The daily business briefing: March 29, 2022
Biden unveils his $5.8 trillion budget proposal, Walmart reportedly will stop selling cigarettes in some stores, and more
Biden unveils $5.8 trillion budget
President Biden on Monday unveiled his $5.8 trillion budget plan, which calls for increased funding for the military and police, as well as for domestic programs. The spending plan also has a "Bipartisan Unity Agenda" covering cancer prevention, mental health care, and veterans services. The budget aims to reduce the national deficit by about $1 trillion over 10 years, mostly through a minimum tax that would be imposed on the nation's wealthiest households. "We're making real headway cleaning up the fiscal mess I inherited," Biden said as he presented the spending plan. "We're returning our fiscal house to order."
Walmart to halt cigarette sales in some U.S. stores
Walmart plans to stop selling cigarettes in some of its U.S. stores, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. The decision followed years of internal debate about whether the retail giant should offer tobacco products, which health officials say are linked to 480,000 U.S. deaths per year. Walmart now plans to remove them from some stores in California, Florida, Arkansas, and New Mexico, the Journal reported. The company, which has more than 4,700 U.S. stores, has redesigned some of the stores to include more self-checkout registers and grab-and-go food or candy near the front of stores where Marlboro, Newport, and other tobacco products had been displayed.
DeSantis signs controversial bill as Disney calls for its repeal
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed into law the state's controversial so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, which bans instruction regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms from kindergarten through third grade. Those who support the legislation believe it allows parents the opportunity to decide when and where to introduce LGBTQ topics to their kids. Critics have assailed the bill as harmful to queer youth. The Walt Disney Company, which faced a backlash from employees for not openly opposing the bill before it was passed, said it would try to get the law repealed or struck down in court. "I don't care what Hollywood says, I don't care what big corporations say," DeSantis remarked at the bill's signing. "Here I stand. I'm not backing down."
SpaceX to end Crew Dragon production and focus on next-generation spacecraft
SpaceX has halted production of its Crew Dragon astronaut capsules, Reuters reported Monday, citing a company executive. "We are finishing our final [capsule], but we still are manufacturing components, because we'll be refurbishing," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters. She added that the company could restart Crew Dragon production if necessary. The capping of the Crew Dragon fleet at four will help Elon Musk's space transportation company, which aims for its spacecraft to be reusable, shift its focus to completing the development of the astronaut capsule's successor, Starship, and SpaceX's moon and Mars rocket. Starship is nearing its debut, but engine development snags and regulatory reviews have delayed its first launch.
Stock futures rise, building on 3-day winning streak
U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday, giving Wall Street a shot at adding to Monday's gains ahead of key economic data. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by about 0.4 percent at 6:40 a.m. ET. The three main U.S. indexes capped a three-day winning streak on Monday. The Dow and the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. The tech-heavy Nasdaq surged by 1.3 percent. Investors will be digesting consumer confidence and home price data on Tuesday as they await Friday's monthly jobs report, and continue to monitor developments in the Ukraine-Russia war.