Stock Market Live Updates: Stocks Rise After Slide in Bond Yields
Stock Market Live Updates: Stocks Rise After Slide in Bond Yields
When BuzzFeed announced last year that it would buy HuffPost, it was expected that cost-cutting would follow the completion of the deal. On Tuesday, less than a month after the acquisition went through, BuzzFeed laid off 47 workers at HuffPost and closed the publication’s Canadian edition.
At a virtual company meeting, BuzzFeed’s chief executive, Jonah Peretti, said the layoffs were meant to stem losses at HuffPost. HuffPost, which was previously owned by Verizon Media, lost more than $20 million last year and was on track to lose the same amount this year, Mr. Peretti told the staff according to an account of the meeting provided by BuzzFeed.
Employees were given a password to enter the meeting — “spr!ngisH3r3,” a variation on the phrase “spring is here.” The staff members were then informed that if they did not receive an email by 1 p.m., their jobs were safe. The website Defector first reported on the password and other details of the meeting, which were confirmed by two people who attended the meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. A BuzzFeed spokesman told The New York Times that the company regretted the password’s tone.
The HuffPost Union, which is affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East, said in a statement that the layoffs had affected 33 of its members, nearly a third of the local union. “We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home,” the union said in a statement.
As part of the cutbacks, BuzzFeed closed HuffPost Canada and announced plans to decrease the size of its operations in Australia and Britain, the BuzzFeed spokesman said. At the end of the austerity measures, HuffPost would still have a larger newsroom than BuzzFeed News, the spokesman added.
In the meeting, Mr. Peretti said that HuffPost’s executive editor, Hillary Frey, and its international executive editor, Louise Roug, had decided to leave the company. HuffPost has been without an editor in chief since Lydia Polgreen departed a year ago to become the head of content at Gimlet Media, a Spotify-owned podcasting company. Mr. Peretti said he expected to announce Ms. Polgreen’s successor in the coming weeks.
Whoever takes the job will report to Mark Schoofs, BuzzFeed News’s editor in chief. At the meeting, Mr. Peretti reiterated that BuzzFeed and HuffPost would remain distinct from each other, with separate editorial staffs.
Disneyland, which has been closed for a year, will reopen in late April.
Bob Chapek, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, announced the time frame on Tuesday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting but did not give a specific date.
California officials announced on Friday that theme parks in the state could reopen on a limited basis as soon as April 1. Eligibility, however, will depend on coronavirus transmission statistics in individual counties.
For instance, theme parks in counties where the virus threat remains the most severe (in the purple tier under the state’s system) must remain closed. But parks in areas where the threat of infection has eased somewhat (red tier) will be allowed to reopen at 15 percent capacity. Even less threat (orange tier) will allow for 25 percent capacity, ultimately rising to 35 percent for the lowest threat (yellow).
California will restrict attendance to in-state visitors. Regulators will also restrict indoor dining. Some indoor rides may be required to remain closed.
Disneyland is in Orange County, which is in the purple tier. But if coronavirus cases continue to decline in Southern California at the current pace, the county could fall within the orange tier by late April. The Walt Disney Company said last year that reopening a park at less than 25 percent capacity would not make economic sense.
Before the pandemic, roughly 32,000 people worked at the 486-acre Disneyland Resort, which includes two separately ticketed theme parks, three Disney-owned hotels and an outdoor shopping mall. Some furloughed employees have already returned; the Downtown Disney retail district, for instance, reopened over the summer. Mr. Chapek said that roughly 10,000 additional furloughed employees would be called back for the April limited reopening of rides and hotels.
By the time Disneyland reopens, it will be the last of the company’s six theme park resorts to come back online. (The others are in Orlando, Fla.; Paris; Hong Kong; Tokyo; and Shanghai.) Mr. Chapek said the still-closed Disney Cruise Line may have “limited” sailings by the fall.
In other shareholder meeting news, Disney disclosed that its streaming service, Disney+, now has more than 100 million paying subscribers worldwide. And Robert A. Iger, who passed the chief executive baton to Mr. Chapek last year and transitioned to an executive chairman role, reiterated his intention to leave the company at the end of December.
The House was poised on Tuesday to approve the most significant expansion of labor rights since the New Deal, advancing a bill that would neutralize “right to work” laws in 27 states and tilt the negotiating table back toward workers trying to unionize after years of eroding clout.
The bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, would amend decades-old labor law to give workers seeking to form a union new protections from retribution or firing, grant government regulators additional means to punish employers who violate workers’ rights and outlaw mandatory meetings that employers often rely on to try to quash an organizing drive.
It would also make it harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors, paving the way for a potentially dramatic expansion in the pool of workers eligible to unionize.
The measure was all but certain to run into a brick wall of opposition in the Senate, where 60 votes would be needed to advance it and Republicans are unanimously opposed.
Democrats, led by President Biden, have embraced the bill as a centerpiece of their agenda, seeking to elevate labor rights as an answer to economic and racial inequality and woo back white working-class voters who abandoned the party for former President Donald J. Trump. It comes as Mr. Biden, an outspoken defender of unions, has already taken an unusually active stance to wade into a battle over unionization at Amazon.
“As America works to recover from the devastating challenges of deadly pandemic, an economic crisis, and reckoning on race that reveals deep disparities, we need to summon a new wave of worker power to create an economy that works for everyone,” Mr. Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.
Business groups and most Republicans fiercely oppose the measure as what Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, called “a left wing wish list of union boss priorities.” They argue it would hurt workers and decimate businesses at a time when thousands of small companies have folded because of the economic turmoil surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
She also argued against the repeal of states’ “right to work” laws that allow employees of an organized work force to opt out of paying dues if they do not want to join the union. The state laws have effectively constrained the resources available to unions and helped diminish their clout, and Ms. Foxx said repealing them would “undermine the rights of workers by forcing them to pay.”
Ms. Foxx added that the bill “stunts economic recovery” by imposing billions of dollars in new costs on businesses to comply with labor laws and would end up hurting gig economy workers.
Boeing said on Tuesday that it sold 31 airplanes in February after accounting for cancellations, the first month in more than a year that the aerospace giant had positive sales, suggesting that it is starting to regain its footing after the 737 Max crisis.
The Max was banned from flying passengers two years ago this week after a total of 346 people died in a pair of crashes aboard the plane, prompting intense scrutiny of the plane and the company. But late last year, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on the plane, allowing the Max to begin carrying passengers again after required changes are made.
Most of the world’s 190 aviation authorities have now approved the Max to fly again, according to Boeing, and 14 airlines have used the plane for more than 9,000 flights.
Sales of the plane have rebounded, too. On Tuesday, Boeing said it had received 82 new airplane orders in February, about half of them for the Max, including a large order from United Airlines. Another 51 aircraft orders were canceled, and the company now has 4,041 orders in its backlog.
It was Boeing’s first month of positive sales since November 2019, but its difficulties are far from over.
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the travel sector, prompting airlines to cancel orders and rethink plans to expand or update their fleets. And Boeing has also halted deliveries of the 787, a twin-aisle plane, amid quality concerns.
And the company is facing lawsuits over the Max from shareholders who say it mismanaged its response to the crisis and the families of those who were killed.
The first Max crash occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia. The second happened two years ago this Wednesday in Ethiopia. To mark that grim milestone, the families of people who died in the crashes plan to host a vigil outside the F.A.A. in Washington, and some are scheduled to meet the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, to discuss their concerns about the safety of the Max.
Stocks around the world rose on Tuesday as bond yields fell back from their recent highs. Tech stocks regained their footing, leading Wall Street higher.
The S&P 500 climbed 1.4 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 3.7 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed about 0.8 percent, led by utilities and tech stocks. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell to 1.54 percent.
Tech stocks have borne the brunt of the stock market volatility in recent weeks amid rising bond yields and inflation fears. There has been some concern that stronger economic growth will lead to inflation, and that central bankers would respond by tightening monetary policy. On Monday, the Nasdaq dropped 2.4 percent, ending the day more than 10 percent off its January peak. A drop that large is known as a correction. The S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent on Monday.
These concerns appeared to have been set aside on Tuesday, as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said it expected the American economy to grow 6.5 percent this year because of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package and the widening availability of coronavirus vaccine. That’s more than double the pace of growth the organization predicted in December.
In other upbeat economic news, there was an unexpected increase in German exports in January. Analysts at Citigroup said they had expected the pandemic and supply chain disruptions to cause exports to drop alongside imports. Instead, this data is a “large upside risk” to their G.D.P. forecasts for the first three months of the year, the analysts said.
