Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 26, 2021

Bitcoin jumps to 6-week high after bullish comments, stock futures fall after last week's records, and more

1

Bitcoin jumps to 6-week high

Bitcoin surged to a six-week high early Monday, with its price rising by more than 20 percent to $39,112, according to CoinDesk. A rival cryptocurrency, ether, rose by more than 16 percent. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said he and another of his companies, SpaceX, hold bitcoin, and that Tesla would probably start accepting bitcoin as payment again as soon as the energy-intensive process of "mining" it becomes less dependent on fossil fuels. These and other comments supporting cryptocurrency have prompted investors and speculators to "build up their positions and buy back bitcoin," said Bobby Lee, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency hardware wallet Ballet. Bitcoin is still 40 percent below its mid-April high of nearly $65,000.

2

Stock futures lose ground after ending last week at record highs

Stock futures struggled early Monday ahead of a big week of corporate earnings reports. Tesla comes first, reporting quarterly results after the closing bell. Big tech giants Apple, Google-parent Alphabet, and Microsoft follow on Tuesday. Amazon reports later in the week. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.4 percent several hours before the opening bell, while those linked to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. Wall Street bounced back last week with a four-day winning streak after big losses on Monday. All three of the main U.S. indexes closed the week at record highs.

3

Gas prices edge up by 2 cents a gallon

The average price of a gallon of gas in the United States rose by 2 cents over the past two weeks to $3.22 per gallon, 98 cents higher than it was a year ago as demand sank due to the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The highest average price for regular gas was in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it was $4.39 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that abundant supply was helping to keep prices from rising higher still. The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel also rose by 2 cents in the past two weeks, to $3.31 per gallon.

4

Pelosi, key Republican split on timing of infrastructure deal vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday on ABC that the House would not vote on a bipartisan infrastructure package until it passes the Senate. "We are rooting for the infrastructure bill to pass, but we all know that more needs to be done." Pelosi supports passing the $1 trillion deal at the same time as a $3.5 trillion spending package. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a leading negotiator on the bipartisan package, said in a separate ABC appearance that Pelosi's position was "entirely counter" to President Biden's commitment to a bipartisan effort to get the proposal through the House and the Senate. The infrastructure bill, he said, "has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza (Pelosi's) talking about."

5

Teen workers help businesses deal with labor shortage

Teenagers have become one of the largest segments of the workforce as businesses struggle to staff up following coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, according to a Sunday report in USA Today. In May, workers ages 16 to 19 accounted for 33.2 percent of the national workforce, the highest level since the Great Recession of 2008. "We are facing the biggest staffing crisis probably in my lifetime, and I've been in the business for almost 50 years," said John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association. "Many people left the industry and found jobs doing other things." Longstreet added: "The biggest challenge that restaurants have now is getting enough team members in the house to be able to serve all of the guests that want to come in."

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