Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 22, 2021

DOJ files antitrust lawsuit over American-JetBlue alliance, companies express opposition to Texas abortion law, and more

1

DOJ files antitrust lawsuit over American, JetBlue alliance

The Justice Department and six states filed an antitrust lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to block an alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue, arguing it could reduce competition and drive up fares in New York and Boston. DOJ said the "Northeast Alliance" amounted to a "de facto merger" that would cost travelers hundreds of millions of dollars. "Fewer flights. More expensive tickets. Lower quality service," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. "Plain and simple: American Airlines and JetBlue's Northeast Alliance is anticompetitive." Both companies said they would fight to preserve the partnership, saying it had lowered fares. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said the complaint was "plain wrong," because the alliance had allowed JetBlue to increase the number of flights to New York airports, increasing consumer choice.

2

Companies say Texas abortion law threatens worker, customer health

Dozens of businesses, including ride-hailing service Lyft, cloud-storage firm Box, and online fashion service Stitch Fix, signed a statement released Tuesday voicing opposition to Texas' new law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The employers said "restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our workers and customers." The statement came after many companies debated for weeks how to respond to the restrictions passed by the Republican-led legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Many companies, including Starbucks and Microsoft, declined to sign the letter. The law bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, making the procedure illegal before most women know they're pregnant.

3

House passes stopgap bill aiming to prevent shutdown

The House on Tuesday passed legislation seeking to raise the debt limit and avert a potential government shutdown by funding the government through Dec. 3. No Republicans joined the Democratic majority in the 220-211 vote. Senate Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to beat a GOP filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said Republicans wouldn't help Democrats raise the debt ceiling. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the debt limit was a "phony issue," because it merely lets the federal government pay bills Congress has approved. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said allowing a government shutdown would be "catastrophic" for American families. House Republicans said the bill would provide a blank check for "socialist" programs.

4

Stock futures rise ahead of Fed statement

U.S. stock futures rose early Wednesday ahead of a statement by the Federal Reserve at the end of a two-day policy-makers' meeting. Investors will watch the statement for the Fed's economic and interest rate forecasts. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.6 percent several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures gained 0.4 percent. The Dow and the S&P 500 closed down by about 0.1 percent on Tuesday, after rebounding from Monday's losses early in the day but turning lower later in the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose by 0.2 percent on Tuesday. Wall Street's struggles came as global markets were dragged down by the possible default of Chinese property developer Evergrande.

5

U.S. to donate 500 million more Pfizer doses to other countries

President Biden is expected to announce Wednesday that the federal government would buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to donate to poorer nations with limited supply. The pledge brings the number of vaccine doses the United States has pledged to donate to 1.1 billion. Biden plans to unveil the arrangement in remarks at the start of a virtual summit on increasing commitments from other nations and companies to help get 70 percent of the world's population vaccinated against the coronavirus within a year, which would require 5 billion doses for low- and middle-income countries. "The challenge now is timing and delivery," said Carolyn Reynolds, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network.

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