The daily business briefing: May 2, 2022
European leaders discuss more Russia sanctions, stock futures rise after worst month since March 2020, and more
E.U. ministers discuss 6th round of Russia sanctions
European Union energy ministers are meeting Monday to discuss possible new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. They also will talk about how to respond to Russia's decision to halt natural-gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland. The E.U. has imposed five rounds of sanctions targeting Russian officials, oligarchs, banks, and other companies. The European Commission plans to include restrictions on Russian oil in its next sanctions, although Hungary, Slovakia, and other Russia-dependent countries are resisting. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has said it could handle a loss of oil through an embargo or a shutoff by the Kremlin. But the country gets 12 percent of its oil imports from Russia, and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the transition to other sources would be "bumpy."
Stock futures rise after worst month since March 2020
U.S. stock index futures rose slightly early Monday after Wall Street capped a losing month with huge losses on Friday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.4 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 0.6 percent at 6:45 a.m. ET. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 2.8 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, on Friday. It was the S&P 500's worst day since June 2020. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.2 percent on Friday. April was the worst month for the Dow and the S&P 500 since March 2020, with the Dow losing 4.9 percent on the month and the S&P dropping 8.8 percent. The Nasdaq plummeted 13.3 percent in its worst month since October 2008.
Italy, Greece ease travel restrictions
Italy and Greece announced Sunday that they are relaxing some COVID-19 restrictions on international visitors ahead of the crucial summer tourist season. Greece's civil aviation authority lifted COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights, except for a mask mandate on flights and at airports. The country previously required travelers to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test, or a recovery from a recent infection. Italy said it would no longer require people arriving in the country to complete the European Union passenger locator form, which had caused check-in bottlenecks. New Zealand welcomed international tourists back on Monday for the first time in two years as it lifted pandemic restrictions.
Biden's approval ratings edge up despite criticism on inflation
President Biden's approval ratings rebounded slightly from his low point two months ago, with 42 percent of respondents in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll saying they approve of the way he is handling his job as president. That's up from 37 percent in February. Fifty-two percent expressed disapproval in the new poll, down from 55 percent in February. Fifty-one percent said they approved of Biden's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 28 percent gave him positive ratings on the economy. Forty-four percent said they were "upset" about inflation, which reached a 40-year high in recent months. More than 90 percent said they were at least concerned about inflation.
Moderna 'confident' COVID variant booster ready by fall
Moderna Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said Sunday that the drugmaker is "confident" it will be able to provide large amounts of its vaccine booster against the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants by the fall. Moderna announced last month that preliminary data indicated its new booster was more effective against coronavirus variants than its current version. Butron, speaking on CBS's Face the Nation, encouraged people to get a booster dose to restore immunity as the effectiveness of the initial two doses wanes. "People are eligible now to get boosted. I would absolutely recommend it," he said.