Ford to Increase Spending on Electric Vehicles to $30 Billion: Live Updates

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Credit…Jeff Kowalsky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ford Motor said on Wednesday that it would increase spending on electric vehicles by about a third from its previous plans and expects E.V.s to make up 40 percent of its production by 2030, a big increase in its commitment to electrification of cars and trucks.

The company intends to spend $30 billion in the five years ending in 2025, up from the previous target of $22 billion. It also said it has accepted 70,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, the electric version of its top-selling pickup truck.

“This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Farley, said in a statement.

Ford has gone from being a relative latecomer to battery-powered vehicles to making them a central focus. The company recently started delivering an electric sport-utility vehicle, the Mustang Mach E, that has sold well and been praised by car reviewers. The model also appears to have taken market share from Tesla, which until recently dominated the electric car market. Last week, Ford introduced the F-150 Lightning and President Biden drove the truck at a company track in Michigan and praised its rapid acceleration.

The increase in spending reflects new investments in better technology and production. Last week, Ford said it would form a joint venture with a South Korean company, SK Innovation, to manufacture battery cells at two plants in the United States for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

Ford’s stock was up nearly 5 percent Wednesday morning after the company’s electric vehicle announcements.

Exxon Mobil storage tanks in Rotterdam. Shareholders say the oil giant should invest more heavily in renewables like wind and solar energy.Credit…Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Exxon Mobil will face a big challenge over its climate change policies at an annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday as activists contest the election of one-third of the company’s board.

A coalition of investors concerned about the environment has argued that Exxon has not invested enough in cleaner energy, which will hurt its profits in the future.

These investors argue that the company should follow European oil companies like BP and Total that have begun investing heavily in renewables like wind and solar energy.

The hedge fund leading this campaign, Engine No. 1, is seeking to defeat the election of four of the company’s director candidates and has proposed four of its own. A victory for even one of its nominees would be a sharp rebuke to Darren W. Woods, Exxon’s chairman and chief executive. Some big pension funds, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, have joined Engine No. 1, which was started last year.

“We listen, and we hear,” Mr. Woods said in an interview in which he tried to take a conciliatory tone. “We don’t always agree, but we always understand there is an opportunity to improve.”

Exxon has argued that its investments in carbon capture and storage, including a proposal to capture the emissions from industrial plants along the Houston Ship Channel, demonstrate that the company is changing in its approach to climate change. This week, it announced that it would add two new directors to the board, including a climate expert, but it has not committed to investing in renewable energy.

Engine No. 1 dismissed the move, saying, “This vote is too important to be influenced by this type of cynical, last-minute maneuvering.”

A Royal Dutch Shell facility in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The company is expected to appeal a court ruling that it must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.Credit…Robin Utrecht/EPA, via Shutterstock

A Dutch court ruled Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, must accelerate its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change.

The District Court in The Hague ruled that Shell was “obliged” to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions of its activities by 45 percent at the end of 2030 compared with 2019. Shell is based in The Hague but is a global producer and supplier of oil and natural gas and other energy.

Shell has already adopted targets for emissions reduction, but the court requirements are likely to represent a substantial acceleration of the process of reducing emissions-producing fuels like oil and gas.

The ruling applies only in the Netherlands. Still, the defeat of an oil giant in a case brought by Milieudefensie, an environmental group, and other activists appeared to represent a kind of breakthrough in terms of a court’s willingness to dictate to a major business what it must do globally to protect the climate.

“The court understands that the consequences could be big for Shell,” Jeannette Honée, a spokeswoman for the court, said in a video on the court website.

“But the court believes that the consequences of severe climate change are more important than Shell’s interests, ” she added.

The court appeared to have accepted the environmentalists’ argument that not taking drastic measures on climate change would put lives in jeopardy.

“Severe climate change has consequences for human rights, including the right to life. And the court thinks that companies, among them Shell, have to respect those human rights,” Ms. Honée said.

A Shell spokesman said that the company expected to “to appeal today’s disappointing court decision.”

The company said that it already had an extensive program to deal with climate change including billions of dollars of investment in low carbon energy including hydrogen, renewables like wind and solar and electric vehicle charging.

The final shareholder meeting for Jeff Bezos as Amazon’s chief executive could be eventful.Credit…Michael Nelson/EPA, via Shutterstock

Amazon’s investors are gathering virtually on Wednesday for the company’s annual shareholder meeting. There is much to discuss, according to the DealBook newsletter: good, bad and ugly (from the perspective of Amazon’s management).

