Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 29, 2021

Futures flat, Dow gains, S&P loses steam, Musk sells another $1 billion in Tesla shares, and more

1

Futures flat, Dow gains, S&P loses steam amid mixed COVID news

U.S. stock futures stayed roughly flat Wednesday morning, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90 points in its fifth consecutive day of gains. The S&P 500 saw a slight decline Tuesday after a four-day rise, and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.6 percent. Analysts say the market is resilient but uncertain in its response to mixed news about the COVID-19 pandemic. The record for daily coronavirus cases in the United States was broken Tuesday, but deaths are down compared to previous case record times as the apparently milder Omicron variant spread, and strict mitigation rules have mostly not been revived.

2

Musk sells another $1 billion in Tesla shares

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold another 934,090 shares in the company, valued around $1 billion, per filings published Tuesday. Musk has said on Twitter he intends to reduce his Tesla holdings by about 10 percent and has nearly reached that goal. Following this sale, he still owns an estimated 15.6 Tesla million shares, together valued around $16.4 billion, and has just purchased "1.6 million Tesla shares at a strike price of $6.24 per share, granted to him via a 2012 compensation package," CNBC reports. Musk, who is also CEO of SpaceX, is the world's wealthiest person, with an estimated worth of about $275 billion.

3

Forecast predicts surge, then drop in gas prices

A new forecast from price tracking app GasBuddy, reported Tuesday, predicts the national average gas price will rise from its present rate of $3.29 to peak in May at $3.79 before dropping to $3.01 by this time next year. "We could see a national average that flirts with, or in a worst-case scenario, potentially exceeds $4 a gallon," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN. "The economy is hot. Demand has come roaring back. But supply is still catching up after getting cut greatly in 2020."

4

Elizabeth Holmes jurors continue deliberations

Jurors in the fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes completed a fifth day of deliberation Tuesday without reaching a verdict. The jurors, who sat through 14 weeks of testimony, will continue their deliberation Wednesday. Other high-profile white-collar cases in recent years have seen deliberations of two weeks or longer. Holmes faces 11 criminal charges and could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison. She is accused of defrauding investors in her medical startup as well as patients who used its blood testing services.

5

LastPass denies claims of a breach

Password management service LastPass on Tuesday denied claims it had been hacked, saying compromises of its users' passwords likely stemmed from "third-party breaches related to other unaffiliated services." "It's important to note that, at this time, we do not have any indication that accounts were successfully accessed or that the LastPass service was otherwise compromised by an unauthorized party," the company said. Speculation about a LastPass breach began Monday, with users reporting illegitimate login attempts from multiple locations with a correct master password.

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