Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 10, 2022

Canada truck blockade disrupts auto industry, the Biden administration details plan for EV charging stations along highways, and more

1

Canada truck blockade threatens auto industry

Canada's "Freedom Convoy" protests by truckers against coronavirus mandates could hurt the auto industry now that the demonstrations have spread and blocked key U.S.-Canada border crossings, the White House said Wednesday. The horn-blaring protesters have clogged Canada's capital, Ottawa, with idling trucks and other vehicles since late January, but this week truckers started obstructing border crossings, including one linking Windsor, Canada, with Detroit — a key supply route for automakers that carries 25 percent of all trade between the United States and Canada. Ford and Toyota said they were pausing or reducing production at several factories in Canada. General Motors canceled a Wednesday shift at a Lansing, Michigan, plant.

2

Biden administration unveils plan for EV-charging network

The Biden administration on Thursday outlined its plan to distribute $5 billion to states to roll out electric-vehicle charging stations along highways. The money was allocated by Congress in its $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which President Biden signed in November. The Biden administration is asking states to submit proposals on setting up the charging network for EVs, which are becoming increasingly popular and accounted for nearly 9 percent of global new-car sales last year. The U.S. lags Europe in charging infrastructure. The administration's plan won't be enough to catch up, but officials say it could encourage utilities and businesses to add their own chargers.

3

Pelosi says Democrats considering stock-trading ban for lawmakers

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that House Democrats were considering proposals to ban lawmakers from trading stocks while in office. Support for new rules has gained momentum since reports that some senators traded health care stocks just before the coronavirus crisis hit the United States, after they got private briefings on COVID-19. Pelosi initially opposed restricting lawmakers' stock trading, and said any new limits would have to be "government-wide," noting that the judiciary branch, including the Supreme Court, "has no reporting of stock transactions, and it makes important decisions every day." Pelosi in January asked the House Administration Committee to look into raising fines for lawmakers and staff who break existing stock-trading laws.

4

Stock futures mixed ahead of inflation data

U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Thursday ahead of key inflation data. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.1 percent at 7 a.m. ET thanks to a boost from Disney shares, which jumped by 8 percent in pre-market trading after the entertainment giant reported strong earnings. Futures for the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, ahead of Thursday's Consumer Price Index report, which is expected to show the key inflation measure hit a 40-year high in January. The Dow and the S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, on Wednesday. The Nasdaq surged by 2.1 percent as technology shares rebounded from a January sell-off.

5

California lawsuit accuses Tesla of discrimination

California on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Tesla accusing the electric-vehicle maker of discrimination and harassment against Black employees at its San Francisco Bay area factory. The suit came after hundreds of worker complaints, said Kevin Kish, head of the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The department said it "found evidence that Tesla's Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment," Kish said. Tesla did not release an immediate response, although it said in a Securities and Exchange Commission annual filing several days ago that the suit was coming.

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