Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 29, 2021

Stock futures rise after Friday's Omicron-driven sell-off, Moderna says Omicron vaccine could be ready in early 2022, and more

1

Stock futures rise after Omicron-fueled sell-off

U.S. stock futures rose early Monday, steadying after Friday's sell-off sparked by concerns about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by 1.1 percent. All three of the major U.S. indexes plunged by more than 2 percent on Friday. Over the weekend, companies held discussions on how to respond to the Omicron variant, and some investors' concerns eased as a public health official in South Africa described symptoms from Omicron variant infections as mild. Oil prices rose by $3 a barrel, recovering some of Friday's losses.

2

Moderna says Omicron-variant vaccine could be out in early 2022

Moderna could release a coronavirus vaccine adjusted to fight the Omicron variant by early 2022, the company's chief medical officer, Paul Burton, said Sunday. It was not immediately clear whether current forms of coronavirus vaccines would provide protection against the new variant, which was first detected in South Africa and has spread to numerous countries around the world. "We should know about the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection in the next couple of weeks, but the remarkable thing about the mRNA vaccines, the Moderna platform, is that we can move very fast," Burton said on BBC's Andrew Marr Show. "If we have to make a brand new vaccine I think that's going to be early 2022 before that's really going to be available in large quantities."

3

Online Black Friday sales edge down as shoppers return to stores

Online sales fell on Black Friday for the first time as shoppers returned to brick-and-mortar stores, according to a holiday shopping report by Adobe Analytics. U.S. online sales totaled $8.9 billion this year, inching down from $9 billion last year. Adobe Analytics said there were several reasons for the decline. Stores started promotions as early as October, shifting some purchases to the weeks before Black Friday. Supply-chain disruptions also played a role. Adobe reported that out-of-stock messages have jumped by 124 percent since January 2020, so many people who tried to buy were unable to find the products they wanted. In-store traffic was up compared to 2020, but remained 28 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

4

Nissan announces $17.6 billion investment in EV batteries

Nissan said Monday it would invest $17.6 billion in developing a cheaper and more powerful electric-vehicle battery over five years. CEO Makoto Uchida said the Japanese automaker would offer 15 new electric vehicles by 2030 as it aims for 50 percent "electrification" of its lineup, including hybrids and other greener vehicles as well as EVs. Nissan also aims to reduce carbon emissions at its factories. The company is focusing on efforts to become more climate-friendly as it struggles to recover from the scandal of its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn's arrest in Tokyo in 2018 on financial misconduct charges.

5

Fashion designer Virgil Abloh dies of cancer at 41

Trailblazing Black fashion designer Virgil Abloh died Sunday in Chicago after battling a rare cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma for two years. He was 41. Abloh was the first Black artistic director of Louis Vuitton men's wear. The Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury group bought a majority stake in his Off-White brand this year. Before founding his streetwear fashion house in 2013, Abloh left his mark on the music scene as artistic director for Jay-Z and Kanye West's 2011 album Watch The Throne. He was a frequent collaborator with West since the days they worked together as interns at Fendi in 2009. He also collaborated with companies and artists that included Nike, Levi, Jimmy Choo, Moncler, Dr. Martens, Champion, Rihanna, and Beyoncé.

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