Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 7, 2021

The Pentagon cancels its $10 billion JEDI cloud-computing contract, AAA says gas prices will rise through summer, and more

1

Pentagon cancels JEDI cloud-computing contract with Microsoft

The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it was canceling its $10 billion JEDI cloud-computing contract with Microsoft. The decision came after Amazon protested the decision to give the contract to rival Microsoft. The Pentagon said it would start the procurement process over again. The process will start out with Amazon and Microsoft competing against each other, but other cloud vendors are expected to be allowed to make bids at some point. "The Department has determined that, due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy, and industry advances, the JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets its needs," a Defense Department spokesperson said in an unsigned news release.

2

U.S. gas prices to rise up to 20 cents a gallon over 2 months

AAA said Tuesday that it expected U.S. gasoline prices to rise by 10 to 20 cents per gallon through late August. The average price for a gallon of regular gas has reached $3.13, up from $3.05 a month ago, AAA said. A year ago, the average pump price for regular gas in the United States had dropped to $2.18 per gallon, because the coronavirus crisis was forcing people to stay home. Upward pressure on prices increased this week when OPEC talks broke down, blocking a deal on raising production to meet surging demand. "Robust gasoline demand and more expensive crude oil prices are pushing gas prices higher," Jeanette McGee, an AAA representative, said in a statement. "We had hoped that global crude production increases would bring some relief at the pump this month, but weekend OPEC negotiations fell through."

3

RNC contractor hacked around time of massive ransomware attack

The Republican National Committee said Tuesday that Russian hackers breached one of its technology providers, Synnex, last week, around the time of a massive global ransomware attack that affected up to 1,500 businesses. The RNC said none of its data was compromised, and the extent of the hack against Synnex was not immediately clear. Early indications pointed to Russia's SVR intelligence agency as the suspected culprit, investigators said. The SVR hacked the Democratic National Committee six years ago, and more recently was blamed for the SolarWinds attack that targeted several government agencies and some of the largest U.S. corporations. Last week's ransomware attack was one of the largest in history. The hackers reportedly demanded $70 million in bitcoin as ransom to free up the computer systems of the targeted companies.

4

Stock futures edge higher after S&P 500 winning streak ends

U.S. stock futures made modest gains early Wednesday after the S&P 500 snapped a seven-day winning streak. S&P 500 futures were up by 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were flat, while those linked to the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 fell by 0.2 percent on Tuesday, ending its longest winning streak since August. The Dow dropped by 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq gained 0.2 percent, closing at an all-time high. "It is really the tech space that's been driving the market," said Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Solutions. Wall Street has seen a series of records recently as the economy rebounds from the coronavirus crisis but the Federal Reserve sticks with policies to support the recovery.

5

Peacock to add all Universal films starting in 2022

The Peacock streaming service has reached a deal with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group to offer all Universal films starting in 2022, the two companies, both subsidiaries of Comcast's NBCUniversal, announced Tuesday. The addition of Universal's library, which includes the new Jurassic World and Minions movies, marks the latest sign of rising competition for streaming viewers. Universal films will become exclusively available on Peacock within four months of their theatrical premieres. The films will be available only on Peacock for the first and last four months of the 18-month window following their theater debuts. Peacock also plans to start developing Peacock-only content.

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