Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 10, 2022

Stocks fall to 2022 low but futures rebound, Biden announces deal to expand internet access, and more

1

Stocks plunge to lowest level in 2022

U.S. stocks plunged Monday to their lowest level this year in an ongoing sell-off fueled by concerns about the highest inflation in decades, and Federal Reserve interest rate hikes intended to tame it. The tech-heavy Nasdaq took the hardest hit, falling 4.3 percent. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.2 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Economists and investors are growing increasingly worried that the Fed won't be able to raise rates and cut its bond holdings fast enough to bring down inflation without tipping the economy into a recession. U.S. stock futures rebounded early Tuesday, with the major indexes rising about 1 percent.

2

Biden announces deal to expand internet access

President Biden announced Monday that his administration has reached an agreement with 20 internet providers — including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon — to provide discounted high-speed internet service to low-income Americans. "Over the last few months, my administration has worked closely with internet providers — this is a case where big business stepped up — urging them to cut their prices and raise their speeds," Biden said. "I'm trying to get others to do the same thing with inflation, but these guys are the best." He has repeatedly blamed high inflation rates in part on corporate greed. Biden said low-income families could select a provider and get "high-speed internet at no cost in most cases."

3

Bitcoin dips below $30,000 for 1st time since mid-2021

Bitcoin fell below $30,000 for the first time since mid-2021 before rebounding by as much as 5.4 percent to $31,904 early Tuesday. The world's biggest cryptocurrency has been falling since a rally peaked in November. Digital currencies are increasingly trading in line with technology stocks, which have been falling in recent months as interest rates rise, increasing borrowing costs. Bitcoin is now down nearly 55 percent from its November high, and 40 percent of people who have invested in the digital currency are now underwater, CNBC reports, citing new data from Glassnode. The figure is much higher among people who invested in the last six months, when bitcoin was closer to its peak of around $69,000.

4

Tesla sharply cuts production at Shanghai factory

Tesla has halted most production at its Shanghai electric-car factory because of difficulties obtaining parts, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing an internal memo. Shanghai is in its sixth week of an intensifying COVID-19 lockdown. Tesla's sales in China were already down 98 percent in April compared to March. The company said in the memo that it planned to produce fewer than 200 vehicles at the Shanghai facility on Tuesday, down from the target of 1,200 units per day it reached shortly after reopening the factory following a 22-day closure. Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

5

White House says it's working to address baby-formula shortage

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden administration officials were "working around the clock" to ease a nationwide shortage of baby formula. Pandemic-related supply disruptions started the problem, and it intensified in February when Abbott Laboratories had to recall baby formulas, including certain Similac products, made at a key plant after several cases of bacterial infections in babies. The "out-of-stock" rate for baby formula has jumped from 2-8 percent in early 2021 to 30-40 percent in recent weeks. "In six states — Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas, and Tennessee — more than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the week starting April 24," CNN Business reports.

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