The daily business briefing: February 25, 2022
U.S. stocks rattled but resilient after Russia invades Ukraine, international companies shut Ukraine factories, and more
U.S. stocks make broad swings after Russia's Ukraine invasion
U.S. stocks made a stunning comeback on Thursday, closing with big gains after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent shares plummeting early in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 92 points, or 0.3 percent, after falling by as much 700 points. The S&P 500 gained 1.5 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 3.3 percent. Despite the turnaround, the S&P 500 remains in correction territory, down more than 10 percent from its record high on Jan. 3. The Nasdaq Composite started the day in bear market territory, more than 20 percent below its November record, but rebounded and closed about 16 percent below its all-time high. The volatility appeared likely to continue on Friday as Russia's invasion entered its second day. U.S. stock futures fell overnight.
International companies shut Ukraine factories after Russia invades
International companies operating in Russia and Ukraine started closing offices and factories on Thursday after Russia invaded Ukraine. Danish brewer Carlsberg shut down three breweries in Ukraine and told workers to stay home. Nestlé temporarily closed its three Ukraine factories and urged its 5,000 employees in the country to stay home. Some executives sent workers to the Polish border to get away from the violence. With the rail network and ports closed, and gas supplies disrupted, operations were difficult for businesses remaining open. "Today is a dark day for all of us," Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruchtold shareholders at their annual meeting. "The attack on Ukraine represents a turning point in Europe; a war was simply unthinkable for many people, especially the younger generations."
Biden announces more sanctions against Russia
President Biden announced more sanctions against Russia on Thursday in response to its invasion of Ukraine. "Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences," Biden said. The new sanctions include measures to block technology exports, a move intended to deter Russian military and aerospace advances. Biden also said the sanctions would target Russian banks and "corrupt billionaires," many of whom have Kremlin ties. The United States is also targeting people in Belarus for that country's help in Russia's invasion. U.S. allies, including the European Union, also announced new sanctions. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country would impose its "largest ever" penalties against Russia.
DOJ challenges UnitedHealth's $13 billion Change Healthcare acquisition
The Justice Department on Thursday filed an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block a UnitedHealth subsidiary's proposed $13 billion acquisition of health-technology firm Change Healthcare. The Justice Department, in the Biden administration's latest challenge of corporate consolidation, argued that the deal would include technologies that UnitedHealth's rivals depend on, giving the company access to data it could use to gain advantages over competitors. The suit also said the acquisition would reduce direct competition in the insurance claim transmission and review business, where UnitedHealth and Change both offer services. UnitedHealth said the DOJ's position was "deeply flawed" and "based on highly speculative theories that do not reflect the realities of the health-care system."
Beyond Meat shares drop after larger-than-expected quarterly loss
Beyond Meat shares fell 11 percent in after-market trading after the plant-based meat company reported a larger quarterly loss than expected. Beyond Meat reported a loss of $1.27 per share in the last three months of 2021, exceeding the 77 cent loss expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv. Quarterly revenue dropped 1.3 percent due to weak demand, increased discounts, and shrinking market share, the company said. Another leading plant-based meat company lowered its growth forecast, further darkening the outlook for a market that experienced strong growth for several years before slowing down last year.