The daily business briefing: February 28, 2023
Biden administration cracks down on child-labor violations, U.K. and EU reach post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland, and more
U.K., EU reach 'decisive' post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland
Britain and the European Union reached a deal Monday ending their dispute over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said during a press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the agreement marked a "decisive" breakthrough that offered a "long-lasting" solution to a key sticking point in Britain's divorce deal with the European trading bloc. The agreement, known as the Windsor Framework, will result in "smooth flowing trade" within the United Kingdom that "safeguards" Northern Ireland's rights, Sunak said. Von der Leyen said the deal showed that the EU and U.K. remain "close partners." Sunak has promised lawmakers a vote on the plan, which some in his ruling Conservative Party have yet to endorse.
Biden administration announces crackdown on child-labor violations
The Biden administration on Monday announced that it was cracking down on child labor violations. The move came after a New York Times investigation documented a sharp rise in exploitation of migrant child labor, as record numbers of children cross the southern border without parents or guardians and some wind up in grueling, dangerous jobs. "Too frequently, employers who contract for services are not vigilant about who is working in their facilities," the Labor Department said in a statement. The Labor Department said it would target factories and suppliers that use child labor, as well as the companies that rely on them for products.
Hyundai recalls thousands of cars over possible exploding seatbelts
Hyundai on Monday recalled 65,517 Genesis SUVs and sedans over faulty seat belt pretensioners — which tighten the belts in a crash — that can explode in some accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The explosions can "cause metal fragments to enter the vehicle occupant compartment, which may result in injury to vehicle occupants," the NHTSA said in its report. Hyundai told the NHTSA it would notify owners of the vehicles in April, and offer free repairs at authorized Hyundai dealerships. This is not the first time that Hyundai has seen issues with exploding seatbelts. The South Korean automaker had to recall 239,000 cars in May 2022 over a similar problem with pretensioners in Accent and Elantra models.
Altria in advanced talks to buy e-cigarette startup NJOY
Marlboro maker Altria is close to a deal to buy e-cigarette startup NJOY Holdings Inc. for $2.75 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The company also plans to shed its 35 percent stake in Juul Labs, which it bought for $38 billion in 2018 before the company, which dominated the vaping market, spiraled downward. Regulators accused Juul of targeting minors, and the company was pushed close to bankruptcy as it faced a wave of lawsuits. It has reached settlements but its future remains uncertain, as it continues to battle with the Food and Drug Administration to keep its products on the U.S. market, according to The Wall Street Journal. Altria now puts Juul's value around $714 million.
Stock futures edge higher as down month closes
U.S. stock futures were little changed early Tuesday ahead of the last day of February trading. Wall Street is on track to end its second negative month in three months in a pullback after a rally at the start of the year, although the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq remain positive in 2023. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up about 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, on Monday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.6 percent. Shares of Zoom Video jumped 8 percent in extended trading after the video conferencing company posted fourth quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations.