The daily business briefing: March 4, 2022
Sacklers agree to pay $6 billion in new opioid settlement, Airbnb suspends operations in Russia and Belarus, and more
Sacklers agree to pay $6 billion in new Purdue Pharma opioid settlement
Members of the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, have agreed to pay $6 billion to eight state governments and Washington, D.C., to address the role of the company, maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, in the nationwide opioid crisis. The deal, announced Thursday as part of Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy plan, will provide states with money for treatment programs. It also would include compensation for tens of thousands of people who became addicted to the drug after the company downplayed its risks. The judge still must approve the settlement. The judge rejected an earlier $4.3 billion payout after the states objected to a provision giving some of the Sacklers immunity.
Airbnb suspends operations in Russia and Belarus
Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, CEO Brian Chesky tweeted on Thursday night. He did not give any additional details on the decision. On Monday, Airbnb said it would help find short-term accommodations for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees through its independent nonprofit, Airbnb.org, which provides housing for people in crisis. "We know that Hosts and guests on Airbnb around the world will be eager to stand up and assist this massive effort to help those fleeing Ukraine," the company said. In the last week, several companies have said they will limit or stop their activities in Russia, including Disney, Ikea, and H&M.
Weekly jobless claims drop to 2022 low of 215,000
New unemployment claims dropped by 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 215,000 last week, a low for the year, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The latest data showed that the labor market was remaining tight as the economy steadily regains jobs lost earlier in the coronavirus pandemic. Layoffs briefly rose as COVID-19 cases surged in January due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, but they have fallen back to historic lows as new cases fell. "Employers are not in a rush to reduce their workforces," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate. Job postings are plentiful, about 60 above the pre-pandemic baseline, the jobs site Indeed estimated. Workers are capitalizing on their leverage by quitting and switching jobs in record numbers.
Stock futures fall ahead of February jobs report
U.S. stock futures fell early Friday as investors awaited the key February jobs report amid ongoing concerns about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect the Labor Department to report that U.S. employers added 440,000 jobs in February, and that the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent as the job market remained tight. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down 1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.9 percent. The three major U.S. averages slid on Thursday as Ukraine and Russia held a second meeting seeking a ceasefire. The Dow and the S&P 500 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq dropped 1.6 percent.
Bipartisan pressure mounts to block Russia oil imports
A growing bipartisan group of lawmakers is backing proposals to suspend imports of Russian oil and impose sanctions on Russia's energy sector over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The Biden administration has been imposing harsh financial penalties on Moscow but holding off on cutting off Russian oil to avoid pushing already rising U.S. gasoline prices higher. Lawmakers said Thursday that hitting Russia's crucial energy sector would add needed pressure. "If the current sanctions were enough, that 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks wouldn't be headed to Kyiv as it is now," said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When asked about a possible Russian oil ban on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "I'm all for that."