It remains to be seen whether more market participants will buy the message from central bankers that the risks of high and sustained inflation are low. On Monday, Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary and former chair of the Federal Reserve, also said she didn’t believe the stimulus package would lead to higher inflation. “I really don’t think that is going to happen,” Ms. Yellen said on MSNBC, adding that she expected the economy to be back to full employment by next year. She added, though, that there were tools available if the spending did prove to be inflationary.
On Wednesday, U.S. inflation data for February will be published. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the annual inflation rate will climb to 1.7 percent from 1.4 percent.
As Congress moves closer to sending a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill to President Biden’s desk, the president visited a Washington, D.C., hardware store on Tuesday to tout his administration’s efforts to help the economy, and his press secretary said that Mr. Biden’s signature would not appear on future stimulus checks.
“He did not want his name to appear on the checks,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters, “and he didn’t think that was a priority.”
The decision would be a departure from Mr. Biden’s predecessor, President Donald J. Trump, who wanted his boldface signature on previous rounds of checks issued to Americans suffering from the pandemic. Mr. Biden, by contrast, has focused in recent days on highlighting the bipartisan appeal of a $1.9 trillion package, despite it moving forward without Republican support.
His visit to the hardware store, W.S. Jenks & Son, to promote a small business lending program that was started under Mr. Trump but has been criticized for allowing money to go to big companies rather than mom-and-pop shops.
“A lot of money went to people who shouldn’t have gotten help,” Mr. Biden said to the store’s employees, a which received a loan along with Little Wild Things Farm, an adjoining business.
Mr. Biden, who announced changes to the program that were intended to get more funds to smaller businesses, said that Mr. Trump had not done enough to fairly distribute loans.
“In the previous round of P.P.P., in the previous administration, there was documented problems from the inspector general of the Small Business Administration that tens of thousands of companies that were not eligible for P.P.P. ended up receiving it,” Bharat Ramamurti, a deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters when he was asked to explain what the president meant. “We’ve changed that.”
The Paycheck Protection Program has made some $687 billion in loans to more than 7 million borrowers since last spring, according to data from the Small Business Administration. But it has also been plagued with problems since the beginning of the pandemic. The Trump administration initially put few safeguards on the application process, allowing large, often publicly-traded companies to qualify for loans. Recipients have complained that their applications were delayed by technology glitches. A single typo could tank an application.
And there were complaints that the money was not equitably distributed.
The Biden administration announced a series of changes to the program late last month, including opening a two-week window to better prioritize businesses that employ fewer than 20 people, or noncitizens who are lawful residents of the United States, employers who had defaulted on student loan debt, and people who are sole proprietors or self-employed.
Mr. Ramamurti said that the two-week period led to an increase in loans to minority and women borrowers, and the administration logged 200,000 loans to first-time borrowers.
“There’s still plenty of money available,” he said.
The White House is under pressure from banks to extend the deadline for loans past March 31, the date the program is set to expire, because of the influx of applications. Several lawmakers have signaled a willingness to extend the deadline, but the White House did not respond to a request for comment on a possible extension on Tuesday.
The program has historically been a rare opportunity for bipartisan negotiation — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, has gone so far as to call it a “slam dunk” — but economists have said it has saved relatively few jobs at a high cost.
On Thursday, Mr. Biden will deliver a prime-time television address from the White House, marking the one-year anniversary of widespread shutdowns caused by the pandemic. Mr. Biden is expected to showcase his economic relief plan and outline the measures his administration is taking to help workers and businesses recover from the pandemic downturn.
President Biden’s video message last week expressing support for organized labor amid a heated unionization drive at an Amazon warehouse outside Birmingham, Ala., has invigorated the drive to improve working conditions at the retail giant in a state historically inhospitable to organized labor.
“I couldn’t believe he said something,” said Darryl Richardson, one of the workers helping to organize a campaign that has targeted one of the world’s most profitable companies and its billionaire chief executive, Jeff Bezos.
“It matters. It eased minds that might be worried about losing their job,” he said.
Around 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, a former steel town, are voting this week on whether they want to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
If successful, they would be the first of Amazon’s 400,000 American workers to join a union — a landmark undertaking and early test of Mr. Biden’s campaign claim that he will be the “most pro-union president” ever.
“Workers in Alabama, and all across America, are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace,” Mr. Biden said in a direct-to-camera address posted on the White House Twitter page after a recent pressure campaign by pro-union groups pushing him to weigh in on the drive.
“We’ve been waiting on him,” added Mike Foster, one of the lead organizers for the union.
