Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 9, 2021

The Senate passes bill aiming to increase competitiveness with China, job openings surge to a record, and more

1

Senate passes bill aiming to boost U.S. competitiveness with China

The Senate on Tuesday passed a $250 billion bill seeking funding for scientific research, and subsidies for chipmakers and robot makers, to counter China's economic and military expansion and bolster the United States' competitiveness in technology. The 68-32 vote marked a rare moment of bipartisan agreement in a Senate increasingly divided along partisan lines. The legislation calls for committing billions of dollars to research, and providing more than $50 billion to U.S. manufacturers of tiny computer chips needed for everything from consumer products to military devices, but that many companies now get from China. The bill still must pass the House, which is expected to consider it in coming weeks.

2

Job openings surge but hiring can't keep up

U.S. job openings jumped by nearly a million in April to 9.3 million positions, setting records for the biggest one-month increase and the most overall since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the figures in 2000. The total number of job openings the federal government reported Tuesday exceeded the 8.3 million predicted by economists polled by Refinitiv. Demand for new workers is surging as companies prepare for a busy summer, with COVID-19 vaccinations rising, coronavirus restrictions fading, and businesses getting back to normal. U.S. employers were only able to hire 6.1 million people in April, a modest increase from March that left millions of positions unfilled even though a record share of companies tried to add employees.

3

Report: Bezos, Musk among billionaires who paid no income tax some years

Some of the world's richest people — including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and billionaire investors Carl Icahn and George Soros — paid no federal income taxes in some recent years, according to a ProPublica report published Tuesday. Bezos didn't pay any federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011, before the Amazon founder became the world's richest person but after he became a multibillionaire. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, paid none in 2018. Bloomberg, former New York mayor and business publishing tycoon, managed it, too, recently, and Soros did the same thing three straight years, ProPublica reported, citing Internal Revenue Service data covering 15 years of returns for thousands of the wealthiest American taxpayers. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said the agency was investigating the release of the information.

4

Clover Health surges as it becomes new favorite 'meme stock'

Clover Health shares jumped by 18 percent and headed toward a record high on Wednesday as the stock became a favorite of Reddit traders in the latest "meme stock" rally. On Tuesday, the Medicare-backed insurance seller was one of the most heavily traded stocks as individual traders on online discussion forums such as Reddit's WallStreetBets pushed its price up by as much as 109 percent on Tuesday before it closed up by 86 percent. Clover has jumped by 190 percent this month. Other "meme stocks" were mixed. Video-game retailer GameStop rose by 2.7 percent early Wednesday. Movie-theater chain AMC, a recent Reddit favorite, fell by 7.4 percent. AMC and GameStop have gained nearly 2500 percent and 1500 percent respectively in 2021.

5

Stock futures flat as Wall Street awaits inflation clues

U.S. stock index futures were little changed early Wednesday as the S&P 500 continued to struggle for traction just below a record high. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were essentially flat several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 inched up by 0.02 percent on Tuesday, while the Dow fell by nearly 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent. Analysts said inflation concerns are continuing to make investors cautious ahead of fresh consumer price data on Thursday. "U.S. stocks have largely been stuck in a range since mid-April and don't seem likely to be breaking out anytime soon," Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a note.

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