Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 8, 2022

Gas prices set record as leaders push to ban Russian oil, the Biden administration tightens truck-emission standards, and more

1

Gas prices hit record high as Russia's Ukraine invasion pushes up oil prices

Gas prices continued to rise early Tuesday as bipartisan support for a ban on Russian oil imports grew in Congress. The national average reached $4.173 per gallon, surpassing the previous record of $4.114 reached in July 2008, automobile club AAA said. The price of oil jumped by about 14 percent on Monday, with the international benchmark Brent crude reaching about $129 per barrel, up from about $65 per barrel in early December. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose about 8 percent to roughly $125 per barrel. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been urging President Biden to ban Russian oil imports as part of the effort to impose harsher sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.

2

Biden administration tightens emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks

The Biden administration announced Monday that it is tightening emissions standards for large trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency is updating standards for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty trucks for the first time since 2001 in a bid to reduce smog. The EPA also announced more than $1.3 billion in funding to get more clean transportation and school buses on the road. Before this move, the Biden administration had focused on cutting emissions from passenger cars and other light-duty vehicles. Heavy-duty vehicles cause about 23 percent of total vehicle emissions, although there are far fewer of them than smaller vehicles.

3

Stock futures struggle to rebound from Monday's plunge

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Tuesday after closing sharply lower on Monday as oil prices surged to their highest level since September 2008 due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.2 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were little changed. The S&P 500 had its worst day since October on Monday, falling 3 percent. The Nasdaq plummeted by 3.6 percent. The Dow closed down 2.4 percent. "Sentiment is palpably negative," Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, said in a note. "Any hope/optimism that may have exited seems to have completely evaporated from the market and there's NO interest to buy dips."

4

Russia's Ukraine invasion sends metals prices soaring for carmakers

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has resulted in soaring costs for metals used in cars, from aluminum used in vehicle bodies to high-grade nickel needed for electric-vehicle batteries. The London Metal Exchange halted nickel trading on Tuesday after an unprecedented 250 percent price spike over two days, pushing its price briefly above $100,000 a ton early Tuesday, a first. Aluminum and palladium, used in catalytic converters, both hit record highs Monday. Metals haven't yet been included in Western sanctions imposed against Russia over its Ukraine invasion, but shippers and suppliers in the auto industry are among those avoiding Russian goods, adding to the problems facing automakers already contending with a chip shortage.

5

Uber shares struggle despite raised guidance

Uber shares fluctuated on Monday and early Tuesday as driver income fell due to rising gas prices but the company said its ride-hailing business was recovering from the disruption of the COVID-19 wave caused by the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant. The company raised its guidance for adjusted earnings to between $130 million and $150 million, up from between $100 million and $130 million thanks to recent increases in customer use of its ride-hailing and delivery businesses. "Our Mobility business is bouncing back from Omicron much faster than we expected," Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said. Gross bookings for airports were 50 percent higher at the end of February compared to a month earlier, "highlighting just how eager consumers are to get moving again," he said.

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