The daily business briefing: July 27, 2022

EU energy ministers call for reducing natural-gas use, Shopify says it's laying off 10 percent of its workers, and more

Natural gas burners in Rzeszow, Poland
Natural gas burners in Rzeszow, Poland
(Image credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

1. EU calls for member nations to cut natural-gas consumption

European Union energy ministers on Tuesday reached an agreement to call for members of the trading bloc to voluntarily reduce their natural-gas consumption 15 percent by spring. The deal came a day after Russia's state-owned gas monopoly, Gazprom, said it would shut down another turbine for repairs and further cut deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, dropping flows to 20 percent of capacity. The Kremlin has blamed sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine for the cutbacks, while Western leaders have accused Moscow of blackmail. "Today, the EU has taken a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The New York Times

2. Shopify says it's laying off 10 percent of its workers

Shopify plans to lay off 1,000 employees, or about 10 percent of its global workforce, CEO Tobi Lutke told staff in a memo Tuesday. The news, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, sent the company's stock plunging by 15 percent. The shares are now down more than 80 percent since peaking in November near $175, adjusting for a recent stock split. Shopify, which reports quarterly results Wednesday, said the cuts were necessary as shoppers resume pre-pandemic habits, defying the company's expectations that customers would continue the online shopping that fueled the company's growth even as the pandemic eased. "It's now clear that bet didn't pay off," wrote Lütke, who took the blame for the miscalculation.

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The Wall Street Journal

3. Stock futures rise ahead of Fed decision

Stock futures rose early Wednesday ahead of an expected aggressive interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve to fight the highest inflation in four decades. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 1.4 percent. The three main U.S. indexes fell Tuesday after Walmart slashed its earnings forecast, stoking fears that consumers are cutting discretionary spending as food and gas prices rise, and dragging down other retail stocks. Other companies reported mixed earnings, with General Motors shares dropping after the automaker reported earnings that fell short of expectations, but shares of Coca-Cola, McDonald's, 3M, and General Electric jumping after they reported strong quarters.


4. Alphabet, Microsoft, Texas Instruments earnings boost tech sector

Shares of Alphabet, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments jumped in early trading Wednesday after the tech giants reported double-digit quarterly revenue growth and released encouraging forecasts on Tuesday. The stocks were all up by around 4 percent several hours before the opening bell. The strong results and optimistic outlooks boosted tech stocks ahead of more earnings reports by industry leaders, including Facebook-parent Meta, Qualcomm, Apple, Amazon, and Intel. Microsoft's encouraging sales forecast for the full year eased concerns that the slowing economy would hammer sales. Alphabet's better-than-expected advertising revenue soothed fears of an online ad slump. "I would construe this report as a sigh of relief," said Dan Morgan, a senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co.


5. Klondike to stop selling Choco Tacos after nearly 40 years

Klondike has released a statement on its website announcing that it is halting production of the Choco Taco, a taco-shaped ice cream snack that has been sold on ice-cream trucks for nearly 40 years. "Over the past two years, we have experienced an unprecedented spike in demand across our portfolio and have had to make very tough decisions to ensure availability of our full portfolio nationwide," the company said in a statement. "A necessary but unfortunate part of this process is that we sometimes must discontinue products, even a beloved item like Choco Taco." Klondike, a division of food conglomerate Unilever's Good Humor-Breyers division, had said as recently as last week that single-count Choco Tacos would continue to be available in convenience stores and ice-cream trucks.

NBC News

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