Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 28, 2021

Airlines cancel more flights due to weather and coronavirus, New York City's vaccine mandate on businesses takes effect, and more

1

Airlines cancel more flights as COVID limits crews

Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights on Monday due to winter storms and a coronavirus surge fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The latest cancellations brought the total number of flights to, from, or within the United States to more than 4,000 since Christmas Eve on Friday, according to FlightAware, which tracks flight cancellations. Delta, United, JetBlue, and American have said in recent days that they've had to trim their schedules due to staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 surge. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's top medical adviser, said that requiring vaccinations for air travel might encourage more people to get vaccinated and help curb infections.

2

New York vaccine mandate on businesses takes effect

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday launched the nation's broadest vaccine mandate on private businesses. Under the policy, all employers in the city must verify that in-person workers have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. If in-person workers got the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, they must provide proof they got the second dose within 45 days. De Blasio, who is in his last week as mayor, said he was "100 percent convinced this was the right thing to do." It was not immediately clear what his successor, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, would do about the mandate. Some business leaders have said the city should give workers the option of taking regular COVID-19 tests instead of getting the shots.

3

Stock futures rise slightly after S&P 500's latest record

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Tuesday after the S&P 500's latest record high. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by 0.5 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq jumped by 1.4 percent on Monday as trading resumed following the three-day Christmas weekend. The Dow gained 1 percent. Wall Street struggled in November after the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant raised concerns of economic fallout from the new strain. Shares have bounced back as governments declined to impose new lockdowns, clearing the way for what investors hope will be a so-called "Santa rally" to end the year, which has seen the S&P 500 gain 27 percent.

4

News audiences shrink in 2021 without 2020's hot stories 

Viewership plunged at cable news networks and other outlets in 2021 as major issues that fueled intense interest in 2020 faded, The Associated Press reported Monday, citing Nielsen data. Weekday prime-time ratings fell by 38 percent at CNN, 34 percent at Fox News Channel, and 25 percent at MSNBC without audience-grabbing issues such as the presidential election and frequent racial justice protests. Broadcast television evening newscasts also saw their audiences shrink. ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News saw their viewership fall by 12 percent. NBC's Nightly News dropped by 14 percent. Comscore reported that unique visitors to the websites of The Washington Post and The New York Times were down by 44 percent and 34 percent, respectively, in November, compared to November 2020.

5

Riot Games agrees to $100 million gender discrimination settlement

Video-game maker Riot Games announced Monday that it had agreed to pay $100 million to settle a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit filed in 2018 that covers more than 2,000 current and former female employees. The settlement initially was set for $10 million, but two California employment agencies last year blocked it, saying the women should get far more. The state separately was investigating claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, unequal pay, and retaliation against women at Riot, which is behind League of Legends, Valorant, and other popular titles. Under the agreement, more than 1,000 full-time employees and 1,300 contractors would split $80 million. The rest would cover costs, including lawyers' fees. Riot also would fund a diversity and inclusion program.

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