Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 4, 2021

The CDC announces a new eviction ban, Blizzard president resigns as game-maker faces sexual harassment backlash, and more

1

CDC announces new, targeted eviction moratorium

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday announced a new eviction moratorium covering areas with high coronavirus transmission rates. The policy will last 60 days. Many progressive Democrats in Congress harshly criticized President Biden for letting the original moratorium expire on Saturday, although Biden said a June Supreme Court decision required action from Congress to extend the ban. The new eviction freeze affects counties where the CDC has recommended that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors. The areas covered are home to 90 percent of the U.S. population. Biden acknowledged that even a limited freeze could face court challenges, but the legal process would provide time to get emergency assistance to millions of people in danger of losing their homes.

2

Blizzard president resigns as company faces sexual harassment backlash

Video-game giant Activision Blizzard announced Tuesday that its president, J. Allen Brack, is stepping down as the company faces a discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit in California, and an employee revolt. The state last month sued Activision Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and other popular games, accusing it of fostering a "frat boy" culture that is "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women." More than 1,500 workers walked out from their jobs this week, and thousands signed a letter criticizing the company after executives dismissed the lawsuit as "meritless" and "inaccurate." Activision CEO Bobby Kotick on Tuesday apologized for the "tone deaf" response, and said there was "no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind."

3

PepsiCo selling Tropicana, other juice brands in $4.5 billion deal

PepsiCo is selling its Tropicana, Naked, and other juice brands to private-equity firm PAI Partners, the snacks-and-beverage company confirmed Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal first reported the news. PepsiCo will get $3.3 billion and retain a 39 percent stake in a deal worth about $4.5 billion. PepsiCo said last year that orange juice sales rose last year as more people ate breakfast at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, but overall fruit-juice sales continued a decline as consumers cut sugar consumption. PepsiCo, rival Coca-Cola, and other beverage companies in recent years have tried to shift away from sugary drinks in favor of diet soda, flavored seltzer, and bottled water.

4

Stocks flat after S&P 500's latest record

U.S. stock futures were mixed early Wednesday following the latest record-setting session for the S&P 500. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by about 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures were down by less than 0.1 percent. The three main U.S. indexes struggled for footing on Tuesday before surging late in the day. The S&P 500 rose by 0.8 percent to close in the latest in a string of all-time highs. The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. After the bell, Lyft and Caesars Entertainment became the latest companies to report better-than-expected quarterly results in a strong earnings season. Both stocks gained more than 3.5 percent in after-hours trading.

5

Honda, Toyota profits jump in sign of pandemic-era resilience

Honda reported Wednesday that it made a $2 billion profit in the second quarter, returning to profitability as improving sales and cost cuts helped it bounce back from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The Japanese automaker's sales reached $33 billion, an increase of 69 percent on the year, with a boost from recovering sales in North America and higher motorcycle sales in India and Indonesia. Honda also raised its sales forecast for the next year. Earlier Wednesday, Toyota reported a record $8.2 billion profit for its fiscal first quarter, a more than five-fold increase over last year. Toyota kept its forecast for the year ending March 2022 unchanged, citing the ongoing semiconductor shortage and other remaining concerns.

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