The daily business briefing: October 11, 2021
Southwest cancels 1,800 flights over the weekend, Merck asks the FDA for to authorize COVID pill for emergency use, and more
Southwest cancels 1,800 flights over weekend
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights over the weekend, blaming the disruptions on bad weather and air traffic control issues. About 1,000 of those flights were scrapped on Sunday, amounting to 30 percent of the airline's schedule. The Federal Aviation Administration attributed the cancellations to staffing shortages. Southwest said the problems started with an "FAA-imposed air traffic management program" on Friday, and were compounded by severe weather in the same region. The FAA said there were only a "few hours" of delays on Friday due to weather and staffing problems at the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center, which controls airspace in parts of the South. Other airlines did not have widespread flight cancellations.
Merck requests emergency-use authorization for COVID pill
Merck said Monday it had asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorization for its experimental antiviral COVID-19 treatment, molnupiravir. The drug, which Merck developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, will be the first oral antiviral treatment for the coronavirus if it's approved. The drug maker said it was seeking authorization to use the capsules to treat adults who are infected and face an elevated risk of severe COVID-19 or hospitalization. The company made the application to the FDA after a study that was stopped at the interim point because the drug appeared to be delivering clear benefits. "At the interim analysis, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50 percent," the company said in a statement.
'No Time to Die' trails other recent Bond films
The latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, brought in $56 million in the United States and Canada over its debut weekend, falling short of the last two installments in the Bond franchise after the coronavirus pandemic delayed its release for more than a year. Most U.S. cinemas have reopened, although some still have COVID-19 policies that limit attendance and many moviegoers still feel more comfortable streaming video at home rather than risking infection by going out. United Artists Releasing, which distributes Bond movies for its studio, MGM Holdings, surveyed audiences in six cities and found that about one-quarter of people who saw No Time to Die hadn't been to a theater in 18 months. "You have to get them used to coming back," said Erik Lomis, president of distribution at United Artists Releasing.
Facebook unveils options for supervising teen Instagram use
Facebook's vice president for global affairs, Nick Clegg, unveiled new controls aiming to help parents supervise teens' use of the company's Instagram platform. Clegg outlined the plans in a series of appearances on Sunday news talk shows following a week of testimony by a whistleblower who told lawmakers that Facebook prioritized profits over shielding young users and others from harmful and misleading content. "We cannot, with a wave of the wand, make everyone's life perfect," Clegg said on CNN's State of the Union. "What we can do is improve our products." Josh Golin, executive director of the watchdog organization Fairplay, said there was "tremendous reason to be skeptical" about Facebook's efforts until research shows its methods to protect teens work.
Stock futures fall slightly
U.S. stock index futures edged lower early Monday in a sign of investor concern about surging energy prices. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.2 percent, while those of the S&P 500 were down by 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 0.5 percent. The movement came as prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude oil, rose by more than 2 percent to $81 per barrel. A new economic forecast by Goldman Sachs also increased pressure on stocks. The investment bank cut its growth forecast for 2022 from 4.4 percent to 4 percent, and shaved its estimate for 2021 from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent, citing the expiration of Congress' support for the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and a slower-than-expected rebound in consumer spending.