The drive has pitted company against worker and neighbor against neighbor as a potentially broader labor push brews at a corporation that has long resisted similar efforts. Mr. Biden’s words demonstrated a willingness to support communities such as working-class voters in Republican states, many of whom are Black, that have often fallen outside the Democratic Party’s governing focus.
The message also elevated the national debate about the future of labor and unions, a cross-ideological issue on which Mr. Biden can uniquely find common cause with the progressive wing of his party even as many Democrats continue to shy away.
Mr. Biden’s statement did not mention Amazon specifically and carefully avoided backing the union, calling instead for a fair election that followed federal labor guidelines.
What’s more, the presidential nod to Alabama supercharged the Democratic arms race to find the next Georgia, where the party capitalized on decades of organizing and demographic change to break Republicans’ grip on statewide elections.
The task will be tougher in Alabama: The state is much more firmly Republican than its Southern neighbor. It has not experienced the rapid demographic change that made Georgia’s political transformation possible, and it does not have Georgia’s considerable numbers of college-educated suburban moderates.
Still, Alabama Democrats see the growth of unions — and the vote in Bessemer — as a crucial first step.
“Watching what happened in Georgia has given people a lot of hope,” said Kathleen Kirkpatrick, the political director of Hometown Action, a statewide activist group. “What Stacey Abrams did started a decade ago and took a lot of help. So let’s think about where we are on that path.”
The basic experience of sitting in a single line of cars, speaking into a sometimes garbled intercom and pulling up to a window to pay for your food before driving away is poised to be demonstrably altered for the first time in decades, Julie Creswell reports for The New York Times.
“The drive-through has been one of those places that hasn’t changed in decades,” said Ellie Doty, the North American chief marketing officer for Burger King. “But with Covid, we’re seeing the dramatic acceleration of directions we were already going.”
Applebee’s is testing its first drive-through in Texarkana, Texas. Shake Shack is experimenting with a number of new designs and plans, including walk-up windows and curbside pickup.
More restaurants are trying to encourage customers to use ordering apps, which improve the accuracy of orders. They are also trying to figure out how to best speed consumers through the drive-through or pickup process.
Some restaurants, like McDonald’s and Burger King, are adding multiple drive-through lanes. Burger King is running three-lane tests in the United States, Brazil and Spain. In the United States and Spain, the third lane is “express” for advance orders made through the app. In Brazil, the lane takes delivery drivers to a pickup area with food lockers or shelves.
Burger King is also looking to propel its drive-throughs into the future with a Big-Brother-like artificial intelligence system, Deep Flame.
Right now, roughly half of Burger King’s drive-throughs with digital menu boards are using Deep Flame’s technology to suggest foods that are particularly popular in the area that day. It also uses outside factors, like the weather, to highlight items like an iced coffee on a hot day.
Burger King is testing a Bluetooth technology that will be able to identify customers in Burger King’s loyalty program and show their previous orders. If a customer ordered a small Sprite and a Whopper with cheese, hold the pickles, the last three visits, Deep Flame will calculate that chances are high that the customer will want the same order again.
Lots of attention is being paid to carbon capture as a way to meet the targets in the 2016 Paris climate agreement. The idea sounds deceptively simple: Divert pollutants before they can escape into the air, and bury them deep in the ground where they can do no harm.
But the technology has proved to be hugely expensive, and it has not caught on as rapidly as some advocates hoped, Stanley Reed reports for The New York Times.
The oil giant BP is leading a project in England to collect emissions by pipeline from a group of chemical plants in northeast England and send it to a reservoir deep under the North Sea. BP hopes it can achieve sufficient scale to make a profitable business.
BP and its partners propose to build a very large electric power station fueled by natural gas near a shuttered steel mill at the mouth of the river. The plant would help replace Britain’s aging fossil-fuel-burning power stations and provide essential backup electricity when the country’s growing fleet of offshore wind farms are becalmed. Equipment would remove the carbon dioxide from the power station’s exhaust.
Pipes would run through the area rounding up more carbon dioxide from a fertilizer plant and a factory that makes hydrogen, which is winning favor as a low-carbon fuel. BP also expects to connect other plants in the area. Pipes would take the carbon dioxide 90 miles out under the North Sea, where it would be pumped below the seabed into porous rocks.
Four other oil giants — Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Equinor, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni — are also investors in the plan, although the final go-ahead awaits a financial commitment from the British government. The price for the initial stage could approach $5 billion.