Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 30, 2022

Congressional leaders say they will intervene to prevent a devastating rail strike, holiday shoppers set records over Thanksgiving weekend, and more

1

Congressional leaders vow to prevent rail strike

Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress said Tuesday they will intervene to prevent a looming nationwide rail strike. President Biden had called for Congress to impose a negotiated deal rejected by members of four of the 12 unions representing the 115,000 rail workers, warning that a strike would disrupt vital supplies of food, fuel, and water, devastating the economy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to act quickly after meeting with the White House and Republican leaders. "I don't like going against the ability of unions to strike," Pelosi said, but "we must avoid a strike." Union leaders said forcing workers into contracts without paid sick leave goes against their interests.

2

Thanksgiving weekend shopping sets records

The National Retail Federation said Tuesday that a record 196 million Americans shopped in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend, getting the crucial holiday shopping season off to a strong start despite the highest inflation in decades. The number of people making purchases over the weekend bookended by Black Friday and Cyber Monday was up 10 percent over past year. "As inflationary pressures persist, consumers have responded by stretching their dollars in any way possible," NRF chief executive Matthew Shay said in a press release. Consumers spent $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, up 5.8 percent from last year, setting an annual sales record, according to Adobe Analytics.

3

Twitter ends COVID misinformation policy

Twitter has stopped enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy, one of the latest changes since Elon Musk acquired the social media company for $44 billion in October, promising to make it a haven for "free speech." Twitter didn't formally announce the rule change, but early this week users spotted a note on the web page outlining Twitter's COVID policy: "Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy." Twitter implemented the policy in 2020 to combat harmful misinformation about the coronavirus and its accompanying vaccines. Musk has also restored many previously banned accounts and fired half of Twitter's workers, including content moderators. The moves raised concerns that false claims about the coronavirus could rise.

4

Stock futures rise slightly ahead of Fed chair speech

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Wednesday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that could provide clues about the central bank's plans for future interest-rate hikes. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.1 and 0.2 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 0.3 percent. Fed leaders are expected to raise interest rates by 0.5 percentage points at their next meeting, dialing back after four consecutive 0.75-point increases aimed at cooling the economy to bring down high inflation. "This is a Fed-made recession, so eventually when he does pivot, the market should move higher pretty quickly," Steve Grasso, CEO of Grasso Global, told CNBC's Fast Money.

5

AMC Networks cuts jobs, seeks new CEO

AMC Networks Chair James Dolan said in a staff memo Tuesday that the company is laying off 20 percent of its staff, about 200 people, and that CEO Christina Spade would be leaving. AMC didn't give a reason for Spade's departure, igniting speculation that the company was preparing for a possible merger. Dolan said "the mechanisms for the monetization of content are in disarray," with "large-scale layoffs" and "cuts to every operating area" necessary to put the company back on track. The news came days after Disney announced the sudden departure of CEO Bob Chapek after heavy quarterly streaming losses. Disney and streaming video rivals Warner Bros Discover, Paramount Global, and the CW also have cut jobs.

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