Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 22, 2022

Ford says it will appeal $1.7 billion verdict in pickup crash case, regulators warn railroads to speed up freight shipments, and more

1

Ford to appeal $1.7 billion judgment in pickup crash

A Georgia jury has called for Ford Motor Co. to pay $1.7 billion in a civil wrongful-death case over a pickup truck crash that killed a Georgia couple, James Butler Jr., a lawyer for the children of the couple, said Sunday. Butler said Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed in the April 2014 rollover crash because their 2002 F-250 had a defective roof. "The damn thing is useless in a wreck," he said Sunday. "You might as well drive a convertible." Ford said it will appeal the verdict. "While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence, and we plan to appeal," the automaker said in a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday.

2

Regulator pushes railroads to speed up freight shipments

The Surface Transportation Board, which oversees U.S. freight railroads, is considering tough rules to make rail companies share tracks and address slowdowns of freight shipments, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The five-member board said something must be done to get needed shipments of raw materials to their destinations to keep the economy moving. STB Chair Martin Oberman says the railroads cut workers to boost profitability before the pandemic, and now need to catch up. The railroads have said they are doing everything they can hire more workers and upgrade equipment, but face the same staff shortages that have been hampering other industries.

3

Education secretary says decision coming soon on student loan debt

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Sunday that the Biden administration would announce within days whether it will extend a pause on federal student loan debt. The current moratorium expires Aug. 31. "We've been talking daily about this, and I can tell you the American people will hear within the next week or so," Cardona said on NBC's Meet the Press. Democratic lawmakers have pressured the administration to cancel up to $50,000 in debt per borrower, while President Biden has called for forgiving as much as $10,000. The administration already has approved $32 billion in relief for more than 1.6 million borrowers. About 45 million Americans have student loan debt totaling an estimated $1.7 trillion.

4

Stock futures fall ahead of Fed's Jackson Hole gathering

U.S. stock futures fell early Monday amid renewed concerns about aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve halting a market rally. Futures tied to the S&P 500, which snapped a four-week winning streak last week, were down 1.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq futures were down 0.9 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. Analysts said Wall Street could face a volatile week as corporate earnings reports and the Federal Reserve's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, give investors a lot to digest. Palo Alto Networks and Zoom Video report quarterly results after trading ends Monday.

5

Oil futures fall due to interest rate hike concerns

Oil prices resumed their recent slide early Monday as investors continue to worry that the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes to fight high inflation could weaken the global economy. International benchmark Brent crude futures dropped 1.6 percent to $95.12 per barrel. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 1.7 percent to $89.21 a barrel. Both climbed Friday, their third straight day of gains, but finished last week down about 1.5 percent. "Growing fears over a global economic slowdown are behind the fall in oil markets," said Tatsufumi Okoshi, senior economist at Nomura Securities. "A higher U.S. dollar also prompted fresh selling."

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