Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 30, 2021

The Senate prepares to vote on averting a government shutdown, YouTube cracks down on vaccine misinformation, and more

1

Senate to vote on deal aiming to avert shutdown

The Senate has reached a deal to avert a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced late Wednesday ahead of a Thursday morning vote. The House is expected to sign off after the Senate vote. If the measure passes it will keep federal agencies from running out of money at midnight. Democrats separated proposals to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government into two bills on Wednesday, hoping to get at least the spending bill passed. Some Republicans are expected to support the government-funding bill, which also includes emergency disaster aid, but they have refused to back any Democratic attempt to raise the debt ceiling. Democrats also scrambled to work out internal differences over the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion spending bill seeking to expand the social safety net.

2

YouTube cracks down on content spreading misleading vaccine information

YouTube is banning content that spreads misleading or false information about coronavirus vaccines, the streaming video service announced in a blog post Wednesday. Under the crackdown, YouTube is taking down video channels associated with high-profile anti-vaccine activists, including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Experts say misinformation from these channels is partly to blame for weak vaccination rates. "This is not one that should have been complicated," said Hany Farid, a computer science professor and misinformation researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. "We had 18 months to think about these issues, we knew the vaccine was coming, why was this not the policy from the very beginning?"

3

Fed chair says high inflation could last longer than once thought

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that recent higher inflation might persist longer than the central bank previously thought, although Fed officials still expect it to fade eventually. So-called core prices that exclude volatile food and energy categories jumped by 3.6 percent in July compared to a year earlier, driven by rising coronavirus vaccination rates and nearly $2.8 trillion in federal spending approved since December. The price increases came as disrupted supply chains struggled to increase in the sudden recovery in demand as the economy reopened. "That is all associated with the reopening of the economy, which is a process that will have a beginning, middle and an end," Powell said in a moderated discussion hosted by the European Central Bank.

4

Stock futures rise as Nasdaq struggles to shake losing streak

U.S. stock index futures rose early Thursday after tech stocks extended their losses Wednesday due to surging bond yields that have hurt tech stocks by threatening their future cash flows. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by about 0.7 percent several hours before the opening bell. The Dow and the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, on Wednesday, snapping a two-day losing streak. But the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 0.2 percent, leaving it down by 4 percent on the week. "This is a normal re-pricing of risk based on a higher cost of capital and greater market uncertainty," Wells Fargo said Wednesday in a note to clients.

5

Dollar Tree to add $1-plus items as costs rise

Dollar Tree plans to start adding more products priced at $1.25 and $1.50, raising prices above $1 in some of its stores as a tight job market and high inflation push up costs, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The discount retailer's chief executive, Michael Witynski, told the Journal that the $1-plus price point will allow the company to add slightly more expensive products, such as frozen meats, that could increase what the average shopper spends during each visit. All stores with Dollar Tree Plus sections will get the higher-priced items. "We recognize the need to make adjustments in the current economic environment," Witynski said, including "the pressure all of us are seeing on wages, freight, and on our suppliers and cost increases."

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