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National Grid offering grants to small businesses struggling with rising energy bills

A view of the National Grid site in Dorchester on July 5, 2017.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff


National Grid offering grants to small businesses struggling with rising energy bills

National Grid is distributing $1 million worth of grants to small businesses in Massachusetts to help them cope with rising electric and gas bills this winter. The utility is working with the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce by providing $250,000 to each group to distribute to small-business members in need of financial assistance. Each group will distribute $1,000 grants to 250 members, reaching a total of 1,000 small businesses across the state. To be eligible, a small business needs to be a customer of National Grid electrical service or natural gas service. This is the first time the British company has given away grants to businesses like this. National Grid also recently gave $1 million to three United Ways in the state as well as the Good Neighbor Energy Fund for a parallel program to help residential customers. — JON CHESTO



Amazon warehouse workers go on strike in Britain

LONDON — Amazon warehouse workers went on strike for the first time in Britain on Wednesday because of a dispute over pay and working conditions, adding to a wave of industrial labor action across the country fueled by the soaring cost of living. Union members voted to walk off the job for one day at the e-commerce giant’s fulfillment center in Coventry, a city about 100 miles northwest of London near Birmingham. Amanda Gearing, a senior organizer with the GMB union, said Amazon staff who worked through tough conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic are just “trying to get decent pay.” Another big issue is performance targets set by an algorithm that piles extra pressure on workers, she said. Amazon, which operates 30 fulfillment centers in the United Kingdom, said 2,000 workers are employed at the Coventry facility. The union says 98 percent of those who took part in the vote decided to strike, and Amazon said that amounts to only 178 workers. — Associated Press



Boeing loses money due to higher costs, supply chain snags

Boeing said Wednesday it lost $663 million in the fourth quarter as rising production costs and supply-chain problems offset rising revenue. It was another disappointing quarter for the aerospace giant, which has yet to recover from fatal crashes involving two of its 737 Max jets and a pandemic that depressed airline demand for new planes until recently. Boeing, based in Arlington, Va., has seen deliveries rise since regulators approved the 737 Max to fly again in late 2021 and after the company satisfied regulators that it fixed production problems on another plane, the larger 787 Dreamliner. — Associated Press

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives in the German parliament Bundestag to answer questions of lawmakers in Berlin on Jan. 25, 2023. Markus Schreiber/Associated Press


German economy expected to grow this year, albeit slightly

FRANKFURT, Germany — The German government on Wednesday said it expects to eke out economic growth this year instead of a decline as Europe’s largest economy manages its energy divorce from Russia and shells out support for consumers and businesses hit by higher energy costs. The outlook improved to an 0.2 percent expansion from a 0.4 percent contraction expected in October, when Germany feared that this winter it would run out of natural gas used to power factories, generate electricity, and heat homes. Warmer-than-usual weather helped, as did a scramble to line up additional supplies of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, that comes by ship instead of pipeline from Russia. — Associated Press



EasyJet stock jumps, boosted by summer bookings

EasyJet shares surged the most since March after the carrier said strong bookings continued into the second quarter and the crucial summer months, underscoring how the aviation industry is staging a comeback from the pandemic despite persistent cost-of-living concerns among consumers. In the first quarter, the airline flew 20.2 million seats, and EasyJet projected the figure will reach 38 million in the first half and rise to 56 million in the second half of their fiscal year, which runs through September. — Bloomberg News


Powering out of the pandemic with Red Bull

Red Bull’s revenue surged by almost a quarter in 2022 as consumers looked to energize themselves after the end of coronavirus lockdowns. The Austria-based company sold 11.6 billion cans of its energy drink, raising revenue by 24 percent to 9.68 billion euros ($10.53 billion), according to selected performance metrics published on its website. Turnover and operating profit reached record levels in a year marked by the death of its founder, Dietrich Mateschitz. — Bloomberg News


Twitter sued in Germany over antisemitic content

Twitter was hit by a lawsuit in Germany by an anti-hate speech organization and a European group of Jewish students in a bid to force the platform to remove antisemitic content. HateAid and the European Union of Jewish Students filed the suit against Twitter to require the platform to clarify basic obligations when moderating criminal content, according to a statement on Wednesday. The suit, which was filed in a Berlin court, refers to six antisemitic posts that were not deleted despite being reported. In one example, the claimants argue, a report of a post denying the Holocaust was explicitly rejected. In Germany, holocaust denial is a criminal offense. — Bloomberg News


A Microsoft store in New York on Jan. 20, 2023. Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg


Outage hits Microsoft video conferencing tools

Microsoft restored access to its email and video conferencing tools Wednesday after thousands of users were unable to connect to the services for hours. The outage, which affected Microsoft 365 products including Outlook and Microsoft Teams, began shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time. The company said on Twitter around 5 a.m. Eastern time that it had “isolated the problem to a networking configuration issue.” At 7:45 a.m., the company said all of its services were available. The programs are crucial for many businesses, who were temporarily left without key communication services. The company did not say how many users were affected, but thousands of people reported outages, with some people grousing on social media. — New York Times


Justin Bieber sells some music rights

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has struck a deal to put his music under the ownership of Hipgnosis Song Management, an investment entity backed by Blackstone Inc. Hipgnosis bought Bieber’s share of publishing copyrights, master recordings, and neighboring rights for his entire back catalog, which includes more than 290 titles released before the end of 2021, Hipgnosis said in a statement Tuesday. Universal Music Group continues to own rights to the original recorded music catalog, according to a person familiar with the agreement. Hipgnosis didn’t provide financial details. Representatives for Bieber didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Bloomberg reported in December that Bieber’s stake could fetch about $200 million. — Bloomberg News



Berlin Airport shut when ground staff strike

BERLIN — Berlin Airport canceled all its flights Wednesday after ground staff went on strike to press their demands for higher pay. The walk-out affected about 300 flights to and from Germany’s capital. Labor union Verdi said its members were seeking a raise of 500 euros ($544) per month. German news agency dpa reported that employers have offered staff a one-off payment of 2,000 euros.Germany experienced its highest annual inflation in more than 70 years last year. — Associated Press