Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 20, 2021

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' debut smashes pandemic-era record, Manchin says he won't vote for spending bill in setback for Biden, and more

1

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' crushes expectations with a $253 million debut

Spider-Man: No Way Home smashed box office expectations over its debut weekend, bringing in $253 million in ticket sales at 4,336 North American theaters. It was by far the biggest opening weekend for any film since the coronavirus pandemic started. In an era when COVID-19 forces studios to release many films for streaming and theaters simultaneously, Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chair and CEO, said the Sony comic-book sequel's success reaffirmed "the unmatched cultural impact that exclusive theatrical films can have when they are made and marketed with vision and resolve." The new Spider-Man film is the first movie released during the pandemic to bring in more than $100 million in a weekend.

2

Manchin says he won't vote for Biden's spending proposal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Sunday he will not vote for President Biden's proposal to expand the social safety net with a roughly $2 trillion spending and tax bill. Manchin, a key centrist swing vote, has objected to the cost of the legislation, which also includes increased funding to fight climate change. The White House and leading congressional Democrats have been negotiating with Manchin to win his support, which they must have to push the bill through the evenly divided Senate. "I've tried everything humanly possible," he said on Fox News Sunday. "I can't get there. This is a no." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Manchin was reneging on a promise with his "sudden and inexplicable" reversal, noting that as recently as Tuesday he had pledged to work out a compromise with the White House that would cost about $1.85 trillion.

3

Goldman Sachs cuts economic growth forecast after Manchin's bombshell

Goldman Sachs cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth to 2 percent for the first quarter of 2022, down from 3 percent, after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced on Fox News Sunday that he would not vote for his party's $2 trillion Build Back Better domestic spending legislation. He sent an aide to let the White House and congressional leadership know less than a half an hour before going on air to drop his bombshell. Republican moderates who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure deal Manchin helped negotiate were thrilled with the news, but congressional Democrats and the White House were not. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) quickly released a new framework for a more narrowly focused Build Back Better plan.

4

Stock futures fall as Omicron concerns continue

U.S. stock futures fell sharply on Monday as investors continued to express concerns about economic fallout from a new coronavirus surge fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down more than 1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. The major averages fell last week as investors sold off growth stocks after the Federal Reserve announced plans to accelerate the tapering of its economy-boosting bond purchases, paving the way for faster interest rate hikes. In the latest coronavirus news, Moderna announced Monday that Omicron is resistant to its vaccine but a booster dose restores significant protection. A half dose increases antibody levels 37-fold, and a full 100-microgram dose increases them about 83-fold.

5

Musk says he'll pay $11 billion in 2021 taxes

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the world's richest person, tweeted on Sunday that he will pay $11 billion in 2021 taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Bloomberg News calculated that Musk will owe the IRS more than $10 billion on his taxes this year if he exercises all of his stock options that will expire in 2022. If the figures are accurate, it could be the largest individual payment the IRS has ever collected. Musk already has sold millions of Tesla shares to raise the money to cover his looming tax bill. Tesla shares have soared by more than 2,300 percent in the last five years. In November, Musk polled his Twitter followers to get their opinions on whether he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stake. Since then, Tesla's stock has fallen by nearly 25 percent.

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