Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 19, 2021

A House committee threatens to investigate Amazon's dominance, the FDA prepares to approve "mix-and-match" COVID boosters, and more

1

House committee threatens to investigate Amazon's market dominance

U.S. House lawmakers on Monday sent a letter to Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy threatening to call for a criminal investigation of the e-commerce giant. A panel of the House Judiciary Committee that has investigated Big Tech market dominance gave Amazon a "final chance" to correct testimony company executives have given on Amazon's competition practices. The letter said the antitrust subcommittee was considering referring the case to the Justice Department, accusing the company of misleading Congress. The letter, signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the antitrust panel, cites Amazon's alleged undercutting of businesses that sell on its platform with "knock-offs" of their products. Amazon denied its executives' testimony to lawmakers was misleading.

2

Reports: FDA to approve 'mix-and-match' COVID boosters

The Food and Drug Administration plans to let people get a coronavirus booster that is different from their initial vaccine, according to Monday news reports that cited officials familiar with the matter. The move could come as early as this week. The FDA won't recommend any booster over others, the officials said, and will urge people to get a booster from the company that made their initial vaccine when possible. State health officials have been requesting freedom to give "mix-and-match" vaccines. A federally funded study released Friday found that antibody levels increased 76-fold over 15 days in recipients of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose shot who received a Moderna booster. Similar patients who got the J&J booster got a four-fold antibody increase.

3

Apple announces latest AirPods, MacBook Pros

Apple on Monday unveiled the latest versions of its AirPods wireless earbuds, MacBook Pro laptops, and HomePod Mini Speakers at a virtual event. The new AirPods, priced at $179, have a design mirroring the more expensive AirPods Pro, with shorter stalks. Apple also gave them improved speakers and longer battery life, with six hours of listening time. The highly anticipated new MacBook Pros mark the biggest change to the tech giant's top laptop line since 2012. They have bigger screens, at 14.2 and 16.2 inches, and high-end M1 Pro and M1 Max chips as the company continues its shift from Intel to chips of Apple's own design. The company also announced a $5 per month subscription to Apple Music called Voice that works only with Siri, an apparent attempt to compete with Amazon Music's $4 single-device subscription.

4

Stock futures rise slightly ahead of more earnings reports

U.S. stock index futures edged higher early Tuesday ahead of a big day of corporate earnings reports. Futures tied to the S&P 500 were up by about 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq gained 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. On Monday, the S&P 500 rose by 0.3 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped by 0.8 percent, fueled by gains for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google-parent Alphabet. The Dow fell by 0.1 percent, weighed down by Disney's 3 percent plunge. Third-quarter earnings season, which has been strong so far, continues Tuesday with reports by Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Netflix, and United Airlines.

5

German newspaper removes top editor after report on sex with employee

Germany's Bild newspaper on Monday ousted its editor in chief, Julian Reichelt, a day after The New York Times published a report on his relationship with a trainee. The Times article said the woman testified that Reichelt told her to meet him in a hotel near the paper's office for sex, and urged her to keep silent about a payment. After Reichelt's removal, the newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported on allegations that Reichelt abused his position seeking relationships with other staffers. Reichelt's ouster came after the center-right tabloid defended his actions for months. The scandal had sparked pressure for information on an internal investigation from Bild's parent company, Axel Springer, which stepped up a push into the U.S. this summer by acquiring Politico for $1 billion.

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