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TALKING POINTS

Average long-term US mortgage rate falls for a fifth week

A sign outside a home for sale in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept. 6.Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

MORTGAGES

Rates fall for a fifth week

The average long-term US mortgage rate fell for the fifth week in a row, more good news for prospective homebuyers grappling with an increasingly unaffordable housing market. The latest decline brought the average rate on a 30-year mortgage down to 7.22 percent from 7.29 percent last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. A year ago, the rate averaged 6.49 percent. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage is now at the lowest level it’s been in 10 weeks, when it was 7.19 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

SOCIAL MEDIA

Musk blasts companies that have stopped advertising on X

Elon Musk hit out at brands that have pulled their advertising from X after he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Musk apologized for the post at the DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday but said that the advertisers were attempting to “blackmail” him. His message for those brands was simple: “Don’t advertise” and he used an expletive multiple times to emphasize his point. About 200 big advertisers, including The Walt Disney Co., Apple, and IBM, stopped spending on X after Musk agreed with a post that accused Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” If the freeze continues, it could end up costing the company up to $75 million this quarter, according to internal documents seen by The New York Times. Although Musk acknowledged that an extended boycott could bankrupt X, he suggested that the public would blame the brands rather than him for its collapse. — NEW YORK TIMES

COFFEE

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Starbucks to pause mobile orders when baristas are overwhelmed

Starbucks is making it easier for employees to pause mobile orders in response to staffing concerns — an issue that’s contributed to repeated protests by unionized baristas. In January, the coffee chain will roll out changes to an app on its store iPads, adding a “new feature” that shift supervisors and managers can use to halt mobile orders, according to an internal update viewed by Bloomberg News. Reasons for a halt include higher-than-expected volume, or when employee absences are “negatively impacting the Starbucks Experience,” according to the document. When a store disables mobile orders, customers on the app are informed that the option isn’t available there. Mobile ordering has become an important part of Starbucks’ business, accounting for 27 percent of US sales in its most recent quarter. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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Signage outside Meta headquarters. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

SOCIAL MEDIA

Meta sues the FTC over privacy settlement

Meta Platforms Inc. sued the US Federal Trade Commission claiming its in-house trials violate the Constitution and asked a court to immediately halt the agency’s bid to change a 2020 privacy settlement. The social networking giant filed the suit in Washington federal court seeking a halt to FTC proceedings related to Meta’s 2020 privacy pact. It was the second attempt by the parent company of Facebook and Instagram to block the proceeding in court. Other regulators are facing challenges to their constitutionality. On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could potentially strip the Securities and Exchange Commission of its ability to go before in-house judges to seek multimillion-dollar penalties. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

LABOR

UK rail workers accept deal after 18 months of periodic strikes

Members of a UK rail union voted to accept a deal to end a dispute over pay and conditions — at least until spring next year — bringing some relief to commuters who have faced disruption for more than 18 months. Rail, Maritime and Transport Union General Secretary Mick Lynch said members had overwhelmingly accepted an unconditional pay offer, along with a guarantee of no compulsory layoffs until the end of 2024. The RMT’s announcement is a further sign that a long period of industrial action across multiple sectors could be drawing to a close, in a boost for Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a general election expected next year. On Monday, the government struck a proposed pay deal with doctors, paving the way for an end to strikes that have worsened health service waiting times. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ELECTRIC VEHICLES

BMW and Mercedes team up on charging stations in China

BMW and Mercedes will cooperate on a fast-charging network for EVs in China with a plan to open at least 1,000 stations by 2026, a move that will still leave the two luxury-car makers trailing Tesla. First sites will open next year in regions with a high electric-vehicle uptake via a joint venture between the Chinese subsidiaries of both German carmakers, BMW said Thursday. The move is catching up to Tesla’s more than 1,600 existing charging locations in China. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

The headquarters of The Walt Disney Co. in Burbank, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2020. Beth Coller/NYT

ENTERTAINMENT

Disney names new directors in advance of proxy fight

Walt Disney Co. appointed Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman and veteran media executive Jeremy Darroch to its board of directors ahead of an expected proxy fight. Darroch’s appointment will be effective Jan. 9, while Gorman’s will take effect on Feb. 5, Disney said Wednesday in a statement. Billionaire Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management are planning their own nominees to the board next year. Trian has amassed a $2.66 billion stake in Disney that includes shares pledged by Ike Perlmutter, the former chairman of Marvel Entertainment who was fired by Disney after lobbying for Peltz to join the board. Earlier this month, ValueAct Capital Management became the second activist investor to amass a stake in Disney. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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INTERNATIONAL

Inflation dropped in Europe

Europeans again saw some relief as inflation dropped more than expected to 2.4 percent in November, the lowest in more than two years, as plummeting energy costs have eased a cost-of-living crisis but higher interest rates squeeze the economy’s ability to grow. Inflation for the 20 countries using the euro currency fell from an annual 2.9 percent in October, according to numbers released Thursday by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency. It’s a far cry from the peak of 10.6 percent in October 2022 as an energy crisis left Europe’s households and businesses struggling to make ends meet. The new figure is close to the European Central Bank’s inflation target of 2 percent following a rapid series of interest rate hikes dating to summer 2022. But the tradeoff is stalled economic growth. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

LABOR

Coke better than Pepsi in offering career mobility

What’s the difference between Coke and Pepsi? For job seekers: Coca-Cola Co. offers the best career mobility out of nearly 400 big employers, according to a new five-year analysis of 4.7 million workers. Rival PepsiCo Inc. came in 19th on that same list. The American Opportunity Index — a product of Harvard Business School, the Schultz Family Foundation, and Burning Glass Institute, a labor-focused nonprofit — measured how millions of workers fared at companies by looking at hiring, pay, and promotions, particularly among entry-level and lower-skilled workers. By tracking their trajectories, the analysis determined which companies pay better wages for workers in similar roles or promote their people most equitably. Also in the top 10 were jelly maker JM Smucker Co., tech behemoth Meta Platforms Inc., and retailer Costco. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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