Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 23, 2022

Sellers drop house prices in former pandemic boomtowns, teachers go on strike in Ohio's largest school district, and more

1

Sellers cut house prices in pandemic boomtowns

Home sellers are sharply cutting prices in former pandemic boomtowns as high prices and rising mortgage rates discourage buyers. The highest share of price drops came in Boise, Idaho, where 70 percent of sellers cut their asking prices in July, up from 30 percent in the same month a year earlier, according to online brokerage Redfin. "Individual home sellers and builders were both quick to drop their prices early this summer, mostly because they had unrealistic expectations of both price and timelines," said Boise Redfin agent Shauna Pendleton. Prices skyrocketed in many housing markets earlier in the coronavirus pandemic as people able to work remotely fled larger cities seeking larger homes at lower costs.

2

Teachers strike in Columbus, Ohio 

Teachers at Ohio's largest school district picketed outside schools on Monday after voting a day earlier to go on strike, just days before the start of the school year. The Columbus teachers are demanding smaller class sizes and safer, better-funded schools. The Columbus Board of Education called the move "incredibly disappointing." It is the first strike since 1975 by the Columbus Education Association union, which represents more than 4,000 teachers, nurses, and other employees of the Columbus City Schools district. A day before the Ohio vote, a union representing about 2,000 employees of the School District of Philadelphia seeking higher wages and better training voted to authorize a strike a week ahead of the start of classes.

3

Pfizer and BioNTech ask FDA to approve updated vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that they have requested Food and Drug Administration authorization for an updated version of their COVID-19 vaccine designed to target the Omicron coronavirus subvariants that now account for more than 90 percent of new U.S. cases. The new "bivalent" booster, mixing two vaccine versions, has been shown in early tests to be effective against both the original and latest coronavirus strains, the drugmakers said. If authorized by the FDA, distribution could begin "immediately," with widespread availability as soon as this fall, ahead of expected winter surges, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

4

Stock futures struggle after Monday's dive

U.S. stock futures were little changed early Tuesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged Monday in its worst day since June. Futures tied to the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up less than 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. The Dow dropped 1.9 percent on Monday as Wall Street's recent rally faded. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 2.1 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. U.S. natural gas futures have risen to 14-year highs this week as demand for U.S. shale gas jumps in Europe due to Russia's plans to shut down its Nord Stream pipeline. The pipeline shutdown is the latest in a series of unplanned maintenance projects that European leaders have criticized as economic retaliation for Western support for Ukraine's resistance to Russia's invasion.

5

Ford to cut 3,000 jobs 

Ford plans to cut 3,000 white collar jobs globally — 2,000 salaried positions and 1,000 contractors — as it shifts from traditional internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, Automotive News reported Monday. Ford aims to generate half of its global sales from fully electric vehicles by 2030. "Building this future requires changing and reshaping virtually all aspects of the way we have operated for more than a century," CEO Jim Farley and executive chairman Bill Ford wrote in a message to employees. Farley hinted at the changes when the automaker reported earnings a month ago, telling analysts Ford had "too many people in certain places" and "skills that don't work anymore."

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