Good morning. The price of eggs in the US have gotten so out of control that Americans are smuggling them from Mexico where they are significantly cheaper. US Customs have reported a 300%+ increase in egg seizures in some cities. Egg prices have jumped 60% in the country in the past year driven in part by an outbreak of the deadly avian flu killing chicken flocks and leading to egg shortages.
Mega gaming deal blocked
Yesterday the UK’s competition regulator, announced it was against Microsoft’s $70bn takeover of Activision Blizzard, the video game giant behind ‘Candy Crush’, ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘World of Warcraft’. The proposed tie up would create the third-largest gaming firm in the world by revenue. However competition authorities in the UK, US and EU are concerned the deal would reduce competition and therefore be bad for consumers through higher prices, lower quality or less choice. After an in-depth investigation the UK watchdog has suggested that selling Call of Duty - one of Activision’s biggest assets – could get the deal over the line. Microsoft said it would find solutions to "address concerns".
This week in a surprise product event, Microsoft rolled out new versions of its Bing search engine and Edge internet browser powered by the technology underpinning the wildly popular AI chatbot ChatGPT. It comes two weeks after Microsoft announced a multibillion-dollar investment in the chatbot's parent company, OpenAI. It also marks the latest in the rush by tech companies to leverage generative AI—software that creates new content from input prompts. Experts say it may pose a unique challenge to current internet search engines, returning conversation-style answers instead of a list of links. Google announced a competing platform called Bard this week, while ChatGPT reached 100m users just two months after launch.
US China trade record
Trade between China and the US held strong last year despite rising tensions. Bilateral trade between the world’s two largest economies hit a record $691bn in 2022. The news comes just days after the US accused China of spying using a balloon which sent diplomatic relations to a new low. The two countries have also been in a trade war since 2018 when then President Trump imposed tens of billions of dollars of tariffs on China which his successor Joe Biden has intensified.
Disney cut backs
Yesterday Disney announced it will reduce its workforce by 7,000 employees or 3% of its total headcount. It's part of a plan to reduce its cost base by $5.5bn over the next few years. The entertainment giant said its streaming service Disney+ lost 2.4m subscribers and posted a $1.5bn loss. After the difficult news on layoffs and losses, the company also announced that two new sequels to massive franchises — “Toy Story” and “Frozen” — were in development.
Another record: The FTSE 100 hit a fresh all-time high only days after a previous record was set.
Cutting back: Nationwide Building Society is set to axe hundreds of jobs as part of a shake-up of its business.
So it begins: Netflix has started cracking down on password sharing in four countries.
Dragon in the red: Former Dragons’ Den panellist Theo Paphitis says two of his businesses face “material uncertainty” after being forced into the red by Covid.
More tech cuts: Ebay announced plans to cut 500 jobs, or about 4% of its workforce.
Costly computer error: Google's parent company Alphabet lost more than $100bn in market value after an advert designed to show off its new AI bot went wrong.
- Why the healthiest people in the world don’t go to the gym
- This one-page calendar will change how you view the year
- Why Gen Z are struggling to make friends
Number Of The Day
How much fraudulent Covid business loans have cost UK taxpayers.