The daily business briefing: December 22, 2021
Biden vows to work with Manchin to 'get something done' on spending plan, Kellogg workers approve deal to end strike, and more
Biden promises to work with Manchin to 'get something done'
President Biden vowed Tuesday that he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would work out their differences on a major spending package to expand the social safety net and fight climate change. Manchin this week said he couldn't support Biden's $2 trillion Build Back Better proposal, effectively killing it just days after offering a counterproposal that reportedly came in around $1.8 trillion. Democrats need Manchin's vote, along with every other Democrat's, to pass the measure in the 50-50 Senate. Biden told reporters at the White House that he didn't hold a grudge against Manchin, and would keep working with the more conservative Democrat to push through policies that would help families and lift people out of poverty. "Sen. Manchin and I are going to get something done," Biden said.
Kellogg workers approve contract ending 11-week strike
Kellogg workers voted on Tuesday to ratify a tentative labor contract, ending a strike at four cereal plants that began in early October. The contract covers about 1,400 employees at Kellogg plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee who are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union. Union president Anthony Shelton said the agreement "makes gains and does not include concessions." Kellogg said the contract gives all workers immediate wage increases and cost of living adjustments, as well as a faster and clearer track to higher wages for new hires. Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane said the employees will go back to work on Monday. The company had hired outside workers to help keep the plants operating during the strike.
Biden considers lifting travel ban imposed to slow Omicron's arrival
President Biden said Tuesday that he is considering lifting a month-old travel ban he imposed on foreign travelers arriving from South Africa and seven other southern African countries to slow the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa. Omicron has since surpassed Delta as the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States. "Remember why I said we put the travel ban on. It was to see how much time we had before it hit here," Biden said. "But we're past that now." He said the federal government would distribute 500 million free at-home COVID-19 tests under a campaign to contain Omicron. New cases have fallen in South Africa, suggesting Omicron infections might have peaked there.
Stock futures struggle after Tuesday's rally
U.S. stock futures were mixed early Wednesday after Tuesday's big gains snapped a three-day losing streak. The earlier losses were fueled by concerns about potential economic fallout from the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.1 percent while those of the S&P 500 were flat at 6:30 a.m. ET. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.1 percent. All three of the main U.S. indexes surged on Tuesday. The Dow gained 1.6 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq jumped by 1.8 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. Travel-related stocks outperformed the rest of the market, with Delta and United airlines rising by 5.9 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively, and Carnival cruise line jumping by 8.7 percent.
Walgreens, CVS limit at-home COVID test purchases as demand spikes
Walgreens and CVS said Tuesday they are limiting purchases of at-home COVID-19 testing kits due to a surge in demand as the Omicron coronavirus variant spreads quickly across the United States. The nation's two largest pharmacy chains have seen some stores run out of the tests in recent days. "To ensure equitable access to tests both in store and digitally, we've added a limit of six test kits per purchase," CVS said in a statement. CVS has more than 9,900 U.S. stores, although nearly 10 percent are scheduled to be closed over the next three years. Walgreens asked customers for patience as "we continue to navigate the evolving pandemic environment," Walgreens President John Standley said.