Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 26, 2022

Gazprom further cuts flow of Russian natural gas to Europe, the SEC charges former GOP Rep. Stephen Buyer with insider trading, and more

1

Gazprom further cuts gas flow to Europe 

Russian energy company Gazprom said Monday it was shutting down another Nord Stream 1 pipeline turbine, further reducing the flow of natural gas to Germany. The gas flow through the pipeline, a key energy source for Europe, will be cut to 20 percent of its normal capacity. The European Union has accused the Kremlin of using gas supplies to blackmail Western nations for imposing sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia has said the sanctions have made it harder to get parts and maintenance services necessary to keep the pipeline working properly. The latest cuts raise pressure on European nations to come up with alternative energy sources before winter.

2

SEC charges former GOP Rep. Stephen Buyer with insider trading

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged former Rep. Stephen Buyer (R-Ind.) with insider trading, accusing him of making more than $300,000 in "illicit profits" by buying stock in companies after learning they were about to be purchased. Buyer served in Congress from 1993 to 2011 before leaving and starting a consulting firm. In 2018, he learned while consulting for T-Mobile that the company was about to buy Sprint, and he bought more than $500,000 worth of Sprint stock. Once the acquisition went through, Buyer "reaped ill-gotten" gains of $100,000, according to the SEC filing. Buyer's lawyer, Andrew Goldstein, said the former lawmaker is innocent. "His stock trades were lawful," Goldstein said. "He looks forward to being quickly vindicated."

3

Fed leaders head into meeting expected to end with another rate hike

Federal Reserve policymakers start a two-day meeting Tuesday that is expected to end with the central bank's latest aggressive interest-rate hike to cool the economy and bring down the highest inflation in four decades. The Fed raised rates by 0.75 percent in June, three times the typical hike of 0.25 percent. Wall Street investors are betting the Fed will continue raising rates aggressively through the end of the year, then start cutting them again after about six months, according to The Wall Street Journal. Fed officials have estimated that the Fed's benchmark rate, currently set between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent, could rise to around 3.8 percent next year before settling around 2.5 percent.

4

Walmart announces price cuts, lowers profit expectations

Walmart on Monday said it would cut prices on some clothing, electronics, and other items to clear out inventory backlogs as the highest inflation in four decades forced shoppers to spend more on food and other necessities. "The increasing levels of food and fuel inflation are affecting how customers spend," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said. "Apparel in Walmart U.S. is requiring more markdown dollars." The big-box retailer said the spending shift would impact profits. It cut its quarterly and full-year guidance, saying it now expects adjusted earnings per share this year to fall 13 percent, up from the previous estimate of 11 percent. Walmart shares fell 9 percent in after-hours trading. Other retailer stocks, including Target and Amazon, also fell.

5

Stock futures edge down after Walmart jolts retail stocks

U.S. stock futures edged down early Tuesday after Walmart cut its profit guidance, dragging down retail stocks overnight. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.5 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 0.4 percent. Stocks fell slightly on Monday, although they remained on track to make July their best month this year. Investors are bracing for more earnings reports from more big companies, as well as a flurry of economic data and the Federal Reserve's latest interest-rate hike. Before the bell, General Motors reported earnings that fell short of expectations as supply chain troubles hurt profits. Coca-Cola and McDonald's also report earnings Tuesday morning. Google-parent Alphabet, Microsoft, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and UPS report after trading ends.

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