Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 16, 2021

SpaceX sends the first all-civilian crew into orbit, FDA staff decline to take a firm position on Pfizer booster, and more


SpaceX sends 1st all-tourist crew into orbit

SpaceX on Wednesday launched the first space mission with an all-civilian, all-tourist crew, a milestone in private spaceflight. The company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk used a reusable Falcon 9 rocket to send tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, geoscientist Sian Proctor, aerospace data engineer Chris Sembroski, and physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux into orbit. They will spend three days in space before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule. Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and CEO of payment processor Shift4 Payments, paid an unspecified amount for his spot in the Inspiration4 mission, which took off from the same Cape Canaveral, Florida, launchpad as NASA's Apollo moon missions. Isaacman also donated the other three seats and donated $100 million to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


FDA staff declines to take clear stand on Pfizer booster

Food and Drug Administration staff on Wednesday declined to take a position on whether to endorse Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine booster shots. "There are many potentially relevant studies, but FDA has not independently reviewed or verified the underlying data or their conclusions," they wrote in a document posted on the agency's website. The officials said that later this week they will review some of the studies, including one from Israel's vaccination program. Pfizer, arguing for FDA approval of its booster, has said the Israel data indicate that a third shot restores protection from infection to 95 percent. But the FDA staff wrote that data overall "indicate that currently US-licensed or authorized COVID-19 vaccines still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death."


Federer-backed shoe company On Holding jumps in market debut

Shares of running-shoe company On Holding, which is backed by tennis superstar Roger Federer, soared by 47 percent Wednesday in their debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The gains lifted the Swiss company's market value to $11 billion. On sold 31.1 million shares in its initial public offering of stock, raising $746.4 million. The IPO came as running shoe sales are strong, as people spend more time exercising outdoors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, invested an undisclosed amount in the company in 2019, nine years after it was founded by running enthusiasts Olivier Bernhard, David Allemann, and Caspar Coppetti. The company has a 100 percent recyclable, subscription-only shoe brand, Cyclon, that is made from castor beans. Customers return them for new ones when they wear out.


Stock futures retreat after Thursday's gains

U.S. stock index futures edged lower early Thursday as Wall Street continued to struggle through a bumpy September. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by about 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures fell by 0.2 percent. All three of the main U.S. indexes rose on Thursday despite ongoing concerns about economic damage from the latest coronavirus surge being driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. The Dow gained 0.7 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up by just over 0.8 percent. Analysts said the second half of September is usually tough for stocks. "The wall of worry is becoming increasingly challenging to climb," said Mark Hackett, Nationwide's chief of investment research. 


U.N. chief warns of climate disaster without immediate, massive emissions cuts

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for "immediate, rapid, and large-scale" reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avert a climate disaster. Guterres said ahead of next week's U.N. General Assembly that fossil-fuel emissions, which dipped at the start of the pandemic, are picking up again, and climate change is occurring faster than predicted. Guterres, speaking at the release of a U.N.-backed report on efforts to prevent global warming, said no country was safe from climate disasters like Hurricane Ida, Europe's floods, or the Pacific Northwest's deadly heatwave. "These changes are just the beginning of worse to come" without "immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions" to limit global heating.


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