Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 11, 2022

Consumer prices rise at fastest pace in 40 years, a Canadian mayor seeks court order to remove protesters blocking border, and more

1

Consumer prices jumped more than expected in January

The U.S. consumer price index rose by 7.5 percent in January compared to a year earlier, the fastest pace in 40 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday. The increase was higher than the 7.2 percent jump economists had expected, as the key inflation gauge showed that prices jumped by 0.6 percent in January alone. "Increases in the indexes for food, electricity, and shelter were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase," the report said. The data provided more evidence that high inflation is not going to quickly ease with the recovery from the coronavirus crisis, and increased expectations that the Federal Reserve will aggressively raise interest rates starting in March to keep the economy from overheating and bring down inflation.

2

Canadian mayor requests court order to clear border crossing

Windsor, Ontario, Mayor Drew Dilkens said at a Thursday news conference that the Canadian city was seeking a court order to remove so-called Freedom Convoy demonstrators who are blocking most traffic at a crucial U.S.-Canada border crossing. For four days, truckers and others protesting coronavirus rules, including vaccine and mask mandates, have been using dozens of vehicles to disrupt traffic across the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit. About 30 percent of annual U.S.-Canada trade passes through the crossing, and the disruption of traffic has forced auto plants on both sides of the border to pause or reduce production. "The economic harm that this occupation is having on international trade is not sustainable and it must come to an end," Dilkens said.

3

Rocket startup Astra's shares plunge after failed satellite mission

Shares of rocket startup Astra Space fell 26 percent on Thursday after its latest mission failed to reach orbit with four tiny NASA-funded satellites onboard. Astra's 3.3 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but its second-stage booster tumbled out of control instead of breaking off smoothly as the rocket started its trip deeper into orbit. A successful mission would have helped Astra join a growing number of private companies competing to offer cheaper options for sending satellites into space. The failure marked a significant setback for Astra, which reached orbit for the first time with its LV0007 rocket launched from Alaska three months ago, and for institutions that were planning to use the experimental devices the 3.3 rocket was carrying into space, called cubesats, for research projects.

4

Stocks retreat after inflation exceeds expectations

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Thursday after a hot inflation report raised concerns that the Federal Reserve would have to raise interest rates more aggressively than expected. Stocks fluctuated then turned sharply lower after St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said he would like to see the fed-funds rate rise 1 percentage point over the central bank's next three policy meetings. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed down 1.8 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.5 percent. Futures suggested the market was in for further losses early Friday. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Dow futures were down by 0.4 percent.

5

No chicken wing shortage on Super Bowl Sunday, just higher prices

The National Chicken Council projects that chicken wing consumption on Super Bowl Sunday will be about the same as it was last year, at about 1.42 billion wings. The industry group isn't forecasting shortages like those that hit earlier during the coronavirus pandemic, but it says consumers should be prepared to pay higher prices stoked by high demand. The retail cost of wings is up 30 cents per pound compared to last year, although inventory is up 70 percent. "There will be no wing shortage," NCC spokesperson Tom Super said in a statement. "Like almost anything else you buy right now, wings might be a little more expensive, but they'll be stocked. I just wouldn't wait until kickoff to be in line or order online."

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