Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 17, 2022

Russia agrees to extend deal to allow Ukraine grain exports, Musk gives Twitter employees ultimatum, and more

1

Russia agrees to extend Ukraine grain deal

Russia has agreed to renew the deal that has allowed the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday. The U.N. announcement sent grain prices falling, with wheat and corn prices down 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet that the extension was a "key decision in the global fight against the food crisis." The deal had been set to expire this weekend. Moscow hasn't made a public statement about the status of agreement, which Turkey helped negotiate after Russia's invasion of Ukraine left the country's grains trapped at ports, driving up food prices around the world.

2

Musk gives Twitter employees ultimatum

Elon Musk on Wednesday told Twitter employees to commit to a new "hardcore" version of the social media company or quit with severance pay. The email, which The Washington Post obtained, gave workers an icon to click and gave them until Thursday to say whether they would stick around as Musk transformed Twitter into a more engineer-driven platform. "This will mean working long hours at high intensity," he said. Members of Twitter's Trust and Safety team tasked with blocking hate speech and misinformation were debating whether to resign en masse, the Post reported, citing three current employees speaking anonymously. Musk said Wednesday he would eventually hire someone else to run Twitter, which he acquired last month. 

3

Fed official open to easing interest-rate hikes

Christopher Waller, member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, said Wednesday that he was open to slowing the pace of the central bank's interest-rate hikes in December. Waller said he would consider backing a half-point hike at the Fed's next meeting, after four-straight aggressive three-quarter-point increases as the Fed worked to bring down high inflation by cooling the economy. Waller cautioned that even though recent inflation data showed the pace of price increases easing slightly, the rate remained unacceptably high and economists in the past have sometimes thought inflation was easing only to see it spike again.

4

Stock futures dip after mixed retail earnings

U.S. stock futures fluctuated early Thursday after mixed retail earnings reports. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down 0.6 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.7 percent. The major indexes had been up earlier in the morning. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent respectively on Wednesday. The Nasdaq dropped 1.8 percent. Target ended the day down 13 percent after reporting that inflation was forcing shoppers to cut back, dragging down sales and projections for the crucial holiday season. Retailer Bath & Body Works jumped more than 20 percent after it reported revenue that beat expectations, and per-share earnings twice as high as expected.

5

Starbucks employees to stage walkouts at 100-plus busy U.S. stores

Starbucks workers, seeking better pay and conditions, planned walkouts at more than than 100 U.S. stores. Workers in 25 states are participating in the strike, according to organizer Starbucks Workers United. The labor action, the biggest since the start of a campaign last year to unionize Starbucks workers, is happening on Starbucks' annual Red Cup Day, a busy day when the coffee chain gives free reusable cups to customers who buy special holiday drinks. The union says it hopes the walkouts will shut down affected stores. Starbucks, which has more than 9,000 company-owned U.S. outlets, has opposed the effort to unionize its employees, saying it's best for everyone when it deals directly with its workers.

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