Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 25, 2022

Stock turmoil continues after S&P 500 briefly falls into correction territory, Ford cuts off orders of Maverick pickups, and more

1

U.S. stocks bounced back from early Monday plunge, but volatility continues

Markets fell dramatically early Monday but rallied later in the day, closing with modest gains. The S&P 500 fell briefly into correction territory, defined as 10 percent below its recent high, but closed up by 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, its first positive day in seven. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 4.9 percent early Monday but ended the day up by 0.6 percent. Some analysts predicted that the market turbulence could continue as investors brace for more fallout from the Omicron coronavirus wave and rising interest rates. JPMorgan strategist Marko Kolanovic said the "recent pullback in risk assets appears overdone, and … we could be in the final stages of this correction." U.S. stock futures fell early Tuesday.

2

Ford stops taking orders for Maverick pickups, citing high demand

Ford is cutting off orders for its new Maverick pickup because of overwhelming demand. The company told dealers in a memo Monday that it would resume taking orders for the 2023 Maverick this summer. "We didn't want to take more orders than we could build," Dean Stoneley, general manager of Ford trucks, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. "We're getting customers who would have perhaps bought a used car and are now buying the Maverick because it is so affordable." Prices for the Maverick start at about $20,000. Ford unveiled the new pickup last fall, as car prices were broadly rising.

3

Biden administration's free N95 masks begin arriving at pharmacies

The first free N95 masks sent out by the Biden administration started arriving in pharmacies around the country on Monday. The administration is distributing the high-quality masks as part of an effort to increase protection and testing to help slow the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is fueling a wave of new COVID-19 cases. The arrival of the first of 400 million N95 masks the government is providing for the public came as free COVID-19 tests are arriving through the mail to people who ordered them. "Last week masks began shipping and arriving at pharmacies and grocers around [the] country. We expect that throughout the week the number of stores and N95s arriving to scale up significantly," an administration official said.

4

Fed leaders head into 2-day meeting expected to signal March rate hike

Federal Reserve policymakers on Tuesday start a two-day meeting that analysts expect to end Wednesday with a signal that the central bank plans to raise interest rates in March to fight high inflation. The Fed is expected to indicate that it plans to start tapering the asset purchases that, along with near-zero interest rates, it has been using to support the recovery from the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The expectations of higher interest rates have roiled stocks recently, dragging down shares of tech companies and other high-growth stocks expected to be hit hardest by higher borrowing costs. U.S. Treasury yields rose early Tuesday ahead of the start of the Fed meeting.

5

Unilever unveils plan to cut 1,500 management jobs

Consumer goods giant Unilever on Tuesday said it would cut about 1,500 management jobs globally as it restructures in response to investor jitters over its failed $67 billion bid to acquire GlaxoSmithKline's consumer healthcare business. Unilever, which makes products from Dove soap to Magnum ice cream, has about 149,000 employees. The company said it would re-organize itself by creating five divisions focused on beauty and wellbeing, personal care, home care, nutrition, and ice cream, resulting in management-chain changes. "Moving to five category-focused business groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery," Unilever CEO Alan Jope said. 

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