The daily business briefing: August 30, 2021
Colonial Pipeline temporarily shuts lines due to Hurricane Ida, E.U. prepares to recommend restricting travel from U.S., and more
Hurricane Ida forces temporary shutdown of pipeline
Colonial Pipeline has temporarily shut down two fuel lines in the South as a precaution due to Hurricane Ida, which hit the Louisiana's Gulf Coast on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 storm. The company said fuel would still be available throughout the Southeast, calling the shutdown a "precautionary and routine safety measure." Federal regulators said that more than 95 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production facilities had to temporarily halt operations because of the storm, which was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved slowly inland. Colonial Pipeline is expected to restore the pipeline to full service after the storm. The 5,500-mile pipeline transports nearly half of the East Coast's gasoline and diesel.
E.U. expected to recommend halt to travel from U.S.
The European Union is preparing to recommend a halt to all non-essential travel from the United States to help curb surging coronavirus infections driven by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing diplomats. European leaders reportedly have been considering the change over the last month as the average U.S. infection rate surpassed that of the E.U. A final decision on the non-binding travel restriction is expected Monday. Some countries are expected to continue letting in American tourists who can prove they have been fully vaccinated. Some European leaders have been pushing for the change because the U.S. kept its ban on European tourists in place after European nations allowed travel from the U.S. to resume.
Stock futures inch higher after Friday's records
U.S. stock index futures edged up early Monday after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq set their latest record highs on Friday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were all up by 0.1 percent or less several hours before the opening bell. Stocks gained on Friday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank could dial back its bond purchases later this year and slowly start raising ultra-low interest rates later this year as the economic recovery continues. Investors could stay cautious through the week as they await Friday's August jobs report, which economists polled by Dow Jones expect to show that nonfarm employers added 750,000 jobs this month.
More Moderna vaccine doses suspended over contamination risk in Japan
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine contamination problems intensified in Japan over the weekend. Two people died after getting shots from a batch flagged for contamination risk, and another million doses were temporarily suspended. About 1.6 million doses were suspended last week, so the latest developments meant that the total supply now affected is 2.6 million doses. The latest reports of vaccine contamination were in Gunma prefecture near Tokyo and the southern prefecture of Okinawa. Black substances were found in isolated Moderna vaccine vials and syringes. Japan's health ministry is investigating the deaths, but they have not yet been linked to the vaccines or possible contamination.
Tesla using automated system hits Florida Highway Patrol car
A Tesla vehicle operating on its partially automated driving system hit a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser over the weekend along an interstate near downtown Orlando. The Tesla narrowly missed the trooper, who had pulled over to assist a disabled vehicle, as it hit the cruiser's left side before colliding with the disabled vehicle, a highway patrol spokeswoman told The Orlando Sentinel. The 27-year-old man in the Tesla and the driver of the stopped vehicle suffered minor injuries. The trooper was not hurt. The federal government earlier this month launched an investigation into Tesla's Autopilot driving system following other collisions with parked emergency vehicles. The system has been misused by some drivers, some of whom have turned it on when driving drunk or riding in the back seat.