Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 23, 2021

Rachel Maddow signs deal to stay at MSNBC, Bitcoin hits $50,000 for first time since mid-May, and more

1

Maddow signs deal to stay at MSNBC

Rachel Maddow has signed a new contract with MSNBC that will keep her in the network's lineup for several years, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter. Maddow's The Rachel Maddow Show is a prime-time flagship for the cable news channel. Maddow is expected to continue to host her show for MSNBC on weekdays, some of the Journal's sources said. She also will develop projects for a new partnership with NBCUniversal. The deal followed speculation that Maddow might leave the network to start her own media company.

2

Bitcoin rises above $50,000 for first time since May

Bitcoin's price hit $50,000 late Sunday as the world's largest cryptocurrency continued to recover from a collapse three months ago. Bitcoin gained nearly 4 percent and peaked at $50,250 overnight, according to Coindesk data. The last time the cryptocurrency was at the $50,000 level was early May. After peaking at nearly $65,000 in April, it plunged and lost more than half its value by late June. Bitcoin has gained 13 percent in the last five days. It is up by 48 percent in the past month. Other cryptocurrencies also have rebounded. Ether, which runs on the ethereum blockchain, has gained 52 percent in the past month. It, too, dropped sharply in late May.

3

Stock futures edge up after last week's losses

U.S. stock index futures rose early Monday after volatile trading last week. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by about 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. The three main U.S. averages fell last week as investors expressed concerns that the Federal Reserve may reduce its efforts to boost the economic recovery later this year despite potential damage from a coronavirus surge fueled by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. The Dow closed the week down by 1.1 percent. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

4

Harris touts discussions with Singapore on supply-chain resilience

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday sought to reassure allies in Asia about the U.S. commitment to the region despite the Afghanistan withdrawal, announcing that the U.S. and Singapore were working on boosting supply-chain resilience. At the start of a Southeast Asia trip, Harris also noted a series of agreements with Singapore on cybersecurity, climate, and public health. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered help with the U.S. evacuation effort in Afghanistan, and said the U.S. played a key role as "regional guarantor of security and support of prosperity" in Asia. "We are watching what's happening in Afghanistan on the TV screens today, but what will influence perceptions of U.S. resolve and commitment to the region will be what the U.S. does going forward," Lee said.

5

Free Guy leads box office for 2nd week

Walt Disney's Free Guy held onto its top spot at the domestic box office over the weekend, bringing in another $18.8 million in ticket sales. The film benefited from strong word-of-mouth and the appeal of star Ryan Reynolds. The film's second weekend take marked just a 34 percent drop from its opening weekend haul, far better than the typical 50 to 60 percent drop. "We don't see 34% drops like this very often, particularly in the pandemic era," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. Free Guy's second-week staying power was the best for any film with more than $10 million in ticket sales in the last year. "It's another great signal for what a crowd-pleasing film can achieve in theaters," said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. 

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