The e-commerce giant’s bumper profits are likely to be overshadowed by three major developments: the company’s expensive bet on the Hollywood studio MGM, a series of shareholder proposals that company directors don’t want to pass and an antitrust suit filed against the company that landed on Tuesday.

Amazon said on Tuesday that it would spend $8.45 billion to acquire MGM, which buys classic films like “Rocky” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” as well as the James Bond franchise. Approval from regulators would rest on Amazon’s argument that it’s a small player in entertainment. (Lina Khan, a nominee for the F.T.C. who is awaiting Senate confirmation, made her name with a paper about Amazon’s alleged antitrust abuses.)

The backers of several shareholder proposals, all opposed by Amazon’s management, say their aim is to make the company a better corporate citizen, reacting to accusations of labor and environmental abuses. New York State’s pension fund is calling on Amazon to conduct an independent racial equity audit of its practices related to civil rights, equity, diversity and inclusion. (Calls for racial audits have been a feature at many shareholder meetings recently.)

Another proposal would bar Jeff Bezos from leading Amazon’s board after he steps down as chief executive this year.

The District of Columbia sued Amazon on Tuesday, accusing the company of effectively prohibited sellers on its site from charging lower prices for the same products elsewhere, which raised prices on Amazon and beyond. “Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs,” said Karl Racine, the district’s attorney general.

It is believed to be the first antitrust suit against Amazon by an American government authority, but because it is based on local rather than federal law, its effect could be limited even if successful. Nonetheless, Mr. Racine’s argument “is both old-school and novel, and it might become a blueprint for crimping Big Tech power,” wrote Shira Ovide, The Times’s On Tech columnist.

VideoVideo player loadingThe chief executives of the six biggest American lenders testify before the Senate Banking Committee. Chief executives from Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and others are expected to address the riskiness of their assets, the diversity of their work forces, actions on climate change, pledges on racial equity and more.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The chief executives of the six biggest American lenders began testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, the first time the committee has summoned all the top bankers since the financial crisis of 2008. (They will also appear at the House Committee on Financial Services on Thursday, for the first time since 2019.)

At the Senate hearing, Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and the committee’s chairman, has promised to press the bank chiefs on a range of subjects, sending them a list of questions on topics including the riskiness of their assets, the diversity of their work forces, actions on climate change, pledges on racial equity and more. It could make for a disjointed hearing as senators veer from issue to issue, trying to catch the chief executives off guard or unprepared.

Their prepared testimonies address the committee’s questions in varying depth and detail, while all make the case that their institutions are healthier, safer and more law-abiding since 2008.

  • Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase turned in a nine-page paper urging business, government and society to address inequities and “unleash the extraordinary vibrancy of the American economy.”

  • Jane Fraser of Citigroup prepared 11 pages (and a three-page addendum with data and tables) that note her bank’s approach to cryptocurrencies, saying that it is “focusing resources and efforts to understand changes in the digital asset space.”

  • James Gorman of Morgan Stanley assembled a 20-page report with few frills that includes a short introduction and responses to each question in order.

  • Charles Scharf of Wells Fargo and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs each submitted 15 pages heavy on environmental, social and governance issues.

  • Brian Moynihan of Bank of America had the most to say, with 32 pages that devote a lot of space to the bank’s “responsible growth” principles. “We embrace our dual responsibility to drive both profits and purpose,” he wrote.

  • Stocks drifted between gains and losses on Wednesday. The S&P 500 rose slightly in early trading, while the Stoxx Europe 600 was slightly lower after earlier climbing to a record.

  • Ford rose more than 6 percent in early trading after the company said it would substantially increase spending on electric vehicles, with an goal of having 40 percent of its production all electric by 2030.

  • Marks & Spencer shares rose 7 percent as the retailer said it expected to generate a profit of as much as £350 million this fiscal year, swinging back from a loss of more than £200 million. The company, which sells food, clothing and housewares, has benefited from a recent partnership with Ocado, the online groceries retailer.

  • Fabio Panetta, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, said on Wednesday that “‘we are currently seeing a transitory increase in inflation,” adding his voice to the chorus of central bankers arguing that price increases are temporary and there is no current need to pull back monetary stimulus. Mr. Panetta said that the central bank did not need to reduce the pace of its bond-buying program.

  • “We should not extrapolate from what is happening in the United States,” Mr. Panetta said in the interview published by the central bank. “We don’t expect the same kind of surging demand and tight labor markets that would generate stronger lasting price pressures.”

