Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 20, 2021

Stock futures plunge after Dow's third straight week of losses, Chinese version of TikTok limits children's use, and more

1

Stock futures dive after Dow's 3rd straight week of losses

U.S. stock index futures plunged early Monday, extending weeks of losses. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 1.4 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell by 1.2 percent and 1 percent, respectively. The declines came as Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped by 4 percent as fears about the fate of real-estate developer China Evergrande Group dragged down property stocks. The Dow has now fallen for three straight weeks for the first time since September 2020. Analysts blamed Wall Street's struggles on concerns about economic damage from the coronavirus surge driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, as well as uncertainty about the Federal Reserve's plans to taper asset purchases and other policies it has used to boost the economic recovery.

2

Chinese version of TikTok places limits on kids' use

TikTok parent company ByteDance plans to limit children's access to Douyin, the Chinese version of the short-video app, to 40 minutes a day. Douyin said in a blog post over the weekend that its "youth mode" would restrict use by people under age 14 to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Douyin introduced some limits as an optional feature in 2018, but made them mandatory to protect young users from harmful content. The company also said that its youngest users would get educational content, including science experiments and history lessons. Douyin appealed to parents to help with enforcement by making sure their kids were registered with their real ages. The changes followed a crackdown by the Chinese government on social media firms over alleged problems regarding data-security, labor, and competition.

3

Democrats say they might have to cut back $3.5 trillion spending bill

Congressional Democrats said Sunday that they probably would have to reduce the size of President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending bill. They can't afford to lose a single Democratic vote in the evenly divided Senate, and West Virginia moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin has said he would not vote for the bill unless it is scaled down considerably. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) might have to push passage of a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill beyond a Sept. 27 deadline so it can be passed alongside the bigger spending bill, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth said on Fox News Sunday. Both bills are critical parts of Biden's agenda, but face reluctance from some moderate Democrats and staunch opposition from Republicans.

4

Nabisco workers approve new contract, end strike

Nabisco workers overwhelmingly approved a new four-year contract with parent company Mondelez International, ending a strike that started Aug. 10. Mondelez said work would start back up this week at the three of its four bakeries where workers were on strike. Mondelez, which produces Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins, and other snacks, said in a statement that the new contract includes wage increases and higher 401(k) contributions. The new contract is retroactive to March 1. The strike, which started to protest proposed shift-time increases and overtime pay limits, added to supply crunches that have troubled food sellers during the coronavirus pandemic.

5

U.S. regulators reportedly open new inquiry into Takata airbag inflators

U.S. auto safety regulators have launched a new investigation into potentially defective Takata airbag inflators in 30 million vehicles produced by numerous automakers, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing a government document the news agency reviewed. The document said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began the engineering analysis on Friday and alerted the car makers, including Honda, Ford, Toyota, General Motors, Nissan, Subaru, Tesla, Nissan, Daimler, BMW, Chrysler, Porsche, and others. The companies either could not be reached or declined to comment, Reuters reported. Federal regulators also declined to comment.

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