Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 10, 2022

Biden signs bill seeking to boost U.S. chip production, Ford says it will start taking F-150 Lightning orders again with a price hike, and more

1

Biden signs bill to boost U.S. semiconductor chip production

President Biden on Tuesday signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which seeks to boost U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing with more than $200 billion in investments over five years. The legislation aims to lower the cost of goods and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign chip makers, which could ease supply-chain disruptions like those triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden called the bipartisan measure a "once-in-a-generation investment in America itself." The White House said earlier this week that companies had committed to nearly $50 billion in new investments in American semiconductor production in response to Congress' recent approval of the bill.

2

Ford to start taking F-150 Lightning orders again, with price hike

Ford Motor Co. says it plans to start taking orders again for its all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck this week, with a price hike. The automaker, citing "significant material cost increases and other factors," said the price of the popular base model will rise by $7,000, or 17.5 percent, to $47,000, with higher-end versions increasing by $8,500. Ford started Lightning production in April, and initially capped reservations at 200,000 as it focused on boosting production capacity. Semiconductor chip shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic have hurt many automakers. The new F-150 Lightnings for the 2023 model year will have a slightly longer battery range, with standard versions getting 240 miles per charge, up from 230.

3

Elon Musk sells $6.9 billion in Tesla stock 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday that he had sold $6.9 billion worth of shares in the electric vehicle maker to raise cash in case he loses a legal fight and is forced to go through with his April deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Musk tried to back out of the agreement in July, saying the social media company had misled him about how many of its accounts are fake, and Twitter has sued to force him to complete the deal. "In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don't come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock," Musk tweeted late Tuesday. The case is scheduled for trial in October.

4

Stock futures rise ahead of report expected to show cooling inflation

U.S. stock futures rose slightly early Wednesday ahead of a key inflation report. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up just over 0.2 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, on Tuesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq plunged 1.2 percent. Economists expect the latest consumer price index report to show that inflation has cooled slightly thanks to falling gasoline prices. Economists expect the report to show that the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent compared to June, down from a 1.3 percent spike a month earlier. The CPI inflation rate is expected to fall to 8.7 percent from 9.1 percent in June, a 40-year high.

5

Judge approves Blue Cross Blue Shield antitrust settlement

A federal judge on Tuesday approved an antitrust settlement involving Blue Cross Blue Shield companies that calls for the insurers to pay $2.67 billion and change some allegedly anti-competitive practices. The approval by U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor in Alabama puts the settlement on track to take effect in 30 days. A group of employers and individual policyholders with Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage filed the lawsuit as a proposed class action in 2012. The suit accused the Blue Cross Blue Shield providers, which hold rights to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield names within their territory, of unfairly driving up prices by illegally conspiring to carve up markets so they wouldn't have to compete against one another.

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