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Talking Points

Mass. now eighth in Department of Defense spending

DEFENSE SPENDING

Mass. now eighth in Department of Defense spending

Massachusetts has moved up the ranks of states with heavy Department of Defense spending — in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts is now ranked eighth, with $18.6 billion in total defense spending in the 2020 fiscal year, up from 10th in 2019, according to a newly release report from the defense agency. Massachusetts is narrowing the gap with Connecticut, which was the highest New England state on the list, in sixth place with $23.6 billion in defense spending. The big reason for Massachusetts’ ascension: Cambridge-based Moderna, and its COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna edged out General Dynamics as the state’s third busiest defense contractor in fiscal 2020, but was behind Raytheon and General Electric. “The Department of Defense is and has always been a major player for biotech and biomedical companies,” said Joseph Donovan, a Boston-based lobbyist with law firm Nelson Mullins who specializes in military work. “COVID-19 accelerated this trend.” — JON CHESTO


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GAS

Prices at the pump at a nine-year high

If rising costs for food weren’t enough for Americans celebrating Thanksgiving this year, wait until you hit the road. The national average for unleaded gasoline is $3.40 a gallon, the highest level heading into the holiday weekend since 2012, according to AAA. Still, the group predicts that 48.3 million people will travel to their destination by car, up 8 percent from last year, but down 3 percent from 2019. An additional 4.2 million travelers are forecast to go by air. On Tuesday, President Biden announced the release of 50 million barrels of crude from the strategic petroleum reserve in attempt to tame prices. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

ECONOMY

Things are slowing down

WASHINGTON — The US economy slowed to a modest annual rate of 2.1 percent in the October-December quarter, slightly better than first reported. But economists are predicting a solid rebound in the current quarter as long as rising inflation and a recent uptick in COVID cases do not derail activity. The increase in the gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, was up from an initial estimate of 2 percent for the third quarter. But the revision was still well below the solid gains of 6.3 percent in the first quarter this year and 6.7 percent in the second quarter. The weak summer performance reflected a big slowdown in consumer spending as a spike in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant caused consumers to grow more cautious and snarled supply chains made items such as new cars hard to get and also contributed to a burst of inflation to levels not seen in three decades. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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FARM EQUIPMENT

Deere expects a banner year, even with the strike

Deere & Co.’s financial outlook for the next year signals that global supply chain delays and higher labor costs following a monthlong strike in the US won’t significantly dent profits at the world’s largest farm equipment maker. Deere expects record net income for fiscal 2022 of between $6.5 billion and $7 billion, compared to the average estimate of $6.66 billion by 17 analysts, the Moline, Illinois-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Deere’s upbeat outlook comes despite the work stoppage that slowed Deere’s factory output of equipment ranging from tractors and combines to sprayers and more in the US during the busiest farming season of the year. Workers initially rejected two labor contracts that left customers waiting weeks for parts and components that normally take a couple days to deliver, before finally approving a third deal a week ago. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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UTILITIES

Southern California homes could see power cuts over the holiday

Utilities in Southern California may cut power to almost 200,000 homes and businesses over Thanksgiving to prevent live wires from sparking blazes as high winds sweep the drought-stricken region creating critical fire conditions. Almost 152,000 customers of Edison International’s Southern California Edison face outages in six Southern California counties, including Los Angeles and Orange, if conditions get too dangerous, according to its website. Further south, San Diego Gas & Electric may cut off 43,333 customers. Both numbers are an increase from warnings on Tuesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNET

TikTok as a full-time job looks good to some Europeans

Quit a day job to do TikTok full time? Why not, say some Europeans. About one in 10 are considering leaving their main job in the next six months and instead earning money from social media, e-commerce, or trading platforms, according to a Morgan Stanley poll of 12,500 people. One in three of the Europeans surveyed said they make some money by selling things online, creating content on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, or trading non-fungible tokens. The trend was predominantly among people holding white-collar jobs in information technology, finance, engineering, or manufacturing. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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AUTOMOTIVE

Nikola’s indicted founder sells more stock

Nikola’s founder sold his biggest batch of shares since the US charged him with securities fraud, bringing the total he’s disposed since August to $284 million. Trevor Milton offloaded 11.7 million shares worth about $131 million in a series of transactions that ended Tuesday, according to a regulatory filing. Nikola’s former executive chairman sold about $153 million of stock in two rounds of disposals in August, weeks after pleading not guilty to charges he misled investors. Milton allegedly made false and misleading statements regarding almost all aspects of Nikola’s business, according to a criminal indictment unsealed in July. Federal prosecutors took issue with his claims about the startup’s first semi-truck prototype, which was inoperable; a battery-electric and hydrogen-powered pickup that amounted to little more than design sketches; and Nikola’s hydrogen production capabilities, battery-development work and customer orders. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

GAMING

PlayStation5 hottest gift this season — again

On Tuesday morning, Amazon began selling some PlayStation 5s. They were gone within a few minutes — and that was slower than usual. In a rare, maybe unprecedented run of popularity, the latest version of Sony’s gaming console is poised to be the hottest holiday gift for consecutive Christmases. The streak has been fueled in part by how hard it is to find: Since its release in November of 2020, a shortage of microchips and supply-chain disruptions have constrained production. For someone trying to buy a PS5 at retail, the Amazon sellout is a familiar scene. The evolution of computer programs — often called bots — to quickly buy goods online has been a boon for resellers. A year after its debut, one model of the PS5 is still selling for $775 on resale site StockX — more than 90 percent above its retail price. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ELECTRIC VEHICLES

BlackRock and automakers invest in vehicle charging venture

BlackRock is joining automakers including BMW, Volkswagen, and Ford as shareholders in electric-car charging consortium Ionity GmbH, contributing to a 700 million-euro ($787 million) investment in the venture. The joint outlay will more than quadruple Ionity’s high-power charging points in Europe to at least 7,000 by 2025, the group said in a statement Wednesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS