The daily business briefing: November 22, 2021
Smash-and-grab looters hit Bay Area stores for third day, Austria starts new COVID lockdown as Europe confronts latest surge, and more
Smash-and-grab looters target Bay Area stores for 3rd day
Dozens of smash-and-grab thieves wielding hammers ransacked stores in San Jose, California, and the Southland Mall in Hayward on Sunday in the third straight day of looting targeting San Francisco Bay Area businesses. The looters singled out a Lululemon store in San Jose and witnesses said about 40 to 50 thieves rampaged through the Hayward mall, breaking glass and stealing merchandise from a jewelry store and a Macy's department store. Panicked shopkeepers closed nearby stores, and barricaded themselves inside. Hayward police said officers weren't able to make any arrests. It was not immediately clear if the Sunday spree was connected to robberies at a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco's Union Square on Friday and a Nordstrom's in Walnut Creek on Saturday.
Austria launches new COVID lockdown as Europe confronts surge
Austria launched a nationwide lockdown Monday to curb a new surge in coronavirus infections. Shoppers flocked to Christmas markets in Vienna on Sunday to get in some last-minute shopping. The lockdown requires people to stay home except for essential trips like buying groceries or going to the doctor. Restaurants and most shops must close. Big public events are canceled. The restrictions will last up to 20 days, but authorities will reevaluate in 10 days. The rest of Europe will be watching how things go in Austria as other governments in the region struggle to contain their own outbreaks. Many have already tightened restrictions. Protests have erupted in Austria, Holland, and Belgium over the new measures.
Supply-chain crunch easing but still far from normal
Global supply-chain bottlenecks are starting to clear, but deliveries probably won't return to normal until 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing manufacturing and retail executives. Major U.S. retailers say they have been able to stock most of the inventory they need for the crucial holiday shopping season. In Asia, problems blamed on the pandemic, including factory closures, power cuts, and port clogs, have started to ease. But strong consumer demand for imported goods in Western countries, along with U.S. port congestion, high freight rates, and an overloaded trucking network are delaying the return to a pre-pandemic normal, economists say.
Stock futures gain ahead of Thanksgiving-shortened week
U.S. stock futures rose early Monday at the start of a week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by more than 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. Stocks typically gain in Thanksgiving week, which ends with the kick-off of the start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday. One potential wild card this week will be President Biden's decision on the next Federal Reserve chair. Biden is expected to announce his pick within days. Current Chair Jerome Powell and Governor Lael Brainard are considered the favorites. A change could spark short-term volatility, said Jeff Schulze, ClearBridge Investments investment strategist. "Usually, the market tests a Fed chair," he said.
'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' leads weekend box office
Ghostbusters: Afterlife led the weekend box office with a solid $44 million in domestic ticket sales, slightly beating expectations but just below the $46 million debut of the previous 2016 reboot. Afterlife marked a renewed attempt to revive the franchise after 2016's Ghostbusters, with a team of female Ghostbusters led by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, ultimately grossed $229 million, a disappointing haul given it cost $144 million to make. Another of the weekend's new offerings, the acclaimed biopic King Richard, delivered an underwhelming $5.7 million, short of the $7 million to $10 million Warner Bros. was counting on. That film stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams. Smith is expected to be a contender for the best actor Oscar.