Business Highlights: World markets, Tesla sales

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares have begun the year mixed, with European benchmarks opening higher after a lackluster session for the few Asian markets not closed for New Year holidays. The IMF’s director, Kristalina Georgieva, said in an interview with the US TV network CBS that it expects one-third of the world to fall into recession this year. Over the weekend, Chinese manufacturing data showed weakening activity as COVID-19 outbreaks once again disrupted business activity. On Wall Street, stocks closed out 2022 with more losses, giving the S&P 500 its worst year since 2008 as it fell 0.3% on Friday. This week brings employment data and minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve as it battles inflation.

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Dems, GOP have distinct priorities for 2023: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — A poll finds Republicans and Democrats have sharply distinct views of what’s most important for the government to address amid high inflation. Overall, the economy in general remains a bipartisan issue, mentioned by most in an open-ended question as one of up to five issues for the government to prioritize in 2023, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from December . Thirty percent name inflation. That’s roughly twice the percentage as a year ago, although down from the 40% who listed it in June. More Republicans than Democrats name inflation, energy and immigration as top priorities facing the nation. Democrats focus on health care, climate change, poverty, racism, abortion and women’s rights.

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Macao eases COVID rules, but tourism, casinos have yet to rebound

MACAO (AP) — Gambling haven Macao’s relaxation of border restrictions after China rolled back its “zero-COVID” strategy is widely expected to boost its tourism-driven economy. The gaming hub on China’s south coast near Hong Kong has endured some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls for nearly three years. Now, China’s worst wave of infections so far is keeping away the hoards of high rollers who usually fill its casinos. From Dec. 23-27, the city only saw a daily average of 8,300 arrivals, according to police data. That’s just 68% of November’s level. Many shops remain shuttered, but businesses are hoping Lunar New Year holidays in late January will bring better luck.

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Power failures amplify calls for utilities to rethink gas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal utility’s decision to resort to rolling blackouts after coal and natural gas units went offline during dangerously cold conditions has intensified questions about the Tennessee Valley Authority’s recent decision to double down on fossil fuels. The utility was already facing scrutiny for its recommendation to replace some aging coal-burning power plants with natural gas. Then several coal and gas units had problems just before Christmas as the arctic blast brought strong winds and freezing temperatures. Critics of the utility say the problems that resulted in rolling blackouts are another reason to reconsider investing billions in new gas plants and pipelines.

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Tesla says it sold a record 1.3 million vehicles last year

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tesla says it sold a record 1.3 million electric vehicles last year. But the number fell short of CEO Elon Musk’s pledge to grow the company’s sales by 50% nearly every year. The figure topped the previous record of 936,000 vehicles delivered in 2021. But it was shy of the 1.4 million needed to reach the company’s 50% growth target. Sales grew 40% year over year, while production climbed 47% to 1.37 million.

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Chinese manufacturing weakens amid COVID-19 outbreak

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese manufacturing contracted for a third consecutive month in December, in the biggest drop since early 2020, as the country battles a nationwide COVID-19 surge after suddenly easing anti-epidemic measures. A monthly purchasing managers’ index declined to 47.0 from 48.0 in November, according to data released from the National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday. Numbers below 50 indicate a contraction in activity. The contraction was the biggest since February 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic had just started. The drop comes as China earlier this month abruptly relaxed COVID-19 restrictions after years of attempts to stamp out the virus. It is now facing a nationwide outbreak and authorities have stopped publishing a daily tally of COVID-19 infections.

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Banks seeks to quash women’s lawsuits in Jeffrey Epstein case

NEW YORK (AP) — Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase are asking a federal court to throw out lawsuits that claim they helped Jeffrey Epstein abuse young women and maintain his sex-trafficking ring. The banks argue they provided routine services to Epstein, and the lawsuits fail to show that they were part of Epstein’s criminal sex trafficking ring. The banks filed their motions to dismiss the lawsuits in federal district court in New York late Friday. The lawsuits, filed by two women both identified as Jane Doe, say the banks should have seen evidence of sex trafficking by Epstein, the high-flying financier who killed himself in jail in 2019 while facing criminal charges.

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Dubai ends 30% tax on alcohol sales, fee for liquor licenses

ROME (AP) — Dubai has ended its 30% tax on alcohol sales in the sheikhdom and made its required liquor licenses free to obtain. The announcement Sunday ends a long-standing source of revenue for its ruling family to apparently further boost tourism to the emirate. It apparently came from a government decree from its ruling Al Maktoum family. However, government officials did not immediately acknowledge the decision and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. But it follows years of loosening regulations over liquor in the sheikhdom.

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