Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 3, 2021

AMC shares skyrocket to record high, JBS meat plants resume operations after cyberattack, and more

1

AMC reaches out to shareholders as stock skyrockets

Shares of AMC, the world's largest movie-theater chain, skyrocketed by 120 percent to a record high on Wednesday. The stock retreated a bit from its peak above $70, closing with a gain of 95 percent at $62.55. AMC was lifted up by investors on the WallStreetBets Reddit board, who have been boosting the stock to punish short sellers betting that it will fall. The company said it would reach out to its "passionate" new supporters with a program called "AMC Investor Connect." "Many of our investors have demonstrated support and confidence in AMC. We intend to communicate often with these investors, and from time to time provide them with special benefits at our theatres," Adam Aron, AMC's CEO, said in a statement. "We start with a free large popcorn on us when they attend their first movie at an AMC theatre this summer."

2

JBS meat plants restart but shortages drag on after cyberattack

Brazilian meat producer JBS, which provides nearly a fifth of U.S. meat supply, said Wednesday that most of its plants were back up and running after being shut down by a ransomware attack, but the hack continued to slow distribution, pushing up wholesale meat prices. Shifts at some processing facilities remained suspended even though employees had been told to return to work. The White House has said the cyberattack appeared to be the work of a criminal group likely based in Russia. President Biden reportedly plans to bring up the matter during his June 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. Chicken plants operated by Pilgrim's Pride, a JBS subsidiary, also were affected. Publix Super Markets said the plant closures could cause intermittent chicken shortages for a few days.

3

Biden meets with GOP negotiator on infrastructure

President Biden met Wednesday with lead Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) to discuss their rival infrastructure proposals. Biden had set a Memorial Day deadline for a breakthrough, but pushed it back as the two sides crept closer to a deal. Biden cut his proposal from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion, then GOP senators upped their offer from under $600 billion to $928 billion. But Biden rejected the Republicans' proposal to pay for it with diverted coronavirus relief funds, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said was key to a reaching a bipartisan deal. Biden wants to cover costs with tax hikes on corporations and the super rich. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is "eager to find a path forward on bipartisanship." 

4

Hedge fund nominees earn 3rd spot on Exxon board

ExxonMobil shareholders elected a third board member nominated by hedge fund Engine No. 1, the energy giant said Wednesday. The election upsets expanded investors' push for a stronger corporate response to the threat of climate change. The vote marked the latest jolt to the energy industry as shareholders express concerns about global warming, and demand stronger investment returns. Engine No. 1 nominee Alexander Karsner, a strategist at Google owner Alphabet, took the third seat for the hedge fund on the 12-member board. "We hope the existing board directors will work with the new non-executive directors and benefit from their significant experience with transition plans and in renewable energy," said Bess Joffe, at the Church Commissioners for England, which invests for the Church of England.

5

Stock futures fall after Wednesday's slight gains

U.S. stock index futures traded lower early Thursday following Wednesday's modest gains. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were all down by about 0.6 percent several hours before the opening bell, ahead of new data expected to show jobless claims fell to a new pandemic-era low last week. All three of the main U.S. indexes rose by about 0.1 percent on Wednesday. "It's unclear if this week's flat S&P 500 Index is a continuation of the holiday week relaxation, May's malaise seeping into June, or just part of a broader return to normal(ish) summer," said Goldman Sachs' Chris Hussey. "Whatever the cause, markets remain languid."

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