The daily business briefing: November 9, 2021
DOJ seizes $6 million from ransomware attack, Pfizer seeks booster approval for all adults, and more
DOJ charges Ukrainian national over ransomware attack
The Justice Department announced Monday that federal prosecutors had charged a Ukrainian national, Yaroslav Vasinskyi, with deploying the REvil ransomware against an American company in July. Vasinskyi was arrested in Poland last month. The Justice Department also said it had seized $6 million in ransom payments. Vasinskyi, 22, allegedly spearheaded the attack over the Fourth of July weekend against Florida-based software firm Kaseya, infecting up to 1,500 businesses around the world, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. Another alleged REvil operative, Russian national Yevgeniy Polyanin, faces several charges alongside Vasinskyi, including conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Report: Pfizer, BioNTech to seek booster authorization for all adults
Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to request authorization for giving their coronavirus vaccine booster shot to anyone 18 or older, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing three officials familiar with the matter. The individuals said the application could come as soon as this week, and the Food and Drug Administration was likely to support it. Approval would help the Biden administration meet the goal announced in August to make boosters available to all adults as concerns mount over waning protection from initial vaccinations. Pfizer spokesperson Kit Longley declined to confirm the report. The summertime surge fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant has subsided, but there are still more than 70,000 new U.S. cases and more than 1,000 deaths daily.
Quarles to step down as Fed governor at end of year
Randal Quarles announced Monday that he plans to resign from the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors when he finishes his four-year term at the end of 2021. Quarles had broad authority over the banking system as the Fed's first vice chair of supervision. His deregulatory approach sparked criticism from progressives and resistance to the potential for a second term for Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who has backed Quarles on regulatory changes. Quarles' departure gives President Biden three vacancies to fill on the board. Biden also is expected to decide this month whether to offer Powell a second four-year term leading the central bank. Biden is considered likely to keep Powell in the job, although he could instead pick Lael Brainard, the only Democrat on the Fed's seven-member board.
Stock futures little changed after latest records
U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Tuesday following the latest records for the three major averages. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by less than 0.1 percent, while those linked to the S&P 500 were up by a similar percentage. Nasdaq futures gained 0.2 percent. Wall Street got a boost Monday from infrastructure stocks that gained after Congress approved a $1 trillion bipartisan plan to upgrade the nation's roads, rails, bridges, ports, and internet. The Dow rose Monday by 0.3 percent to hit its 44th record close of 2021. The S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent to close above 4,900, a first. The Nasdaq rose 0.1 percent for its 44th record close of the year after an 11-day winning streak, its longest since December 2019.
42 countries pledge to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from health systems
The United States and 41 other countries have pledged to cut carbon emissions from their health-care systems, World Health Organization officials said late Monday. "This announcement is huge," said Josh Karliner, the international director of program and strategy at Health Care Without Harm, a nonprofit working on curbing the health sector's environmental impact. Twelve of the countries that committed to lowering their health industries' greenhouse emissions have vowed to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050. Nearly five percent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from the health sector. Many of the pledges have not been translated into concrete plans to cut pollution. Delegates at the United Nations COP26 climate summit have increased the focus on public health compared to past meetings.