Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 8, 2021

Stock futures rise after Pfizer says 3 vaccine doses provide protection against Omicron, American Airlines says CEO Doug Parker is retiring, and more

1

S&P 500, Nasdaq futures rise after Tuesday's big gains

U.S. stock futures rose early Wednesday after Pfizer said early tests indicated that three doses of the coronavirus vaccine it developed with BioNTech provide significant protection against the new Omicron variant. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by 0.5 percent at 7 a.m. ET. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average reversed earlier losses and were up by 0.4 percent as Wall Street continued a strong rebound from the recent Omicron sell-off. All three of the main U.S. indexes jumped on Tuesday after preliminary reports suggested the new variant causes less severe COVID-19 than the still-widespread Delta variant. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 2.1 percent and 3 percent, respectively, on Tuesday, their best days since March. The Dow rose by 1.4 percent.

2

American Airlines says CEO Doug Parker is retiring

American Airlines announced Tuesday that Doug Parker will retire as CEO in March. Robert Isom, the company's president, will take over, and Parker will remain chairman of the airline's board. Parker is the longest-serving U.S. airline chief executive, and one of the industry's most influential leaders. He oversaw consolidation, including American's 2013 merger with US Airways, which made airlines more profitable but limited options and raised fares for passengers. Isom will take charge as American tries to rebuild after huge losses caused by the pandemic. Parker is the latest in a series of airline leaders to retire this year. Southwest Airlines' Gary Kelly said in June that he was stepping down and being replaced by longtime executive Robert Jordan, and Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden was succeeded by Ben Minicucci in April.

3

Striking Kellogg workers reject proposed contract

The Kellogg Company announced Tuesday that a majority of its U.S. workers rejected a proposed five-year contract that would have hiked wages by 3 percent for long-serving employees, with smaller increases for newer hires based on years of service. The company has been using temporary hires to keep its four Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee cereal plants running since workers went on strike more than two months ago. Kellogg North America president Chris Hood said in a statement that the company's only option now is to start hiring permanent replacements for striking employees. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents the 1,400 striking employees, said it would continue providing "full support to our striking Kellogg's members." 

4

Publisher drops plan to release Chris Cuomo's book

Publisher HarperCollins announced Tuesday that it had dropped plans to publish ousted CNN host Chris Cuomo's book, originally titled Deep Denial. The book had been scheduled for release next year. HarperCollins had described it as "a provocative analysis of the harsh truths that the pandemic and Trump years have exposed about America — about our strength and our character — and a road map of the work needed to make our ideals match reality." The publisher's move came days after CNN fired Cuomo after new revelations about the extent to which he helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, counter sexual harassment allegations that ultimately forced him from office. CNN also received a sexual misconduct allegation against Chris Cuomo, which he has denied, dating to his time at another network. On Monday, Cuomo said he was ending his daily SiriusXM radio talk show.

5

Biden bank-regulator nominee withdraws under fire from Republicans

President Biden's nominee for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova, withdrew from Senate consideration on Tuesday after facing forceful opposition from Republican senators over her writings as a legal scholar. Some Republicans also were disturbed that the Cornell University scholar was raised in the former Soviet Union. "I don't know whether to call you professor or comrade," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said at her confirmation hearing. Biden condemned Republicans for what he described as "inappropriate personal attacks" that were unfair to Omarova and "far beyond the pale." Biden said Saule would have "brought invaluable insight" to the position overseeing the U.S. banking system because she is "a strong advocate for consumers and a staunch defender of the safety and soundness of our financial system."

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