Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 16, 2022

Britain authorizes Moderna COVID booster that targets variants, home builder sentiment falls into negative territory, and more

1

U.K. authorizes COVID booster targeting variants

Britain on Monday authorized Moderna's new coronavirus booster, making it the first vaccine available to target two variants, the original virus and Omicron. Half of each dose was designed to fight the original variant, and the other half targets Omicron, which has been the dominant strain since last winter's deadly surge. Current vaccines remain effective at preventing severe COVID-19 cases and death, but the new booster will provide increased protection, said Dr. June Raine, the chief executive of Britain's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. "What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armory to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve," Raine said.

2

Homebuilder sentiment falls into negative territory

Sentiment among single-family homebuilders fell into negative territory in August after eight straight months of declines. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index dropped 6 points to 49 this month — any reading 50 or above is considered positive. The index has fallen due to rising costs and weakening demand after remaining in positive territory since June 2014, except for a brief negative dip early in the coronavirus pandemic before a real-estate boom. "Tighter monetary policy from the Federal Reserve and persistently elevated construction costs have brought on a housing recession," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

3

Walmart to add Paramount+ streaming for Walmart+ members

Walmart said Monday it has reached a deal with Paramount Global to include the Paramount+ streaming service in the Walmart+ membership program. Starting in September, Walmart+ members will get the Paramount+ Essential plan, which normally costs $4.99 per month, for no additional charge. The Essential plan does not include access to local live CBS stations, available through the $9.99-per-month Paramount+ Premium plan, but it includes NFL and UEFA Champions League games via separate live feeds, as well as content from Paramount's CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and MTV brands. Walmart is aiming to make its service more competitive with Amazon Prime, which includes streaming entertainment. Like Prime, Walmart+ offers delivery benefits, including same-day delivery of more than 160,000 products.

4

Starbucks asks labor board to suspend union elections

Starbucks on Monday sent a letter to the National Labor Relations Board asking for a temporary suspension of union elections in its U.S. coffee stores. The coffee chain cited allegations from a labor board employee that regional officials at the NLRB's St. Louis office had improperly coordinated with union organizers overseeing a union election at a Starbucks outlet in Kansas, one of 314 U.S. Starbucks stores where workers have asked to hold union votes since late 2021. More than 220 of the locations have voted in favor of union representation. Starbucks accuses board officials of letting pro-union workers vote in person at its office in violation of an agreement for all ballots to be mailed in.

5

Stock futures edge lower after starting week with gains

U.S. stock futures slipped early Tuesday after Monday's gains lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average above its 200-day moving average for the first time since late April. Futures tied to the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were down 0.2 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. All three of the main U.S. stock indexes rose on Monday. The Dow gained 0.5 percent. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Overnight, shares of ZipRecruiter fell more than 5 percent after the country lowered its revenue outlook. Shares of Compass dropped nearly 13 percent after the real estate broker reported quarterly earnings that fell short of expectations, and lowered its outlook. 

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