Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 8, 2021

DOJ recovers most of Colonial Pipeline ransom, FDA approves 1st new Alzheimer's drug in nearly 2 decades, and more

1

DOJ recovers most of Colonial Pipeline ransom  

The Justice Department announced Monday that it had recovered about $2.3 million of the $4.4 million in bitcoin that Colonial Pipeline paid as ransom to the Russia-based hackers who forced the shutdown of the nation's largest fuel pipeline last month. The pipeline carries nearly half the East Coast's fuel, and the closure caused gas shortages across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. The cryptocurrency recovery was the first one accomplished by a Biden administration ransomware task force. "By going after the entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the costs and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference.

2

FDA approves 1st new Alzheimer's medicine in nearly 2 decades

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a new medicine, called Aduhelm, for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It is the first new Alzheimer's drug cleared for use in nearly two decades, so the decision offers a new resource for millions of Americans diagnosed with the condition, which causes cognitive decline. Aduhelm can't reverse the disease's progression, so it is not a cure. But its proponents say it can eliminate toxic proteins suspected of destroying neurons and contributing to dementia, although some scientists question whether the drug really works. The drug was dismissed as a failure two years ago, but now stands to generate billions in revenue for its maker, Biogen.

3

NOAA: Atmospheric carbon buildup increased despite pandemic recession

Despite the global economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, human-made pollution increased the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere to a record level in the past year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday. Levels of CO2, the main human-caused greenhouse gas, averaged 419 parts per million at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, in May, an increase of 1.82 parts per million over the level in May 2020. The stable pre-industrial level was 280 parts per million. "There was no discernible signal in the data from the global economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic," NOAA said. Pieter Tans, a senior scientist with NOAA's Global Monitoring Laboratory, added: "If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the highest priority must be to reduce CO2 pollution to zero at the earliest possible date." 

4

Bezos to be among passengers on 1st Blue Origin crewed space flight

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in an Instagram post on Monday that he would travel to space next month on the inaugural crewed flight of his Blue Origin space company's New Shepard spacecraft. The mission is scheduled for a July 20 launch from West Texas. Bezos' brother, Mark Bezos, also will be among the passengers, as will the winner of a charity auction for another spot. The top bid climbed Monday by $400,000, to $3.2 million. Blue Origin's New Shepard has made 15 test flights with no crew to verify its safety. Jeff Bezos, 57, said he was going on the flight "because it's a thing I've wanted to do all my life." Blue Origin is competing with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic in a race to offer passengers tickets for brief suborbital flights for a taste of space travel.

5

Stock futures mixed as S&P 500 remains near record high

U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Tuesday as Wall Street continued to struggle for direction this week. S&P 500 futures edged higher, rising by less than 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.1 percent. Nasdaq futures gained 0.2 percent. The S&P 500 fell by 0.1 percent on Monday, but remained less than 0.3 percent shy of the intraday record it set on May 7 before being dragged down by concerns that inflation could prompt the Federal Reserve to dial back the easy money policies it was using to boost the economic recovery from damaged caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Investors are awaiting new clues on inflation when May's consumer price index comes out on Thursday.

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