Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian markets follow Wall St lower after Fed bump

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street lower after rising bond yields dampened enthusiasm about the Federal Reserve’s promise to keep interest rates low.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong retreated.

On Thursday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed down 1.5% after bond yields rose, which prompted some investors to shift money out of stocks. A day earlier, Wall Street hit a new high after the Fed promised to keep its key interest rate near zero through 2023. That helped to ease fears the U.S. central bank might raise rates in response to stronger inflation.

FORD-CHIP SHORTAGE

Chip shortage forces Ford to build trucks without computers

DETROIT 9AP) — A global semiconductor shortage and a February winter storm have combined to force Ford to build F-150 pickup trucks without some computers. The company says the pickups will be held at factories for “a number of weeks,” then shipped to dealers once computers are available and quality checks are done.

The move is the latest ripple from the global semiconductor shortage, which earlier this week forced Honda and Toyota to announce production cuts at some North American factories. Nissan also announced it would temporarily cancel production at factories in Smyrna, Tennessee; Canton, Mississippi; and in Mexico, due to the chip shortage. Some U.S. production lines will be down today through Monday, while others will be idled just for the weekend.

ELECTRIC TRUCK STARTUP LAWSUIT

Lawsuit claims electric truck startup defrauded investors

CLEVELAND (AP) — A shareholder lawsuit has been filed against an electric truck startup company in Ohio claiming it has defrauded investors.

The federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Youngstown claims Lordstown Motors Corp. has misled investors about the number of trucks that have been pre-ordered and when production will begin at the massive assembly plant the company bought from General Motors in 2019.

Plaintiff Matthew Rico seeks to have the lawsuit certified as a class-action complaint. One of the company’s first prototypes caught fire in January 10 minutes into its initial test drive.

The complaint is largely based on the Hindenburg Research report that said Lordstown Motors has “no revenue and no sellable product” and has “misled investors on both its demand and production capabilities.”

TWITTER-TEXAS AG LAWSUIT

Texas AG says probe to continue despite Twitter lawsuit

DALLAS (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says a lawsuit by Twitter won’t deter his office from investigating the content moderation practices of the social media giant and four other major technology companies. Twitter sued the Republican official this week in an effort to halt his probe.

Twitter says Paxton launched the probe in retaliation for the company banning the account of former President Donald Trump following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January.

After the riot, Paxton’s office demanded a variety of records and internal communications from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Apple. Paxton says “most of the companies have cooperated” and called Twitter’s suit “remarkable.”

STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS

Students who got partial loan relief to see full discharge

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration says students who were defrauded by their for-profit schools and received only partial relief from their federal loans could now have them fully erased.

The action, announced Thursday, reverses a Trump administration policy.

The Education Department says the change could lead to $1 billion in loans being canceled for 72,000 borrowers, all of whom attended for-profit schools.

The department says the action applies to students who already had their claims approved and received “less than a full loan discharge.” A senior department official says they are also reviewing the backlog of claims yet to be decided and those that have been denied.

The repayment program allows students to have their federal loans canceled if they were defrauded by their schools.

SWISS-U.S. HACKER

U.S. charges Swiss “hacktivist” for data theft and leaks

SEATTLE (AP) — The Justice Department has charged a Swiss hacker with computer intrusion and identity theft, just over a week after the hacker admitting helping to break into the online systems of a U.S. security-camera startup.

Twenty-one-year-old Till Kottman of Lucerne, Switzerland, was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in the Western District of Washington. Federal prosecutors said that Kottmann was initially charged in September on a range of allegations dating back to 2019 involving stealing credentials and data and publishing source code and proprietary information from more than 100 entities on the web.

Kottmann had described the most recent hack and leak of camera footage from customers of California security-camera provider Verkada as part of a “hacktivist” cause of exposing the dangers of mass surveillance.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHICKEN PLANT

Fresno chicken plant got tip about virus inspection

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A California newspaper reports that local health officials tipped off a chicken processing plant in Fresno County about a state inspection during the largest known COVID-19 workplace outbreak in the county.

The Fresno Bee says emails obtained through the Public Records Act also show health officials coordinated media talking points during the crisis, withheld information from the public and issued no coronavirus-related corrective actions.

Hundreds were infected in the outbreak last year at the Foster Farms plant in southeast Fresno and at least five workers have died.

The county says it has taken a collaborative approach with businesses to protect employees and that there was no collusion.

A company official replied that he wanted see how events developed before sharing more information, and that he would only speak “with members of media that are reasonable in their past coverage.”

MYANMAR-CHINA WORRIES

Myanmar factory attacks put focus on Chinese influence

BANGKOK (AP) — Confusion over what exactly happened during recent attacks on factories in Myanmar has highlighted the complex and troubled nature of its relations with China amid a broad public backlash against a Feb. 1 coup.

Many in Myanmar suspect Beijing of supporting the military’s takeover, but protesters insist they were not responsible for a spate of attacks on factories last weekend. Some accuse the military of instigating attacks on the factories to justify imposing martial law.

Adding to uncertainties, China says it’s prepared to do more to protect its extensive business investments in Myanmar, which include factories, pipelines and other big infrastructure projects.

NYC-STRIP CLUBS-LAWSUIT

NYC strip clubs sue New York state over COVID shutdown

NEW YORK (AP) — A group of New York City strip clubs is suing New York state, saying it’s not fair that they’re being kept closed when everything from axe-throwing venues to bars with live music and casinos can open up.

The Manhattan federal court lawsuit claims thousands of employees are forced out of work by the state’s ban. The “exotic dancing” clubs including “Starlet’s,” “Sugar Daddy’s” and “Gallagher’s 2000” are seeking a declaration that it’s unconstitutional to keep their clubs closed while similar enclosed establishments open up.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, comes as the state widens rules for bars and restaurants. A Cuomo spokesperson says science and common sense dictate no exotic dancing be permitted now.

HOTEL-PRICE GOUGING

TX AG accuses San Antonio hotel of price-gouging in storm

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas attorney general is accusing a San Antonio hotel of price-gouging during the big winter storm last month. The attorney general filed a lawsuit Thursday against Everyoung Hospitality, which owns a La Quinta hotel in San Antonio.

Attorney General Ken Paxton says the hotel exploited people who needed shelter during historic low temperatures.

The lawsuit lists examples in which customers had room rates rise from around $70 to $199 a night. A man answering a phone number listed for the hotel owner says the La Quinta raised prices as the number of available rooms declined, which he said is standard in the hotel business.

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