Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 5, 2021

Biden administration says big firms have until Jan. 4 to impose vaccine mandate, more than 40 countries agree to phase out coal, and more

1

Big companies have until Jan. 4 to impose Biden vaccine mandate

The Biden administration said on Thursday that large companies will have until Jan. 4 to comply with President Biden's coronavirus vaccine requirement for their workers. Biden told the Labor Department in September to invoke its workplace-safety emergency powers to require companies with 100 or more employees to make vaccinations mandatory for their workers. Those who refuse to get the shots will have to submit to weekly testing. Many major corporations, including Tyson Foods and United Airlines, have already announced they are imposing mandates for their workers. Others have held off, waiting for final rules from the federal government. A Mercer poll of 1,088 companies found that as of Oct. 4, 13 percent of respondents were requiring vaccinations company-wide, and 11 percent were only doing it for those coming to the office.

2

Dozens of countries vow to phase out coal-fueled power plants

More than 40 countries at the United Nations' COP26 climate summit pledged Thursday to phase out the use of power plants fueled by coal, the single biggest contributor to climate change. The countries signing onto the deal included major coal users, including Poland, Vietnam, and Chile. Some of the world's biggest consumers of coal, including China and the United States, did not join in. "The end of coal is in sight," said Kwasi Kwarteng, the U.K.'s business and energy secretary, but critics said the coal pledge was "not a game-changer." The U.S. signed a separate deal backed by 20 countries committing to end public financing of "unabated" fossil-fuel projects, which don't capture CO2 emissions, abroad by the end of 2022. Several major banks agreed to stop funding new coal plants.

3

OPEC+ resists pressure and sticks to slow oil production hikes

OPEC and allied oil-producing countries on Thursday agreed to keep pushing a plan to slowly increase oil production despite surging fuel prices and pressure from President Biden to pump more crude to meet rising demand and lower gasoline prices. The OPEC+ alliance, which is led by Saudi Arabia and includes non-OPEC-members led by Russia, decided to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day in December, sticking with targets for increases every month into next year to gradually restore deep cuts made during the global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, Biden blamed rising oil prices on the reluctance of Russia and OPEC members to pump more oil.

4

Blue Origin loses lawsuit against NASA over lunar lander contract with SpaceX

A federal judge on Thursday ruled against Blue Origin's lawsuit over NASA's multi-billion-dollar moon lander contract awarded to Elon Musk's SpaceX earlier this year. Blue Origin, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' space-flight company, has been fighting for months for a piece of the project. NASA initially planned to award two contracts, but consolidated them when Congress allocated less funding than expected. The court battle threatened to delay NASA's plan to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972. Under the $2.9 billion contract, SpaceX will use its Starship rocket to carry astronauts to the moon in NASA's Artemis missions. Work on the lander was halted while the lawsuit was in court, but is scheduled to start again Monday.

5

Stock futures inch up ahead of jobs report

U.S. stock index futures edged higher early Friday as investors awaited the October jobs report. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures gained 0.6 percent. Economists expect the Labor Department to report that the economy added 450,000 jobs. The September report showed a gain of just 194,000 jobs, far below expectations of 500,000. The report is considered important because October was the first full month since enhanced pandemic-era unemployment benefits expired, Goldman Sachs' Chris Hussey wrote Thursday. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq continued winning steaks on Thursday, both closing at record highs.

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