Tencent wins government approval for mobile games

ENERGY

Finland gets floating LNG terminal

Finland’s first floating liquefied natural gas terminal was moored Wednesday at the southern port of Inkoo where it will supply gas to the Nordic country that was cut off from Russian gas imports earlier this year amid the war in Ukraine. The massive 291-meter-long and 43-meter-wide offshore support vessel Exemplar, which sailed to the Baltic Sea from Spain earlier in December, has a capacity of 68,000 tons of LNG and is scheduled to be operational from the beginning of 2023. FSRU Exemplar, owned by the US company Excelerate Energy Inc., will ensure future availability of gas in Finland, replacing supplies earlier imported from Russia, Finland’s state-owned Gasgrid Finland said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

FAST FOOD

KFC closing South African stores because of power cuts

KFC is temporarily closing some of its fried chicken outlets in South Africa due to power cuts imposed by state electricity provider Eskom Holdings. The Yum! Brands Inc. chain made the decision after the number of blackout days passed 200 this year, a record. Eskom supplies more than 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity and has implemented nationwide power cuts, known locally as load shedding, to prevent the grid from total collapse. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (center left) attends an inauguration ceremony of the metro rail service in Dhaka on December 28, 2022. SAZZAD HOSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

INTERNATIONAL

Bangladesh gets its first metro rail service

Bangladesh launched its first metro rail service, mostly funded by Japan, in the densely populated capital on Wednesday amid enthusiasm that the South Asian country’s development bonanza would continue with both domestic and overseas funds. The line is expected to carry 60,000 people every hour when it is fully operational, according to project documents. Dhaka is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with over 20 million people who struggle to commute on clogged roads. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

INTERNATIONAL

Keeping up with US law firms will be costly for UK firms

London’s biggest law firms paid generously to secure the brightest young recruits they could this year. Meeting those salary pledges next year will be a lot tougher with revenues from deal making expected to slow dramatically. Many of the UK’s top law firms raised salaries for newly qualified lawyers to as much as £100,000 ($120,600) this year to narrow the gap with top US firms in London. But the value of initial public offerings in the UK capital, a key source of cash for law firms that advise on these deals, fell in the first half of 2022 to the lowest since 2008. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

REAL ESTATE

Pending home sales fell again in November

US pending home sales fell for a sixth month in November to the second-lowest on record as higher borrowing costs and an uncertain economic outlook kept many potential buyers out of the market. The National Association of Realtors index of contract signings to purchase previously owned homes decreased 4 percent last month to 73.9, the lowest outside of the pandemic in data back to 2001, according to a release Wednesday. The drop was worse than all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

The US flag flies above the Starbucks mermaid logo, Monday, April 26, 2021, at the coffee company’s corporate headquarters in Seattle. Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

LABOR

Starbucks accused of failing to negotiate with 21 unionized stores on the West Coast

Starbucks has illegally refused to negotiate at 21 recently unionized cafes in Washington state and Oregon, US labor board prosecutors alleged in a complaint. In a Tuesday filing on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel, the agency’s Seattle regional director wrote that Starbucks ”has been failing and refusing to bargain collectively” in cities including Portland and Seattle, the coffee giant’s hometown. Regional directors across the country have issued dozens of complaints accusing Starbucks of deploying illegal tactics such as threats and retaliation in an effort to defeat the union, Starbucks Workers United. The new complaint is the first in which agency prosecutors accuse Starbucks of not bargaining fairly at multiple stores. The union has filed other still-pending cases around the country accusing the company of failing to bargain fairly. In an e-mailed statement, Starbucks said it will have shown up for more than 75 bargaining sessions at US stores by the end of the year. ”We have come to the table time after time prepared to bargain in good faith, and continue to urge Workers United to uphold their promises to our partners by moving the bargaining process forward,” spokesperson Rachel Wall said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

ENERGY

Exxon Mobil sues over EU windfall tax

Exxon Mobil Corp. is suing the European Union in a push to eliminate a new windfall tax against oil groups, arguing that the bloc does not have legal authority to impose the levy. The lawsuit is a major response to the tax from the oil industry that has reaped record profits this year as western governments have sought to bring down skyrocketing consumer energy bills following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The action could jeopardize the tax, which would raise billions to bring down consumer energy costs. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

English tea cup industry is teetering due to high energy costs

Britain’s iconic ceramics industry is slashing production and cutting jobs as surging energy bills push the sector in a key English town to the brink of collapse. Some companies have seen a 10-fold surge in energy bills, crippling a major UK industry that produces goods from sought-after teacups to bricks, aerospace parts, and artificial hip joints. The ceramics industry, with annual sales of around £1.6 billion, has been operating mostly out of the city of Stoke-on-Trent for about 300 years. H&E Smith, a tile supplier to the London Underground that this year won the largest order in its century-old history from the Sydney Metro, saw a 53 percent surge in its energy bill for October compared with last year, even though it says it used less. Fiskars Group is cutting output by about 80 percent at the factory that makes the popular Wedgwood pottery brand and reducing hours for its employees through to Jan. 9. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

BOOKS

Romance is flying off of bookshelves

Love conquers all, at least on bookstore shelves. Demand for romance novels is booming in the United States, with sales of print copies surging 51 percent to 32.3 million this year through early December, according to NPD Group. The genre is a bright spot for a publishing industry that is on pace to post its first annual decline in units sold in at least five years. The category’s popularity surged during the pandemic as Americans sought escapism and feel-good stories. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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