Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 2, 2021

Ransomware attack shuts down giant meat producer, Biden suspends Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas leases, and more

1

Cyberattack shuts down meat producer JBS

Hackers believed to be from Russia forced Brazilian meat producer JBS to shut down its U.S. beef plants, which provide nearly a quarter of the American supply. The cyberattack disrupted operations at all of JBS's meatpacking facilities in the country, Bloomberg reported, citing an official at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. JBS, the world's top meat producer, didn't immediately comment. One of Canada's biggest beef plants also shut down, although it was not immediately clear how many of the company's other facilities around the world were affected by the ransomware attack, the latest in a series of attacks by hackers demanding ransom to restore compromised computer systems. The attack came three weeks after hackers forced the shutdown of the biggest gasoline pipeline in the U.S.

2

Biden suspends Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas leases

The Biden administration on Tuesday suspended Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas leases, President Biden's latest move to negate actions former President Donald Trump took not long before leaving office. The Interior Department's decision would undo nearly a dozen leases Republicans and Democrats have battled over for decades, likely triggering a legal fight. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said a review of Trump's leasing program in the wildlife refuge uncovered "multiple legal deficiencies," such as "insufficient analysis" required under environmental laws. Haaland ordered a temporary moratorium pending "a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program." Biden has paused new federal oil and gas leases and promised to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions.

3

AMC shares head for record open in latest 'meme stock' surge

AMC Entertainment shares jumped by 28 percent in pre-market trading Wednesday and headed for a record-high open in another surge for "meme stocks" promoted by online traders on social media. The movie theater chain raised $230 million in cash by issuing 8.5 million shares to Mudrick Capital Management, allowing it to benefit from a trading frenzy that has sent its stock soaring by more than 1,400 percent this year. Mudrick, believing the stock was overvalued, sold off its AMC stake at a profit. AMC shares are priced around $41, more than 10 times analysts' median price target. AMC now leads the gains among the meme-driven stocks, which include brick-and-mortar video-game retailer GameStop, and BlackBerry Ltd. BlackBerry's U.S.-listed shares surged by 20 percent in pre-market trading. 

4

Yellen holds her first video meeting with China on tariff war

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday held her first video meeting with China's chief economic envoy, Vice Premier Liu He. Neither side gave any clues on when they aim to resume negotiations on ending a tariff war started by former President Donald Trump, who accused China of using unfair trade practices to boost its trade surplus. The Treasury Department said Yellen and Liu discussed "frankly tackling issues of concern." High-level negotiators haven't met in person since the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020. Lower-level officials have met monthly by phone to discuss the execution of a 2019 "Phase 1" agreement toward ending the dispute that suspended further tariff hikes and included a promise by China to buy more U.S. soybeans and other exports.

5

Stock futures mixed after slow start to June trading

U.S. stock index futures were flat early Wednesday following a muted first day of trading in June. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the S&P 500 were flat, and those linked to the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.1 percent. The Dow gained 0.1 percent on Monday, while the S&P 500 edged down by just 2 points, snapping a three-day winning streak. The Nasdaq fell by 0.1 percent. Travel companies, including airlines and cruise operators, had a good day as falling coronavirus infections make it easier for Americans to travel. The major indexes have fluctuated recently but remain near all-time highs as the economy recovers from pandemic-induced damage.

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