alphaAI's Friday Finance Fix | Fri. December 15th, 2023

January 17, 2024
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Welcome to our Friday Finance Fix Newsletter, where we bring you the latest updates on key financial developments shaping the economy and markets.

The Market Rips After Fed Chair Powell Speech

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record peak this week, propelled by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's year-end address. The central bank held interest rates steady at 5.25-5.5%, with hints of potential rate cuts in 2024. This signal, coupled with recent data indicating a slowdown in inflation, fueled optimism among investors, leading to a surge across all major indices. The Dow's year-to-date gain now impressively stands at 11.9%, outpacing broader market advances. Powell's cautious tone throughout the speech, focusing on achieving the 2% inflation target, suggests a carefully navigated path ahead.

The UAW Strike is Over and the Firings Begin

The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against the big three auto manufacturers brought significant contract improvements. However, the financial repercussions are now emerging. GM announced 1,313 layoffs amid production cuts, while Stellantis plans to let go of 3,680 workers, partly blaming California's vehicle sales laws. Ford, though currently not initiating layoffs, is halving its EV production, hinting at potential job cuts. These layoffs are part of a broader trend, highlighted by Etsy reducing its workforce by 11%, underlining the financial strains of the strike and a dampened demand for EVs.

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“Israel is Losing Support” According to Biden

In a significant deviation from his typically cautious diplomatic stance, President Biden openly urged Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider his approach to Gaza. Biden emphasized the necessity of involving the Palestinian Authority for a long-term solution, cautioning that Israel's current policy risks diminishing international support. Netanyahu stood firm against Hamas, highlighting his commitment to countering their influence in Gaza. The dialogue reflects a growing global concern over the conflict's direction and underlines the urgency of finding a sustainable peace path. National Security Advisor Sullivan echoed these sentiments, advocating for a two-state solution, a position Netanyahu currently opposes.

Warren Buffet Has His Eye on Occidental Petroleum Corp

Investment magnate Warren Buffet, through Berkshire Hathaway, has once again invested heavily in Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY), acquiring a significant portion of the company. This move follows Occidental Petroleum's announcement of the $12 billion CrownRock acquisition, aimed at boosting oil and gas production. Buffet's investment has stirred the market, reflecting a broader trend of major oil companies consolidating resources, as seen with Exxon Mobil and Chevron's recent acquisitions. This development positions OXY as a formidable player in the oil and gas sector.

Google's App Store Monopoly Crumbles as Epic Wins a Victory

In a landmark decision, a jury found Google's app store practices, particularly its mandatory use of Google Play billing, illegal. This verdict, stemming from Epic Games' three-year legal battle, is hailed as a victory for app developers and consumers alike. It challenges Google's app store monopoly, potentially abolishing the 15-30% fees on app purchases, which could save developers an estimated $12 billion annually. While Google plans to contest the verdict, this ruling could significantly reshape the app store landscape across the Android platform.

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