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Business Highlights: Musk testifies; Google lays off 12,000

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Elon Musk takes witness stand to defend Tesla buyout tweets

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Elon Musk has taken the witness stand to defend a 2018 tweet claiming he had lined up the financing to take Tesla private in a deal that never came close to happening. That tweet resulted in a $40 million settlement with securities regulators and a class-action lawsuit alleging he misled investors. The mercurial billionaire took the witness stand Friday on the third day of a civil trial in San Francisco that his lawyer unsuccessfully tried to move to Texas, where Tesla is now headquartered, on the premise that media coverage of his tumultuous takeover of Twitter had tainted the jury pool.

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Google axes 12,000 jobs as layoffs spread across tech sector

LONDON (AP) — Google is laying off 12,000 workers, becoming the latest tech company to trim staff as the economic boom that the industry rode during the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs. The Silicon Valley giant’s CEO Sundar Pichai shared the news Friday in an email to staff that was also posted on the company’s news blog. He said that the company has hired for “periods of dramatic growth” over the past two years but that was a “different economic reality than the one we face today.” He said the layoffs reflect a “rigorous review” that Google carried out of product areas and functions.

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Inspections of Ukrainian grain ships halved since October

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian grain and other food exports have slowed to half their peak rate under a U.N.-brokered wartime agreement. That’s created backlogs in vessels meant to carry supplies to developing nations where people are going hungry. Some U.S. and Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of deliberately slowing down inspections, which a Russian official denied. According to figures that the operation’s Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul provided to The Associated Press, average daily inspections of ships both heading to and leaving Ukraine hit a peak rate of 10.6 in October. Since then, it’s been downhill, with 5.3 so far in January.

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In soaked California, few homeowners have flood insurance

ACAMPO, Calif. (AP) — As California begins to dry out from its recent deluges, one stark reality is coming into focus: Only 230,000 homes and other buildings are insured against flooding in a state with about 39 million residents. That amounts to about 2% of properties. The federal government offers most of these policies, with the private market picking up just a few more. The numbers offer a perspective on the vulnerability of many people’s most important asset at a time when storms in a changing climate are able to carry more rain.

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Bankman-Fried’s lawyers say car hit barricade outside home

A car with three occupants recently drove into a barricade outside the California home owned by Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents. It was an apparent attempt to gain access to the property where the founder of crypto exchange FTX is under house arrest. Lawyers for Bankman-Fried made the disclosure in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan who is presiding over the criminal case against Bankman-Fried. They cited the incident while arguing that unsealing the names of two individuals who signed Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bail bond could put their privacy and safety at risk.

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US Treasury buys time for Biden and GOP on debt limit deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it has started taking “extraordinary measures” as the government has run up against its legal borrowing capacity of $31.381 trillion. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday urging them to act to raise the debt limit. Friction between President Joe Biden and House Republicans is raising concerns about whether the U.S. can sidestep an economic crisis. Markets so far remain calm, as the government can temporarily rely on accounting tweaks to stay open. That means any threats to the economy are several months away. But this particular moment seems more fraught than past brushes with the debt limit.

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Rally for tech stocks helps soften Wall Street’s rough week

A rally for tech stocks applied some salve on Wall Street’s rough week, one dominated by worries about a weakening economy. The S&P 500 rose 1.9% Friday, but still ended with its first weekly loss in the last three. The Nasdaq added 2.7% and the Dow rose 1%. Google’s parent company rose after saying it was slashing expenses by laying off workers. It’s the latest Big Tech company to acknowledge expanding too quickly in recent years. Netflix surged after reporting a jump in subscribers. Markets mostly fell this week on worries the economy may not be able to avoid a painful recession.

J&J subsidiary to pay $9.75M to resolve kickback allegations

BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a subsidiary of health care company Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay nearly $10 million to settle allegations that it violated federal and state law by providing free products to a surgeon. Under the settlement with DePuy Synthes announced Friday, the company accepts responsibility for giving the surgeon instruments for spine surgeries in the Middle East that were intended to induce the surgeon to use the company’s products in spine surgeries performed on Medicare and Medicaid patients in Massachusetts. The company in a statement said it cooperated with the investigation and is committed to complying with all laws and regulations.

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The S&P 500 rose 73.76 points, or 1.9%, to 3,972.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 330.93 points, or 1%, to 33,375.49. The Nasdaq rose 288.16 points, or 2.7%, to 11,140.43. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 30.99 points, or 1.7%, to 1,867.34.



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