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MassMutual gives $100,000 to sponsor FinTech Sandbox


MassMutual gives $100,000 to sponsor FinTech Sandbox

MassMutual Life Insurance Co. has become the latest big financial company to kick in $100,000 a year to sponsor the FinTech Sandbox and the local nonprofit’s signature event, Boston FinTech Week, which is in the works for the second half of 2021. Mike Fanning, the head of MassMutual’s US operations, will also join FinTech Sandbox’s advisory board. Fanning said Roger Crandall, the CEO of Springfield-based MassMutual, has made it clear that advances in financial technology will be crucial to the life insurer’s long-term success. Crandall has stressed the importance of supporting a startup culture in the Boston area that can encourage young fintech firms to flourish, firms that might eventually become business partners with MassMutual, or maybe even acquisition targets. Other major sponsors of FinTech Sandbox include: Ernst & Young, Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton, State Street, and Goodwin Procter. — JON CHESTO



Target latest retailer to see sales boom during pandemic

Target is the latest big US retailer to show that it’s prospering during the pandemic. The Minneapolis company reported Wednesday that its online sales surged 155 percent in the three months that ended Oct. 31. Sales at its stores opened for a least a year rose 10 percent. Customer traffic rose 4.5 percent and average dollars spent rose nearly 16 percent. It joined Walmart and Home Depot in reporting strong sales for the retailers’ fiscal third quarter as shoppers consolidate their trips and focus on home-related activities. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Norwegian Air seeking bankruptcy protection in Ireland

Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle said Wednesday it is seeking restructuring and bankruptcy protection in Ireland, where its fleet is held, saying the decision was “in the interest of its stakeholders. Like other airlines, its fleet is now mostly grounded as the pandemic has caused a near-total halt to global travel. Earlier this month, the Oslo-based company said it was facing a “very uncertain” future after the Norwegian government turned down its request for additional financial support. The government said that the airline had been struggling financially even before the pandemic and that aid should be targeted first at healthy businesses. After that, Norwegian announced it had to lay off another 1,600 staff and ground 15 of the 21 planes it had been flying with. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Buyers want to patronize businesses that reflect their values

Polarization in the United States is reaching the retail world, with three quarters of consumers now saying they plan to shop at businesses whose values line up with their own, a study from Mastercard SpendingPulse shows. Consumers say they will prefer to spend at local establishments and those owned by minorities and women, according to the survey. And just over half of those interviewed said they’d prefer no gift at all over receiving one from a retailer whose views differ from their own. The study indicates that rapid change in shopping habits, fueled in part by this year’s global pandemic and unrest related to racial inequality, have staying power. While its not unusual for younger generations of consumers to make a political statement with their shopping list, that trend is now widening to new demographics, according to Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard and former chief executive officer of Saks Inc. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


High-end sales plunge, even with uptick in China

Sales of luxury apparel, jewelry, and beauty products are set to slide by nearly a quarter this year as the pandemic wipes out more than six years of growth, according to a study released Wednesday by the consultancy Bain. Still, the drop is narrower than the 35 percent collapse forecast in the spring, thanks largely to a market recovery in China, which is generating nearly a third of all sales. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Volume up only slightly in third quarter at Moller-Maersk

The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, said Wednesday that global container volumes increased by around 1 percent in the third quarter, a faster rebound than expected earlier in the year. However, global demand for containers is expected to contract by 4-5 percent this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said its third quarter revenue decreased by 1.4 percent to $9.9 billion while its profit rose to $947 million from $520 million during the same period a year earlier. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Sales of new versions of PlayStation and Xbox fall short in Japan

Sales of new gaming consoles fell short of their predecessors during their first week in Japan, suggesting persistent supply bottlenecks will hamper the debut of two of this holiday season’s most hotly anticipated gadgets. Sony sold 118,085 PlayStation 5 consoles from its debut on Nov. 12 to Nov. 15, roughly a third of the PS4′s performance over launch weekend, Famitsu estimated. Microsoft tallied 20,534 units of its Xbox Series X and S during the six days from its start on Nov. 10, also shy of the 23,562 that the Xbox One managed during its first few days, the research house said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Home building rose nearly 5 percent in October

Home construction rose 4.9 percent in October as home building remains as one of the bright spots of the economy. The increase pushed home construction to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million homes and apartments and followed a more modest gain of 1.9 percent in September. Building permits, a good barometer of future activity, remained at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.55 million annualized units, effectively unchanged from September. The figure remains up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, showing how strong the housing market was over the summer despite the pandemic. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Bitcoin pushes aside gold as a hedge

Bitcoin is seizing the spotlight from gold as a hedge against risks such as further dollar weakness or a pick-up in inflation. The cryptocurrency’s almost 150 percent jump in 2020 puts the digital coin’s price relative to gold at the highest in almost three years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The climb comes as investors search for portfolio buffers amid predictions the dollar could drop as much as 20 percent next year in the economic recovery from the pandemic. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Embattled PG&E gets its third CEO in two years

California’s largest utility, PG&E Corp., named Patricia K. Poppe as its new chief executive officer to lead the energy giant as it struggles to regain public trust after its equipment sparked deadly wildfires that drove the company into bankruptcy last year. Poppe, who currently runs Michigan-based CMS Energy Corp., will be PG&E’s third CEO in the past two years. The stakes are high for the century-old utility. It pleaded guilty in June to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for its role in starting the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018. Regulators have put in place oversight measures that could include a state takeover if the company causes another catastrophic blaze as drought and extreme weather have made California increasingly prone to wildfires. — BLOOMBERG NEWS