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Dec 28, 2023
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• US holiday retail sales rise by 3.1%, but less than last year?
• New York Times suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright violation?
• Nike and FedEx's strong earnings hint at a positive US economy outlook? 
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Opening price as of 12/28/2023 compared to last close
Mastercard: US Holiday Retail Sales Up 3.1% but Lag Behind Last Year
Mastercard's latest report reveals a 3.1% increase in US holiday retail sales from November 1 to December 24. However, this growth fell slightly short of both Mastercard's projected 3.7% and last year's robust 7.6% surge. Despite promotions from major retailers like Amazon and Walmart, higher interest rates and inflation impacted consumer spending. Deals were more restrained due to post-pandemic inventory management, resulting in reduced discounts in December. Online sales slowed to 6.3%, while apparel and restaurant sales rose by 2.4% and 7.8%, respectively. Conversely, electronics saw a slight decline of 0.4%. The analysis excludes automotive sales but considers various payment method. Read more

NY Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft over copyright violation
The New York Times has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement. The lawsuit accuses both entities of using millions of Times articles to train AI models, including ChatGPT, without adequate compensation. According to The Times, these AI tools directly compete with their services, undermining their ability to offer exclusive information to subscribers. Despite ongoing negotiations, the dispute remains unresolved. The lawsuit seeks damages and a permanent injunction against the unauthorized use of their content in AI models. This legal confrontation sheds light on the unresolved legal complexities surrounding the use of copyrighted material in training AI models. Read more

Strong earnings from Nike and FedEx signal positive outlook for the U.S. economy
Quarterly reports from American economic bellwethers Nike and FedEx suggest resilience against inflation and economic concerns. Nike's Q2 results exceeded expectations, with $13.3 billion in revenue (up 17% YoY) and an EPS of $0.85, outperforming estimates despite margin challenges from inflation. This success could extend to other brands grappling with supply and inflation issues. Meanwhile, FedEx, though reporting a revenue miss at $22.8 billion, achieved an adjusted quarterly profit of $3.18 per share, beating estimates, thanks to aggressive cost reductions. These positive outcomes from key players offer a promising outlook for the U.S. economy in 2023. Read more

US labor market resilience keeps economy afloat as year ends
"There is plenty to cheer about the economy, and next year should be even better as the Federal Reserve takes the brakes off the economy now that inflation is going their way."
-Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS in New York
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