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Friday's Fast Five: Week of 1.5

Fed officials in December saw rate cuts likely, but path highly uncertain, minutes show (CNBC): At the meeting, the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee agreed to hold its benchmark rate steady in a range between 5.25% and 5.5%. Members indicated they expect three quarter-percentage point cuts by the end of 2024. However, the meeting summary noted a high level of uncertainty over how, or if, that will happen.

Can This CEO Save a Sneaker That Lost Its Cool? (The Wall Street Journal): Bracken Darrell is trying to engineer a turnaround at Vans’s parent company. Step one was figuring out where it went wrong. The 60-year-old Darrell, who joined VF in July, is trying to resuscitate the $11.6 billion owner of brands that also include the North Face and Timberland. He doesn’t have much time. Activist investors are urging him to cut costs and jettison brands.

SpaceX Launches First Cell Service Satellites With T-Mobile (Bloomberg): Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its first six satellites capable of offering mobile phone service as the company races to bring more connectivity to remote areas. Operating like a cell tower in space, the Starlink satellites will work with users’ existing phones, rather than using specialized equipment, to enable text messaging in areas where traditional cell signals are weak or nonexistent.

Retailers have a crime problem. It’s in the numbers. (Retail Dive): Any in-depth research into retail theft reveals a definite problem. Namely, that it’s unclear how much of a problem it is or how much it’s rising, if it’s worsening at all. That hasn’t stopped the industry, along with a few retail chains, from emphasizing it in research reports, earnings calls and other forums.

These Tesla Wannabes Are Running Out of Road (The Wall Street Journal): Electric-vehicle startups were flying high just a few years ago. Now many are focused on survival. At least 18 EV and battery startups that went public in recent years were at risk of running out of cash by the end of 2024 as of their most recent filings, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.