The daily business briefing: March 6, 2023

French pension-reform protests intensify, Tesla cuts prices on two more vehicles, and more

Protesters in France
(Image credit: Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

1. Protests intensify against France pension-reform proposal

French protests against the government's controversial pension reform plan are intensifying this week with strikes and other operations organizers say will bring the country "to a standstill." Truckers are blocking roads on Monday to slow traffic in "escargot" (snail) operations on major highways. Unions plan to start an open-ended national rail service strike on Monday night, followed by bigger disruptions on Tuesday, when workers in several sectors plan to go on strike. The government of President Emmanuel Macron has proposed pension reform that would raise the official pension age from 62 to 64, with 43 years of work required to earn a full pension.

The Associated Press France24

2. Tesla cuts U.S. prices on two more vehicles

Tesla on Sunday cut prices on two of its luxury electric vehicles. Tesla said on its website that it would reduce the price for a Model S by $5,000, bringing the all-wheel drive version to $89,990. The Model X all-wheel drive dropped to $99,990, down $10,000. The changes came after Tesla sharply cut prices in January, and marked the EV-maker's fifth price cuts in the last few months. Tesla shares rose 0.9 percent in pre-market trading on Monday. The stock is up 60 percent in 2023, but still down 26 percent from a year ago. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other leaders at last week's Tesla's investor day stressed the importance of reducing costs. "The desire for people to own a Tesla is extremely high," Musk said. "The limiting factor is their ability to pay for a Tesla."

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TechCrunch Barron's

3. China announces its lowest economic growth target in a quarter-century

China Premier Li Keqiang announced Sunday at the start of the country's annual legislative session that Beijing has set an economic growth target of 5 percent this year. It is Beijing's lowest growth target in more than a quarter-century. "This year, it is essential to prioritize economic stability and pursue progress while ensuring stability," Li said in a government work report. Last year's target was 5.5 percent, and the world's second biggest economy fell far short. China is struggling to bounce back from the devastating effects of three years of strict restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. During this week's legislative session, President Xi Jinping is expected to continue solidifying his grip on power.

The Wall Street Journal

4. Senators to discuss bill on banning foreign tech like TikTok

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Sunday he plans to introduce a bill proposing a strategy to ban some foreign technology, including China's popular TikTok video-sharing app. TikTok has faced intense scrutiny over privacy concerns. TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is based in China and privately held. "They are taking data from Americans, not keeping it safe, but what worries me more with TikTok is that this can be a propaganda tool," Warner said on Fox News Sunday. Warner's legislation, which he said has broad bipartisan support, comes after a House committee last week advanced a bill that would give President Biden authority to ban TikTok.

Bloomberg CNBC

5. Stocks little changed ahead of a big week of economic data

U.S. stock futures were little changed early Monday ahead of a big week of economic data. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were nearly flat at 6:45 a.m. ET. The Dow gained 1.8 percent last week to snap a four-week losing streak. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 1.9 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. The gains came even though benchmark 10-year Treasury yields rose above 4 percent during the week, signaling rising borrowing costs and deflating investor confidence. Coming up this week: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the February jobs report comes out on Friday.


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