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Stocks decline to open week; another big bankruptcy in the crypto world

Stock indexes fall as China protests spread

NEW YORK — A broad slide on Wall Street left stocks lower Nov. 28 as global financial markets reacted to protests in China calling for President Xi Jinping to step down amid growing anger over severe COVID-19 restrictions.

The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent, clawing back all of the benchmark index's gains from last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 1.4 percent lower, while the Nasdaq composite slid 1.6 percent.

China, the world's second largest economy, has been stifled by a "zero COVID" policy which includes lockdowns that continually threaten the global supply chain at a time when recession fears hang over economies worldwide. The recent demonstrations there are the greatest show of public dissent against the ruling Communist Party in decades.

The unrest stoked worries on Wall Street that if Xi cracks down even further on dissidents there or expands the lockdowns, it could slow the Chinese economy, which would hurt oil prices and global economic growth, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

"A lot of people are worried about what the fallout will be, and basically are using that as an excuse to take some recent profits," he said.

Another crypto firm says it's bankrupt

NEW YORK — Cryptocurrency lender BlockFi has filed for bankruptcy protection as the fallout from the collapse of crypto exchange FTX spreads outward.

In a Nov. 28 petition in New Jersey, where it is based, BlockFi claimed more than 100,000 creditors. It said it liabilities fall between $1 billion and $10 billion.

BlockFi Inc. said the move will allow it to stabilize the company and restructure. The financial reorganization plan will include recovering all obligations that it is owed by its counterparties, including FTX and associated corporate entities.

BlockFi said it anticipates recoveries from FTX will be delayed.

FTX filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month. At the time, BlockFi announced on Twitter that it wasn't able to do business as usual and was pausing client withdrawals as a result of FTX's implosion.

BlockFi has $256.9 million in cash on hand, which it expects will provide enough cushion to support some operations during the restructuring.

Businesses seek to avert rail strike

OMAHA, Neb. — Business groups are increasing the pressure on lawmakers to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month's deadline in the stalled contract talks.

A coalition of more than 400 business groups sent a letter to Congressional leaders Nov. 28 urging them to step in because of fears about the devastating potential impact of a strike that could force many businesses to shut down. Congressional leaders and the White House have said they are monitoring the talks closely.

Four rail unions are back at the table after rejecting their deals with the railroads trying to work out new agreements before the Dec. 9 deadline. Eight other rail unions have ratified their deals that include 24 percent raises and $5,000 in bonuses.

Whole Foods in flap over Maine lobster

PORTLAND, Maine — Environmental groups are once again at odds with politicians and fishermen in New England in the wake of a decision by high-end retail giant Whole Foods to stop selling Maine lobster.

Whole Foods recently announced it will stop selling lobster from the Gulf of Maine at hundreds of its stores around the country. It cited decisions by a pair of sustainability organizations to take away their endorsements of the U.S. lobster fishing industry.

The two groups, Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch, both cited concerns about risks to rare North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear. Entanglement in gear is one of the biggest threats to the whales.

Irish watchdog fines Meta over privacy

LONDON — Irish regulators slapped Facebook parent Meta with the euro equivalent of $277 million fine Nov. 28, the company's latest punishment for breaching strict European Union data privacy rules.

The Data Protection Commission said Meta Platforms infringed sections of the EU rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, that require technical and organizational measures aimed at protecting user data.

The watchdog opened an investigation last year into news reports that data on more 533 million users was found dumped online. The data was found on a website for hackers and included names, Facebook IDs, phone numbers, locations, birthdates and email addresses for people from more than 100 countries, according to the reports.

Meta said the data had been "scraped" from Facebook using tools designed to help people find their friends through phone numbers using search and contact import features. The watchdog said it investigated scraping carried out between May 2018 and September 2019.

The company said it had "cooperated fully" with the watchdog.

Europe's inflation likely hasn't peaked

BRUSSELS — The head of the European Central Bank said Nov. 28 that  she doesn't believe inflation has peaked after reaching the highest levels on record. She added that the bank isn’t through raising interest rates to combat those price spikes.

Christine Lagarde told European lawmakers that there's too much uncertainty to know whether inflation would come down soon in the 19 countries that use the euro currency. Annual price increases in the region hit a record in October at 10.6 percent. Lagarde said ECB policymakers expect to raise rates further.

The ECB has joined the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world in rapidly raising rates to combat inflation.

Macao casino deals go to MGM, others

BEIJING — Macao has tentatively renewed the casino licenses of MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and three Chinese rivals after they promised to help diversify the economy by investing in non-gambling attractions.

The announcement is positive news for owners who have invested billions of dollars to build the Chinese administrative zone near Hong Kong into the biggest global gambling center. But it adds to financial pressure at a time when revenue has plunged under anti-virus restrictions.

The government said regulators will negotiate final terms before licenses take effect Jan. 1. The former Portuguese colony is under pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government to diversify with retailing, entertainment and other industries.

Associated Press