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Renault boosts profitability but Russia exit pushes it into loss

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Renault boosts profitability but Russia exit pushes it into loss

French automaker Renault said Thursday it boosted manufacturing profitability in 2022 but the sale of its operations in Russia pushed the company into a net loss.

Renault expanded its operating profit margin to 5.6 percent of sales in 2022 and aims to increase it to at least 6.0 percent this year.

Meanwhile sales rose by 11.4 percent to 46.4 billion euros ($49.7 billion).

“2022 has more than kept its promises: with results above our initial objectives and market expectations,” chief executive Luca de Meo said in a statement.

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“This performance reflects the energy and hard work of the Renault Group’s teams even as we have faced strong headwinds related to the disposal of our operations in Russia, the semiconductor crisis and cost inflation,” he added.

Renault handed over its 68 percent stake in AvtoVAZ, the largest carmaker in Russia with the country’s top brand Lada, to the Russian government in May as it joined an exodus of firms fleeing the country after Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

That pushed Renault into a net loss of 338 million euros for the year.

Despite that setback, de Meo said “Renault Group’s fundamentals have been thoroughly cleaned up and there will be no turning back.”

Renault decided to propose a dividend of 0.25 euros per share, the first time it will pay out to shareholders since 2019. 

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Wall Street drifts as Nvidia loses some more momentum

Wall Street drifts as Nvidia loses some more momentum

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Wall Street drifts as Nvidia loses some more momentum

 U.S. stocks are drifting toward a quiet close of the week on Friday, as Nvidia ‘s stock continues to cool from its startling, supernova run.

The S&P 500 was 0.2% lower in morning trading, though it’s still near its all-time high set on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 49 points, or 0.1%, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.3% lower.

Nvidia again was dragging on the market after falling 2.9%. The company’s stock has soared more than 1,000% since October 2022 on frenzied demand for its chips, which are powering much of the world’s move into artificial-intelligence technology, and it briefly supplanted Microsoft this week as the most valuable company on Wall Street.

But nothing goes up forever, and Nvidia’s drops the last two days have put its stock on track for its first losing week in the last nine.

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Much of the rest of Wall Street was relatively quiet, outside a few outliers.

Sarepta Therapeutics jumped 35.3% after U.S. regulators approved the use of its medicine for children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who are at least 4.

CarMax rose 2% after delivering profit for the latest quarter that edged past analysts’ expectations.

Gun maker Smith & Wesson Brands tumbled 12.6% despite reporting stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. The summer is traditionally a slower season for firearms, according to CEO Mark Smith.

Trading could feature many shifts during the day, with wide swaths of futures and options contracts to buy stocks and other types of investments set to expire.

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In the bond market, U.S. Treasury yields initially fell after a report suggested business activity among countries that use the euro currency is weaker than economists expected. Concerns are already high for the continent ahead of a French election that could further rattle financial markets.

The weak business-activity reports dragged down yields in Europe, which at first pressured Treasury yields. But U.S. yields recovered much of those losses after a separate, later report said U.S. business activity may be stronger than thought.

Overall output growth hit a 26-month high, according to S&P Global’s preliminary reading of activity among U.S. manufacturing and services businesses. Perhaps more importantly for Wall Street, that strength may be happening without a concurrent rise in pressure on inflation.

“Historical comparisons indicate that the latest decline brings the survey’s price gauge into line with the Fed’s 2% inflation target,” according to Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The Federal Reserve is in a precarious spot, where it’s trying to slow the economy through high interest rates by just enough to get high inflation back down to 2%. The trick is that it wants to cut rates at the exact right time. If it’s too late, the economy’s slowdown could careen into a recession. If it’s too early, inflation could reaccelerate.

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Hope still reigns among traders that the Fed can pull it off, and many are forecasting at least two cuts to interest rates later this year, according to data from CME Group. Of course, their predictions have historically been overly optimistic.

Fed officials themselves have penciled in one or two cuts in 2024 to their main interest rate, which has been sitting at its highest level in more than two decades.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged to 4.25% from 4.26% late Thursday. The yield on the two-year Treasury slipped to 4.72% from 4.74%.

In stock markets abroad, many Asian indexes were also lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.7%, and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.8%.

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American Airlines CEO says the removal of several Black passengers from a flight was ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines CEO says the removal of several Black passengers from a flight was ‘unacceptable’

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American Airlines CEO says the removal of several Black passengers from a flight was 'unacceptable'

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix, allegedly over a complaint about body odor.

American CEO Robert Isom wrote in a note to staff that the incident was unacceptable.

“I am incredibly disappointed by what happened on that flight and the breakdown of our procedures,” Isom said in the note this week. “It contradicts our values. … We fell short of our commitments and failed our customers in this incident.”

Three Black passengers sued the airline last month, charging that they were removed from the January flight because of racial discrimination. They said they were told that a white male flight attendant had complained about an unidentified passenger’s body odor.

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The men said they did not know each other and were seated separately while waiting for the plane to depart for New York. The three said they were among eight passengers – all the Black men on the flight, they said – who were told to leave the plane.

The men said they demanded an explanation for their removal during a confrontation with airline personnel in the jet bridge. At least one of the men recorded the discussion, capturing an airline employee seeming to agree that the men were discriminated against, according to their lawsuit.

After a delay of about an hour, they were allowed back on the plane.

American did not say how many employees were put on leave or describe their job titles. A spokesperson for the airline said, “We are holding those involved accountable, including removing team members from service.”

Isom said American would form an advisory group to focus on the experience of Black customers, to promote the reporting of discrimination allegations, and to improve diversity training to “focus on real-world situations to help recognize and address bias and discrimination.”

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In his note, which was reported earlier by CBS News, Isom said he had spoken with the president of the NAACP about the incident. The civil rights group did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

American has faced allegations of discrimination in the recent past. In 2017, the NAACP warned Black travelers about flying on the airline, claiming that several African American passengers had experienced discrimination from airline employees. American promised to make changes, and the NAACP lifted the advisory nearly nine months later. 

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Balochistan unveils Rs930 billion surplus budget for FY2024-25

Balochistan unveils Rs930 billion surplus budget for FY2024-25

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Balochistan unveils Rs930 billion surplus budget for FY2024-25

Balochistan government on Friday unveiled the Rs930 billion surplus budget for next fiscal year 2024-25, allocating a major chunk for development sector.

Balochistan Finance Minister Shoaib Ahmed Nosherwani presented the budget in the provincial assembly.

Salaries and Pensions

The mister the salaries of the government employees of Grade 1 to 16 would be jacked up by 25 percent while the officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get an increase of 22pc.

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The government has also proposed 15pc increase in pensions of the retired government employees.

Development Sector

The provincial government has set aside Rs321 billion for development sector. For the first time in the history of Balochistan, 70 percent of the approved development projects have been made part of the budget proposal.

Education

It has earmarked Rs149 billion for education sector, which is significantly higher than previous fiscal year. It has set aside

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Rs118 billion for construction of schools, which will create 535 new jobs.

Health

This year, the provincial government is giving priority to health sector as it has increased the budget for it by 30 percent to Rs67 billion. It aims at creating 242 new jobs in this sector.

Law and Order

The government has allocated Rs84 billion for law and order in the province while 7,000 new jobs in police and levies departments would be created.

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Agriculture

It has set aside Rs6.81 billion for agriculture sector. Meanwhile, the non-development budget for this sector stands at Rs16 billion.

Fisheries

The provincial government has allocated Rs5 billion for fisheries sector.

It has also allocated Rs1.2 billion for food department, Rs2 billion for forest department, Rs3.7 billion for industries and Rs7 billion for solar energy.

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