Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 21, 2021

Futures edge down after strong earnings lift the Dow to a record high, the FDA OKs Moderna and J&J coronavirus boosters, and more

1

Futures edge down after Dow closes at record high

U.S. stock index futures fell slightly early Thursday after the Dow Jones Industrial climbed to a record high Wednesday with a boost from strong corporate earnings. Futures tied to the Dow and the S&P 500 were down by 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the Nasdaq fell by 0.2 percent. The Dow gained 0.4 percent on Wednesday to close at an all-time high. The S&P 500 rose by about 0.4 percent, closing 0.2 percent below its record high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down by less than 0.1 percent. Investors have been closely watching third-quarter earnings season for signs of the impact of supply-chain disruptions. Eighty-six percent of the 70 S&P 500 companies reporting so far have beaten analysts' expectations, according to Refinitiv. 

2

FDA OKs Moderna and J&J boosters, plus mix-and-match shots

The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it was authorizing the emergency use of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine boosters. The decision will make most fully vaccinated adults eligible for another shot to increase their protection against infection and severe COVID-19 after a recommended waiting period. The FDA also said people could get a booster made by a different company than the one that made their initial vaccine. "The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against Covid-19 disease," said acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster was approved previously for certain groups, including the elderly and those facing elevated risk. The decisions promised to help the Biden administration pursue its push to make boosters widely available.

3

Trump announces financial backing for his own social media platform

Former President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he has lined up investment money to launch a publicly-traded social media company and a new app, "Truth Social." Trump said the app would start an invite-only trial run in November and roll out nationwide in 2022. His investing partner is Digital World Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) incorporated in Miami in December 2020. Trump, who was banned by Facebook and Twitter after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and his investors said the venture's purpose is "to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the 'Big Tech' companies of Silicon Valley." But Axios said the "bottom line" is that "there are not yet enough details to suggest that this deal has much legitimacy."

4

Tesla reports biggest quarterly profit ever

Tesla on Wednesday reported its biggest quarterly profit ever thanks to record electric vehicle sales over the summer despite a global shortage of computer chips. Tesla said its third-quarter net income reached $1.62 billion, smashing its previous record of $1.14 billion set the previous quarter. Tesla's $331 million profit in this year's third quarter was nearly five times its profit in the same period last year. Revenue reached $13.76 billion, which also marked a record although it fell short of the $14 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet. Tesla said it aimed to expand its factory capacity quickly and see sales grow by 50 percent annually over the next few years.

5

Protesters criticize Netflix over Dave Chappelle's special

Protesters gathered at a Netflix office in California on Wednesday, two weeks after the streamer's release of comedian Dave Chappelle's controversial new standup special. Hundreds of employees and activists attended the rally outside Netflix's headquarters in Los Angeles to criticize the streaming video service for releasing Chappelle's latest special The Closer, in which Chappelle says he's "team TERF," meaning "trans-exclusionary radical feminist," among other comments and jokes about the LGBTQ community. Netflix staffers also planned a virtual walkout over the company's response to the backlash. The rally also drew Chappelle supporters, including one holding a sign that read "Netflix Don't Cancel Free Speech."

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