Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 19, 2022

VW aims for $75.1 billion valuation for Porsche IPO, office use reaches its highest rate since early in the pandemic, and more

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VW targets $75.1 billion valuation for Porsche IPO

Volkswagen said Sunday it is targeting a valuation up to $75.1 billion for its initial public offering of stock in luxury sports car maker Porsche. That would make it Germany's second-largest IPO ever. If shares hit the upper range of Volkswagen's target of 76.50 to 82.50 euros, it will be Europe's third-largest IPO on record, according to Refinitiv. The shares will debut on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Sept. 29. The sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Norway, and mutual fund company T. Rowe Price be cornerstone investors. "We are now in the home stretch with the IPO plans for Porsche and welcome the commitment of our cornerstone investors," Volkswagen Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Arno Antlitz said.

2

WSJ: Office use reaches highest rate since early in pandemic

U.S. workers are returning to their offices "at the highest rate since the pandemic forced most workplaces to temporarily close in 2020," The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Office use hit 47.5 percent of early 2020 levels from Sept. 8-14 in 10 major metro areas monitored by Kastle Systems, which tracks security swipes into office buildings. The last time the rate was that high was in late March 2020, when coronavirus shutdowns were ramping up. Office use is highest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, reaching 55 percent of pre-pandemic numbers last week. Office use was typically highest midweek before the pandemic, too, according to Kastle. Ridership on commuter rail lines in New York also indicated increasing office attendance.

3

European Union suspends $7.5 billion in funding for Hungary

The European Commission on Sunday recommended suspending about $7.5 billion in funding to Hungary, citing concerns about possible mismanagement of European Union money. The commission, the executive branch of the E.U., also said the move was justified by democratic backsliding in Hungary. The commission said suspending the money was necessary "to ensure the protection of the E.U. budget and the financial interests of the E.U. against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary." The money being blocked is from "cohesion funds," a major part of the trading bloc's budget intended to help countries lift their economies and infrastructure to meet E.U. standards.

4

Stock futures drop ahead of Fed meeting

U.S. stock futures fell early Monday as investors braced for this week's Federal Reserve meeting, which is expected to end with the latest in a series of steep interest rate hikes. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. The two-day Fed meeting begins Tuesday. The central bank is expected to raise its benchmark short-term interest rate by at least three-quarters of a point, the third such increase in a row. U.S. stocks are coming off their fourth losing week out of the last five, after a hotter-than-expected inflation report and a FedEx warning that falling deliveries indicated a "significantly worsened" global economy.

5

Oil prices fall further on weakening demand

Oil prices fell early Monday on continuing concerns about a global economic slowdown that is weakening demand. Futures for Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell by 1.6 percent to $89.86 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, fell 1.8 percent to $83.54 per barrel. Crude soared earlier this year as Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted the market and stoked supply concerns. Brent Crude hit a record high of $147 in March, weeks after Russian forces went into Ukraine. Since then, fears of global economic problems have dragged prices back down. A British holiday for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral was expected to tamp down trading activity on Monday.

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