Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 16, 2021

U.S. cautions investors on Hong Kong, Canada considers allowing vaccinated U.S. travelers, and more

1

Biden administration to caution investors about Hong Kong risks

The Biden administration on Friday is expected to issue a warning to U.S. companies and investors about the increasing risks of operating in Hong Kong. "The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating, and the Chinese government is not keeping its commitment that it made, how it would deal with Hong Kong," President Biden said Thursday. China has been cracking down on the financial hub, and the U.S. advisory warns of Beijing's increasingly hostile national security laws, its weak data privacy measures, attacks on press freedom, and harsh sanctions. China accused the U.S. of "interfering in the Hong Kong issue and China's internal affairs." This is the latest escalation in tensions between the world's two largest economies which, as Bloomberg explains, are "still so dependent on each other for trade and economic growth." 

2

Trudeau: Canada may open border to vaccinated Americans in August

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Canada could open its borders to fully vaccinated American making non-essential trips starting in August. Canada closed the land border between the two countries in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, and has maintained strict entry rules for other foreign travelers. Trudeau suggested vaccinated visitors from all other countries will be permitted in September. The potential rule changes come as "case numbers and severe illness continue to decline as vaccinations continue to increase" in Canada, according to a statement from Trudeau's office. Canada has vaccinated more than half its eligible residents and is seeing several hundred new cases per day. Trudeau has been under pressure from Canadian business groups and U.S. lawmakers to loosen the border U.S. restrictions given the two countries' close economic ties. 

3

3 major hospitals snub controversial new Alzheimer's drug

Three major U.S. hospitals — The Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai Health System in New York, and Providence in Renton, Wash. — have said they will not administer Biogen Inc.'s controversial new Alzheimer's treatment due to concerns over its effectiveness and the approval process. The drug, which is known as Aduhelm or Aducanumab, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration but has been met with skepticism by some health experts. "Based on the current data regarding its safety and efficacy, we have decided not to carry Aducanumab at this time," the Cleveland Clinic said. Biogen says it stands behind Aduhelm, the first new treatment for Alzheimer's in 20 years. Some health insurers may not cover the drug, which is priced at $56,000 a year. 

4

Biden, Merkel discuss controversial pipeline during White House meeting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday became the first European leader to meet President Biden at the White House, where they discussed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that will go from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Biden has shared his concerns over the pipeline, which is nearly complete, saying it will make Europe more reliant on Russian gas and puts Russia in a position where it can place pressure on Ukraine. During their joint press conference, Merkel said the "idea is and remains that Ukraine remains a transit country for natural gas, that Ukraine just as any other country in the world has a right to territorial sovereignty." Germany, she added, will take action "should Russia not respect this right of Ukraine that it has as a transit country." They both agreed that Russia can't be allowed to weaponize energy. "We stand together and will continue to stand together to defend our eastern flank allies at NATO against Russian aggression," Biden said. 

5

Moderna set to join S&P 500

U.S. stock futures were up slightly Friday ahead of the release of retail sales data. S&P 500 futures were up 0.14 percent; Nasdaq futures crept up 0.18 percent and those of the Dow were up 0.09 percent. The markets ended lower on Thursday after Fed chair Jerome Powell expressed discomfort with inflation levels and the economic outlook. The Commerce Department's Friday report is expected to show retail sales down 0.3 percent in June compared to May, the second straight monthly decline. Shares of biotech Moderna, which makes one of three U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccines, surged 8 percent in extended hours Thursday after the announcement that the company will join the S&P on July 21, replacing Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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