  • Australians will have some of the best views of the “super blood moon” this week, but passengers on a one-time flight departing from Sydney had an even better one. The Australian airline Qantas operated a three-hour flight on Wednesday (Tuesday evening in the United States) for about 100 passengers to see the moon enter the Earth’s shadow and turn a blood red color during a total lunar eclipse. Tickets went on sale this month for 499 Australian dollars (about $386) for economy class and 1,499 Australian dollars (about $1,162) for business class. The tickets sold out in less than half an hour.

Episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” will be available the next day on Fox Nation, along with other prime-time Fox News shows.Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

Fox News entered the streaming video market in November 2018 with Fox Nation, a digital subscription service that now encompasses hundreds of hours of original programming including political commentary, documentaries and travel specials like “Castles USA,” in which the host Jeanine Pirro tours castles around the country.

Until now, the network had resisted rebroadcasting its marquee prime-time shows on the streaming service. That is set to change next week, in a significant shift in digital strategy for the Rupert Murdoch-owned channel.

Starting June 2, episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “Hannity” and “The Ingraham Angle” will be available on demand on Fox Nation the day after they are shown live on cable. The shift “will add incredible value for subscribers,” Fox Nation’s president, Jason Klarman, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fox News had reasons to initially avoid duplicating its traditional TV programming on Fox Nation. The channel earns significant revenue from cable distributors that pay to carry Fox News. And the network has the largest total weeknight audience in cable news; viewers who switch over to watch the programs on Fox Nation will not be counted by Nielsen.

Other networks, though, have seen benefits from making their cable programs available in digital venues. The shows can attract new subscribers and widen their viewership to the younger audiences that prefer streaming services.

A monthly subscription to Fox Nation costs $6. The network has declined to share its total number of subscribers. Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman of the Fox Corporation, said on a recent earnings call that the first quarter of 2021 had generated Fox Nation’s “highest number of customer acquisitions since launch.”

The District of Columbia said in a lawsuit that Amazon had stopped merchants that use its platform from charging lower prices for the same products elsewhere online.Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The District of Columbia claimed in a complaint on Tuesday that the giant online marketplace is artificially raising prices for products by abusing its monopoly power.

The legal action is believed to be the first government antitrust suit against Amazon in the United States, report The New York Times’s David McCabe, Karen Weise and Cecilia Kang.

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“Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs,” said Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia. “It maximizes its profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor.”

Mr. Racine “has it exactly backwards — sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said in a statement. She added that Amazon reserved the right “not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively.”

Amazon has attracted attention from critics because of the sweeping nature of its business. It operates a dominant web hosting operation and a streaming platform that competes with Netflix and Hulu, and it expanded into brick-and-mortar grocery stores with the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods. But the lawsuit filed by Mr. Racine, a Democrat, concerns the core of its business: the online marketplace for outside merchants that accounts for more than half of the products it sells.

People are turning to social media to broadcast their complaints about India’s handling of the Covid crisis, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party are on the offensive.Credit…Diptendu Dutta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When police officers from India’s elite antiterrorism unit descended on the New Delhi offices of Twitter on Monday night, it sent a clear message: India’s powerful ruling party is becoming increasingly upset with the social media giant because of the perception that it has sided with critics of the government.

With anger growing across the country over India’s stumbling coronavirus crisis response, people are turning to Twitter to broadcast their complaints, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., have struggled to control the narrative.

As a result, top Indian political leaders have applied increasing pressure on Twitter, as well as on Facebook and other social media platforms, The New York Times’s Sameer Yasir and Emily Schmall report. Earlier this month, the government ordered social media platforms, including Twitter, to take down dozens of posts critical of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis.

The police action Monday was mostly symbolic. Twitter’s offices were closed amid India’s devastating coronavirus outbreak. And the police acknowledged they were there not to make any arrests, but only to deliver a notice disputing a warning label that Twitter had assigned to some tweets.

“Regardless of the clumsy manner in which it was conducted, this raid is an escalation in the stifling of domestic criticism in India,” said Gilles Verniers, a professor of political science at Ashoka University near New Delhi.

The police visit was set off by labels that Twitter had applied to tweets posted by senior members of the B.J.P. citing documents they called irrefutable proof that opposition politicians had planned to use India’s coronavirus response to tar Mr. Modi and India’s reputation.

But Twitter undercut that campaign when it labeled the posts “manipulated media.” Indian disinformation watchdog groups had said the documents were forged.

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