Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 23, 2022

Biden unveils Indo-Pacific trade deal, military jet brings baby-formula shipment from Europe, and more

1

Biden unveils Indo-Pacific trade deal

President Biden on Monday announced a trade deal with 12 Asia-Pacific nations to counter China and boost economic engagement in the region five years after then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership. Biden, making his first trip to Asia as president, announced the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity in Tokyo after meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. "Biden hopes IPEF will blunt criticism that he had not included a trade component in his security-heavy Indo-Pacific strategy," the Financial Times reports. Biden also emphasized the U.S. security commitment in the region, though, indicating during a joint press conference with Kishida that the U.S. would use military force to defend Taiwan if China ever attacked.

2

Military jet brings 1st baby formula shipment from Europe 

A U.S. military aircraft flew from Germany to Indianapolis with 78,000 pounds of baby formula on Sunday. The 132 pallets of hypoallergenic, prescription Nestlé Health Science formula will go to babies intolerant of a protein in cow milk in parts of the country facing the most severe shortages of infant formula, a Biden administration told CNN. The shipment, which was trucked from Switzerland to Germany before being loaded onto the U.S. C-17 cargo jet, will feed 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week. "It is a large shipment of very specific and specialized formula," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was present for the delivery in Indianapolis.

3

Gas prices continue to rise, hit $4.71 per gallon

The average price of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline reached $4.71 nationwide, up 33 cents in the past two weeks, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday. She said the increase was due to rising crude oil prices and limited gasoline supplies. The fuel market has been roiled by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted distribution networks and prompted a U.S. embargo on Russian oil. The current U.S. price is up $1.61 from the same time last year. The average price of diesel jumped 9 cents in the last two weeks to $5.66 per gallon.

4

Stock futures rise after volatile week

U.S. stock futures gained early Monday, nudging the S&P 500 back from bear-market territory after volatile trading on Friday. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.7 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 0.6 percent. Stocks have fallen in recent weeks as concerns mount over high inflation and the interest-rate hikes the Federal Reserve is using to fight it. China's aggressive COVID-19 lockdowns have renewed supply-chain disruptions that pushed prices higher throughout the pandemic. "This year, we're dealing with several issues, which in and of themselves would ordinarily be the top story in any given year," said Hugh Gimber, a global markets strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

5

'Downton Abbey' starts strong, but 'Doctor Strange' stays at No. 1 

Focus Features' Downton Abbey: A New Era brought in $16 million in its North America debut, not enough to topple Disney and Marvel's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness from the top spot but enough to give the industry hope that older movie-goers are ready to return to theaters. Downton Abbey, directed by Simon Curtis and written by series creator Julian Fellowes, took the second spot at the weekend domestic box office with a better showing than other recent films made for mature audiences, including Steven Spielberg's West Side Story. But Doctor Strange held on to No. 1 comfortably, bringing in $31.6 million in its third weekend, lifting its domestic total to $342.1 million.

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