The daily business briefing: April 15, 2022
Mortgage rates reach 5 percent for first time in a decade, Biden plans to nominate Michael Barr as top Fed banking regulator, and more
Mortgage rates reach 5 percent
The average U.S. interest on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached 5 percent for the first time in a decade, government-mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday. A week ago, the interest rate on these loans — the nation's most popular mortgages — was 4.72 percent. Fifteen months earlier, mortgage rates were at all-time lows as the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate near zero to boost the recovery from the 2020 recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. Mortgage rates and Treasury yields have risen as the Federal Reserve accelerated plans to raise interest rates to fight high inflation. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 1.2 percent and 2.1 percent on Thursday, capping a losing week shortened by the Good Friday holiday. The Dow fell 0.3 percent.
Biden to nominate Michael Barr to Fed post
President Biden said Friday he planned to nominate former Treasury official Michael Barr to be the Federal Reserve's vice chair of supervision. The selection of Barr, the dean of the University of Michigan's public policy school, to be the Fed's top banking regulator came after Biden's first choice, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination a month ago after facing opposition from Republicans and a moderate Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). Without Manchin, Democrats lacked the majority it needed in the evenly split Senate to confirm Raskin. Biden said Barr previously cleared the Senate with bipartisan backing, and "brings the expertise and experience necessary for this important position at a critical time for our economy and families across the country."
Musk says he has a backup plan if Twitter rejects his takeover offer
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Thursday that he has a Plan B in case Twitter rejects his $43 billion hostile takeover offer. Speaking at the TED 2022 conference, Musk said he was "not sure that I will actually be able to acquire" the company, even though he said he can "technically afford it." When asked if there was a backup plan in case the board turns down his offer, he said "there is," but that the details were "for another time." Musk recently revealed he had purchased a 9.2 percent stake in the social media company, making him its largest shareholder, but he turned down an offer to sit on its board.
Pfizer-BioNTech say COVID booster works in kids ages 5 to 11
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster significantly increased antibodies against the Omicron coronavirus variant in 5- to 11-year-old children, according to a report released by the companies Thursday. Blood samples showed that antibodies against Omicron increased 36-fold in 30 children and sixfold in 140 children after the third shot. No new safety issues emerged in the 400-child booster trial. Children in the age group received a 10-microgram third dose of the vaccine, one-third the size of the adult dose. Pfizer and BioNTech said they planned to ask the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the boosters soon. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized the first COVID-19 breath test.
Abbott halts Texas truck inspections that disrupted trade across border
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has begun rolling back new inspection rules for commercial trucks crossing into Texas from Mexico, following days of criticism from businesses, Mexican officials, the White House, Democratic gubernatorial rival Beto O'Rourke, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R), among many others. Abbott's April 6 order that state troopers inspect all commercial traffic from Mexico snarled truck traffic at the border and disrupted trade. Abbott said Wednesday and Thursday he would suspend the state inspections at border crossings with three states — Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua — whose governors agreed to have Mexican police do safety checks on their side of the border.