Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 15, 2022

China COVID lockdown threatens new supply chain disruption, Manchin says he won't back Fed nominee over climate stance, and more

1

China COVID lockdown threatens supply chain

China on Monday locked down all 24 million residents of northeastern Jilin province to counter a COVID-19 outbreak. It is the country's first such province-wide lockdown since Wuhan and Hubei in January 2020, early in the coronavirus pandemic. Shenzhen city, which has a population of 17.5 million, started a week-long lockdown on Monday, with all public transport and non-essential businesses shut down. China's current restrictions to fight the latest coronavirus wave have disrupted global supply chains, including Apple-supplier Foxconn Technology. Foxconn, which makes some of Apple's iPhones and iPads in Shenzhen, said it would keep production moving by moving it to factories in unaffected areas. The city's massive port was still operating but expected to see shipments drop off due to factory closures. 

2

Manchin won't back confirmation of Fed nominee due to climate stance

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he would not vote to confirm Sarah Bloom Raskin, whom President Biden has nominated to the Federal Reserve Board, because of her past criticism of the fossil fuel industry. Raskin, a former Fed governor and Treasury deputy secretary, for years called for regulators to focus more on climate-related financial risks, and warned of the environmental dangers of fossil-fuel investments. Manchin, whose state was the second-largest coal producer in 2020 after Wyoming, said that the nation needs policy and economic experts "who are focused on the most pressing issues facing the American people and our nation — specifically rising inflation and energy costs." With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats will need at least one Republican vote to confirm Raskin without Manchin.

3

China says it wants to avoid sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine

China's foreign minister told his Spanish counterpart on Monday that Beijing wants to steer clear of sanctions imposed against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. "China is not a party to the crisis, nor does it want the sanctions to affect China," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during the call. The comments were Beijing's most direct yet on the global sanctions imposed by the United States and Western allies against Russia's financial system and Russian companies in response to the invasion, which started Feb. 24. On Monday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned his Chinese counterpart that Russia would face consequences if it provided military and economic aid to Moscow to help it get through the crisis.

4

White House marks Equal Pay Day with steps to fight gender pay gap

The White House is marking Equal Pay Day with steps toward erasing the gender pay gap for federal workers. President Biden on Tuesday is signing an executive order favoring banning federal contractors from seeking job applicants' salary history. The Labor Department is tightening requirements for contractors to audit payrolls to spot pay gaps linked to gender, race, and ethnicity. Equal Pay Day focuses attention on how much longer women have to work to make what men got the previous year. Last October, the administration launched a national gender strategy aiming to boost women's and girls' full participation in society. This year, it is calling attention to new ways to fight pay inequality, including the U.S. women's national soccer team's $24 million February discrimination settlement with U.S. Soccer.

5

Stock futures little changed as Fed decision looms

U.S. stock futures edged lower early Tuesday ahead of the start of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting expected to end Wednesday with an interest rate hike. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.1 percent. The Dow was flat on Monday. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell 0.7 percent and 2 percent, respectively. In addition to the Fed meeting, investors are closely watching developments in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted supply chains and driven up oil prices. "The market is jittery," said Gene Goldman, chief investment officer at Cetera Investment Management. "So much concern about the Russian invasion, inflation, and the Fed."

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