Walmart and Target are cutting prices. What does this mean for inflation?

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Shoppers at a Walmart store in Secaucus, New Jersey, on March 5, 2024. Walmart is renovating more than 800 store locations and adding upscale products.

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Americans may notice deep discounts on some daily essentials during their weekly grocery shopping trips. This does not mean winning the battle against inflation.

Walmart saw first-quarter sales In stores open at least a year they rose 3.8% from a year earlier, partly because of their ability to keep prices low even as inflation remains steady. The largest U.S. retailer has been a mainstay for cash-strapped consumers shopping for deals on groceries and other goods.

Now Walmart is taking things one step further. The department store said on May 16 that it had cut prices on nearly 7,000 products in its stores, citing deflationary trends in general merchandise. He added that inflation during the first quarter rose by half the rate recorded last year.

“Our combination of everyday low prices plus a slew of rollbacks is resonating with consumers,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on a call with analysts.

on monday, The goal is to reduce prices On more than 1,500 products, from laundry detergent to cat food and sunscreen, with thousands more price cuts expected over the summer. For example, a 16-count box of Huggies baby wipes is down to 99 cents from $1.19, and Good & Gather brand roasted nuts now cost $5.29 from $6.89, according to a press release.

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On Wednesday, the company announced its fourth consecutive report A quarter of sales decline In stores open for at least one year where rising prices strain Target’s core middle-class customer base.

Other retailers, including Ikea and Aldi, have also cut prices in recent months.

Some economists say that while price cuts by retailers are a welcome sign that overall inflation has fallen, inflation in other areas is soaring. It also needs to pull back to reach the Fed’s 2% target.

Preston Caldwell, chief U.S. economist at Morningstar, said price cuts at big-box retailers “will be helpful, but we have yet to see housing inflation, which is a problem, decline, and wage growth continue to return to normal.” Research services.

Average price of a previously owned home in the United States It grew by 5.7% in April from the previous year to $407,600, the highest price on record for April. Wage gains slowed last month but remain above historical averages.

The Federal Reserve’s progress on lowering inflation stalled during the first quarter of this year, raising concerns that the central bank will not cut interest rates until this fall or even next year. Unemployment remains at historic lows, worrying some that the Fed will want to see the labor market calm further before it decides to ease its restrictive policy.

However, recent data suggests that inflation is falling again. Consumer prices rise 3.4% for the 12 months ending in April, down from 3.5% the previous month, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Investors will get more inflation data next week from the April personal consumption expenditures index.

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The economy is also showing signs of slowing. Americans are Default on their payments, drained their pandemic savings and became more frugal. Retail sales were unchanged last month compared with March, when spending increased by a downwardly revised 0.6%, in another sign that consumers are cutting back on spending.

Will Scarlett Johansson sue OpenAI for creating a voice assistant that resembles the actress’ performance in the 2013 film “Her,” about a man who falls in love with an artificial intelligence?

That’s how things can go After Johansson said OpenAI tried to hire her to voice ChatGPT’s AI assistant, and when she declined, she moved forward with a similar voice. Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, may be in the crosshairs of such a lawsuit, as my colleague Brian Fung writes.

Now, legal experts say Johansson may have a strong and credible claim in court if she decides to sue, pointing to a long string of previous cases that could result in significant damage to one of the world’s leading AI companies and raise questions about the industry’s role. Be prepared to deal with the many messy complexities that artificial intelligence faces.

OpenAI was clearly unaware of this legal history, or at worst willfully ignorant of it, highlighting what some critics say is a lack of industry oversight of AI. And the need to provide greater protection for creators.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There are two laws likely involved here, according to legal experts, but only one is likely to apply based on the currently known facts.

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Read more here.

U.K. regulators fined Citigroup £62 million ($79 million) on Wednesday over a failure in its trading systems that nearly dumped $189 billion worth of shares onto European markets, my colleague Anna Cuban reported.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Citigroup £28 million ($36 million).C(While the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority imposed a fine of approximately 34 million pounds ($43 million) after investigations into the US bank, according to authorities data.

Regulators reduced their fines by 30% because Citigroup agreed to settle the matter. Without this deduction, the combined fine would have been more than £88 million ($112 million).

“We are pleased to have resolved this issue over two years ago, which arose as a result of a single error that was identified and corrected within minutes,” a Citigroup spokesperson told CNN. “We immediately took steps to strengthen our systems and controls, and we remain committed to ensuring full regulatory compliance.”

The spokesperson declined to comment on reports that the trade was the result of a fatal error, where incorrect data was entered due to the wrong key being pressed.

Read more here.

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