Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 9, 2021

Pfizer plans to request authorization of booster shot, Wells Fargo says it's closing all personal lines of credit, and more

1

Pfizer to request approval for COVID-19 booster shot

Pfizer plans to ask federal regulators to authorize use of its COVID-19 vaccine booster within weeks, Reuters reported Thursday, citing the drugmaker's top scientist, Mikael Dolsten. Dolsten said the recent drop in Israel of the effectiveness of the company's vaccine indicated that inoculated people faced an increased risk of infection after six months. The spread of the highly infectious Delta variant also is increasing the risk of infection and moderate illness among people who have been fully vaccinated. "The Pfizer vaccine is highly active against the Delta variant," Dolsten told Reuters. But after six months, he added, antibodies wane, as expected, and infection risk rises. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said boosters aren't yet necessary.

2

Wells Fargo closing all personal lines of credit

Wells Fargo informed customers it would be closing all personal lines of credit over the next few weeks, CNBC reported Thursday, citing letters it reviewed from the bank to customers. Typically, customers with personal lines of credit can borrow between $3,000 and $100,000, with variable interest rates ranging from 9.5 percent to 21 percent. The bank said it was discontinuing the product so it could focus on personal loans and credit cards, and warned in its letter that the closure of the accounts "may have an impact on your credit score." The move came three years after a scandal in which Wells Fargo employees opened millions of fake savings and checking accounts without customers' consent.

3

Instacart hires Facebook executive to take over as CEO

Facebook executive Fidji Simo said Thursday that she has been hired as CEO of on-demand grocery start-up Instacart. Simo, 35, will immediately take over the job being vacated by Instacart founder Apporva Mehta, 34. Mehta will transition into the role of executive chairman of Instacart's board. "I'm excited to work with the talented teams at Instacart, as well as our retail partners, to reimagine the future of grocery," said Simo, who was head of Facebook's namesake app. Simo worked at Facebook for a decade, starting out as a product marketing executive and rising to run its app. The hiring of Simo was seen as a key step on Instacart's way to becoming a public company.

4

Fed official says Delta variant, low vaccination rates threaten recovery

Mary Daly, a top Federal Reserve official, said in an interview published in the Financial Times on Thursday that the Delta variant of the coronavirus, along with low vaccination rates, represents a threat to the global recovery from the economic damage caused by the pandemic. Daly, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, called for caution before the central bank starts unwinding its support for the economy through such measures as bond purchases and near-zero interest rates. "We are not through the pandemic," she said. "We are getting through the pandemic." Daly's warning came as many investors fled stocks for the safety of bonds, sending U.S. government bond prices rising sharply.

5

Stock futures mixed after Thursday's drop

Stock futures rose early Friday after Thursday's drop, which came as investor worries about the economic recovery mounted. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.5 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the S&P 500 were up by 0.3 percent, while those of the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by less than 0.1 percent. Thursday's decline came as coronavirus infections rise in some parts of the United States, due largely to the rapid spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. The Dow closed down by nearly 0.8 percent on Thursday. The S&P 500 fell by almost 0.9 percent. The Nasdaq lost 0.7 percent, snapping a four-day winning streak. All three of the main U.S. indexes were on track for a losing week.

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