Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 22, 2022

New York regulators approve the state's first recreational marijuana retailers, union members reject proposed rail contract, and more

1

N.Y. regulators approve state's 1st recreational marijuana retailers

New York state regulators on Monday approved the state's first dispensaries to be allowed to sell recreational marijuana. The permits went to about three dozen businesses that will be able to legally sell cannabis products in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. A federal judge in Albany earlier this month blocked the state's Office of Cannabis Management from approving dispensaries in Brooklyn and several upstate areas, including Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, due to ongoing litigation. "Not long ago, the idea of New York legalizing cannabis seemed unbelievable," said board chair Tremaine Wright. "Now, not only have we legalized, but we're also building a legal adult-use market with an equity-driven approach."

2

Union members reject rail contract, raising risk of strike

Members of the SMART Transportation Division, a union that represents freight rail conductors, narrowly rejected a proposed labor contract, union officials said Monday. Members of another large union that mostly represents engineers, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, voted to approve the agreement, with 53.5 percent backing the deal. But unless the SMART Transportation Division's members and the Association of American Railroads, which represents major rail lines, reach a new agreement by early December, the rail workers could go on strike. The latest deal would have increased salaries by 25 percent over five years, but rail workers say their main issue is tough, unpredictable schedules. Retailers warned a strike would be "a self-inflicted economic disaster" that would disrupt the supply chain and worsen inflation.

3

Paramount Global drops plan to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House

Simon & Schuster owner Paramount Global said in a Monday federal filing that it was dropping its proposed $2.2 billion deal to sell the publisher to rival Penguin Random House. U.S. District Judge Florence Pan blocked the deal on Oct. 31, saying it would reduce competition "in the market for the U.S. publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books." Bertelsmann, the German media group that owns Penguin, had said it wanted to seek an expedited appeal, but it was unable to get Paramount Global to go along with challenging the judge's decision. Paramount said it still considered Simon & Schuster a "non-core asset," suggesting it might be planning to seek another buyer.

4

Musk extends Twitter layoffs to sales team

Elon Musk extended layoffs at Twitter to include some members of the social media company's sales team on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. It was not immediately clear how many more jobs were cut. Musk fired half of Twitter's 7,500 employees earlier this month, and hundreds more have quit, some leaving over his changes since completing his $44 billion Twitter takeover, and others choosing to take severance instead of committing to "long hours at high intensity" as he makes Twitter "extremely hardcore." Also on Monday, Musk said he was further delaying his plan to launch the Twitter Blue upgraded subscription service after its recent botched rollout.

5

U.S. stock futures edge higher

U.S. stock futures struggled for footing early Tuesday after rising COVID-19 cases in China and concerns about the U.S. economy dragged shares down on Monday. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET, after being slightly down earlier in the morning. All three of the main U.S. averages fell on Monday. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 0.1 and 0.4 percent, respectively. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 1.1 percent. The losses came after China reported its first COVID deaths on the mainland since May, raising concerns that Beijing might bring back coronavirus lockdowns to prevent coronavirus infections, potentially hurting businesses.

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