Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 11, 2022

Biden administration tells insurers to cover COVID tests, greenhouse-gas emissions drive record ocean warming, and more

1

Biden administration to require insurers to cover COVID tests

The Biden administration said Monday that private health insurers will be required to cover the costs for up to eight home COVID-19 tests a month for every person on their plans, starting Saturday. The administration is offering incentives for insurers and group health plans to partner with specific retailers so members can get tests with no upfront costs, but everyone with private insurance will be able to get reimbursed for tests purchased Jan. 15 or later. The federal government is launching a website later this month to distribute 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests via mail, another part of the administration's effort to increase testing to help curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

2

Greenhouse-gas emissions warm oceans to record level

An analysis published Tuesday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences found that in 2021, oceans contained the most heat energy since measurements started six decades ago, due to human-emitted greenhouse gases. Oceans have warmed eight times faster since the late 1980s than they did in previous decades. "When you have this long-term upward trend, you're getting records broken almost every year," said John Abraham, a co-author of the study and a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Each decade has been warmer than the last since 1958. Scientists say the warming waters contribute to rising air temperatures and extreme weather events such as hurricanes and December's unusual flurry of tornadoes.

3

Lawsuit accuses top universities of considering financial need in admissions

Five former university students filed a lawsuit in Illinois federal court Sunday accusing 16 major U.S. universities of antitrust violations, arguing that they engaged in price-fixing and limited financial aid by colluding on a formula to calculate need, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The plaintiffs said the schools illegally used a shared formula that took students' financial need into account when calculating financial aid packages. Federal law permits universities to share methodologies, but only if they do not allow financial need to affect admissions decisions. A spokeswoman for Yale University said the school's financial aid policy is "100 percent compliant with all applicable laws." The other defendants either declined to comment or did not respond to the Journal's inquiries.

4

Stock futures rise after Nasdaq snaps losing streak

U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday after the Nasdaq shook off early losses to break a four-day losing streak on Monday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by 0.5 percent ahead of a Senate hearing on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's confirmation to a second term. Senators are expected to question Powell on inflation and the Fed's plan to speed up interest-rate hikes to counter it. The Nasdaq closed up by less than 0.1 percent on Monday after rebounding from early losses. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell by 0.5 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

5

Fed vice chair is latest to step down in trading scandal

Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said Monday that he would resign on Friday. The announcement came after fresh details emerged about February 2020 stock-fund trades he made as the Fed was discussing measures to bolster the economy as the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. The New York Times reported that Clarida amended financial disclosures last month to show that he had sold and repurchased shares in the stock fund within days. He had previously reported the purchases, which occurred a day before Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled that the central bank would step in to boost the economy. Clarida is the third Fed official to step down over trades involving potential conflicts of interest.

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