Amazon and Visa reach payment agreement

Amazon.com has agreed to accept cards from Visa on its global network, settling a dispute that threatened to damage the financial giant’s business and disrupt e-commerce payments.

The deal, announced by the two companies, resolves a dispute that at one point prompted Amazon to consider a ban on UK-issued Visa credit cards.

The retailer said it will no longer charge additional fees to customers who use Visa cards on its site in Singapore and Australia and will not deactivate Visa credit cards from amazon.co.uk.

“We recently entered into a global agreement with Visa that allows all customers to continue to use their Visa credit cards in our stores,” a company spokesperson said by email. “Amazon remains committed to providing customers with a convenient and choice checkout experience.”

Amazon had considered moving its popular co-branded credit card to Mastercard Inc., Bloomberg News reported.

The Amazon card is one of the biggest co-branded wallets in the industry, and the company used the talks to renew the deal to get better terms from Visa, according to people familiar with the matter.

Retailers have long been reluctant to pay the fees they pay every time a consumer swipes a card at checkout.

While that might be pennies per purchase, it adds up: Merchants spent $110 billion on card processing fees in 2020 alone.

For larger banks and merchants, Visa often strikes special pricing deals to persuade them to send more volume through its network.

The company set aside $8.4 billion in fiscal 2021 for such incentives, up 26% from a year earlier.

Walmart beats quarterly profit forecast

NEW YORK – Walmart braced on rising inflation, a strained global supply chain and soaring COVID-19 sick leave costs among its employees to deliver strong fourth-quarter results on Thursday.

The nation’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, also presented an upbeat outlook for this year on Thursday and increased its dividend.

The shares were up more than 2% in late morning trading.

Walmart is the first major retailer to release its fourth-quarter budget results, which include the critical holiday shopping season, and is considered a major barometer of spending given its size, so analysts are carefully analyzing the data.

Walmart executives said its customers were still in good financial shape and they didn’t see any major shifts in consumer behaviors, such as falling back on cheaper labels, but they were paying close attention. at higher prices.

He also expects supply chain issues to ease in the coming months.Walmart’s report came a day after the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales jumped 3.8% from December to January.

And although inflation – which hit its highest level in four decades in the United States – helped push that figure higher, most of January’s gain reflected more buying, not higher prices. .

Like other retailers, Walmart faces rising costs for everything from labor to shipping as supply chain safeguards hit businesses around the world over the holidays. As the country’s largest food seller, it is also more vulnerable to rising food prices.

This last holiday quarter also offered an additional challenge: a contagious new variant, omicron, which forced many workers to take sick leave, driving up costs for companies needing to hire more workers beyond this. which was intended to fill this void.

In fact, Walmart said last quarter’s spike in COVID furloughs was higher than anything it’s seen in 2021 or 2020.

But Walmart used its clout to overcome big challenges by chartering ships for its goods as it entered the holiday shipping slump.

As for managing inflation, she said she used years of expertise in monitoring soaring prices in other parts of the world like Mexico and parts of South America where she does business.

Saudi Arabia refuses to pump more oil

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Saudi Arabia signals it is unwilling to pump more oil and will not push to change a deal with Russia and other producers that have capped oil production levels.

That worries Washington as gasoline prices rise and tensions with Russia over Ukraine fuel market uncertainty.

The Biden administration dispatched Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s Middle East coordinator, and State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein to Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss a range of issues. , the main one being the ongoing war in Yemen and global energy supply.

Asked by reporters in Washington whether U.S. officials were also urging Saudi Arabia to pump in more crude to mitigate high oil prices, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she doesn’t. had no more details about the meeting.

A White House official said the two US officials did not ask the Saudis to increase oil production during their meetings in Riyadh. The person insisted on anonymity to discuss the meetings and said the conversation focused on regional issues and the impacts of energy security on the global economy.

Two Saudi officials told The Associated Press that the Saudi energy minister has informed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, of ​​the kingdom’s commitment to the group’s current roadmap of monthly increases. cautious.

They spoke anonymously because they weren’t allowed to brief reporters.

King Salman also said so during a call last week with President Joe Biden.

According to a Saudi reading of the appeal, the king stressed “the importance of maintaining the agreement” that is in place between OPEC, the Saudi-led oil cartel, and Russia.

The Saudi-Russian-led alliance known as OPEC+ is calling for a gradual increase in oil production as the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, but geopolitical events are rapidly changing and dragging market volatility.

Rising pump prices pose a threat to Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.

Biden has warned that gas prices could rise even more if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.

Benchmark crude is trading at around $95 a barrel, its highest level in eight years. AAA says the current US national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is about $3.50 – a 40% increase from its average of $2.50 this time last year.

From thread reports

At a CNN forum in October, Biden said prices were rising due to “OPEC’s withheld supply.”

He said that although there are a lot of negotiations going on over the cost of gas, “there are a lot of people from the Middle East who want to talk to me.”

About Matthew R. Dailey

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