Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 24, 2021

The White House tells federal agencies to prepare for possible shutdown, CDC gives final approval to Pfizer booster for millions, and more

1

Federal agencies told to prepare for possible shutdown

The White House budget office on Thursday told federal agencies to prepare for a partial government shutdown in case negotiators in Congress fail to reach a funding deal. The request followed a tradition of getting ready to shut non-essential offices and services seven days before agencies run out of the money they need to stay open. Democrats and Republicans have said they plan to approve a stopgap spending measure before funding runs out on Sept. 30, but negotiators can't get past several sticking points. House Democrats this week approved a bill seeking to fund the government, suspend the debt ceiling, and expand disaster-relief funding, but Senate Republicans plan to oppose the effort to lift the debt ceiling. Democrats said they planned to take the House bill to the Senate so Republicans will have to go on record against it. 

2

CDC clears Pfizer booster shots for seniors, vulnerable people

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Thursday endorsed the Food and Drug Administration authorization to give Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine boosters to people 65 and older and people facing an elevated risk of infection and illness due to their jobs or medical conditions. In a rare move, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave final approval to broader eligibility recommended by the Food and Drug Administration, overruling a narrower booster plan recommended by the CDC's own advisers, who voted unanimously to make the third shot of the vaccine available to the elderly and residents of long-term care facilities. The CDC panel also recommended giving Pfizer boosters to people with underlying medical conditions making them more vulnerable to severe COVID-19, but only those ages 50 and up.

3

Stock futures struggle after two-day surge

U.S. stock index futures turned negative early Friday after the major averages surged for two straight days, rebounding from losses earlier in the week. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.2 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the S&P 500 fell by 0.3 percent, and those of the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by 0.5 percent. The Dow jumped by 1.5 percent on Thursday, its best day since July 20, after the Federal Reserve signaled that it was keeping its economy-boosting asset purchases in place for now, but could start tapering them soon if the recovery continues. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 1.2 percent and 1 percent, respectively. The three main averages fell sharply earlier in the week on concerns about the debt crisis at China real estate giant Evergrande, but many analysts now believe an Evergrande failure would have limited impact outside China.

4

Boppy recalls 3.3 million 'loungers' after 8 infant deaths

The Boppy Co. has recalled 3.3 million of its popular soft pillow "loungers" after eight babies died on them between 2015 and 2019, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday. The agency said infants can suffocate after moving into a position that obstructs their breathing. The products — Boppy Original Newborn Loungers, Boppy Preferred Newborn Loungers, and Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Loungers — are "simply too risky to remain on the market," Acting CPSC Chair Robert Adler said. The company noted that the lounger "was not marketed as an infant sleep product and includes warnings against unsupervised use." Boppy said it was "devastated to hear of these tragedies" and dedicated to "doing everything possible to safeguard babies," including educating parents about unsafe sleep practices for infants.

5

Volvo eliminating leather in its vehicles by end of decade

Volvo announced Thursday that it would eliminate leather in its vehicles to make its entire fleet vegan-friendly by 2030. With that timing the Swedish automaker, which is owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, would be completely leather-free as it completes its shift to making only electric vehicles. The elimination of leather would mark another step toward fighting climate change by helping to reduce negative impacts from cattle farming, including deforestation, the company said. The change also will make a statement against animal cruelty, Volvo added. "We've got a new generation of customers coming through, they're far more interested in the products they buy and having an ethical story behind them," Volvo head of design Robin Page told Reuters. "They want to understand where the materials come from."

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