifies about Tesla’s compensation package at trial

WILMINGTON, Delaware (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk is defending himself in a shareholder lawsuit over a compensation package awarded to him by the company’s board that is potentially worth more than $55 billion. Musk appeared in a Delaware courtroom on Wednesday. He denied that he dictated the terms of the 2018 compensation package or attended any board or committee meetings where the plan was discussed. Instead, Musk said he was fully focused on running the business. A shareholder plaintiff’s attorney spent much of his early cross-examination trying to get Musk to admit that he controls Tesla to such an extent that he can get the board to do his will.

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Musk says he expects to find a new Twitter CEO “over time.”

NEW YORK (AP) — Billionaire Elon Musk, who has just assumed the position of chief executive at Twitter after buying the company, says he doesn’t want to be CEO of a company. Musk took the stand on Wednesday in a Delaware court to defend himself in a shareholder lawsuit against a compensation package awarded to him by Tesla’s board of directors that is potentially worth more than $55 billion. During his testimony, Musk said, “I expect to cut back on my time on Twitter and find someone to run Twitter over time. Musk previously emailed Twitter employees telling them they needed to be “extremely hardcore” to build “a groundbreaking Twitter 2.0.” He said anyone who couldn’t keep up could quit.

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Tom Brady, Larry David, other celebrities in FTX suits

NEW YORK (AP) – A host of Hollywood and sports stars, including Larry David and Tom Brady, have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange FTX, arguing that their celebrity status blames them for promoting the firm’s failed business model. FTX has been in the public eye for more than a week after the third largest cryptocurrency exchange suffered billions of dollars in losses and was forced to file for bankruptcy protection. The lawsuit names “Seinfeld” creator David, star quarterback Brady, basketball players Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry, and tennis star Naomi Osaka, among others.

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House committee to hold hearing on crypto exchange FTX collapse

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawmakers plan to probe the outage of FTX, the major crypto exchange that collapsed last week and filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving investors and customers staring at losses that could total billions of dollars. The House Financial Services Committee said Wednesday it expects to hear from Sam Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old founder and former CEO of FTX who was previously hailed as a hero in the crypto community but now has potential civil and is facing criminal charges related to the collapse of FTX. The panel is also awaiting testimony from FTX officials, other crypto exchanges including Binance, Bankman-Frieds hedge funds, Alameda Research and others at a hearing in December.

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The S&P 500 fell 32.94 points, or 0.8%, to 3,958.79. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 39.09 points, or 0.1%, to 33,553.83. The Nasdaq lost 174.75 points, or 1.5%, to 11,183.66. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 36.04 points, or 1.9%, to 1,853.17.

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