The daily business briefing: May 22, 2023
Debt ceiling deadline weighs on the economy, SpaceX sends private citizens to ISS, and more
Debt limit threat already taking economic toll
President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are meeting Monday to work on a deal to raise the debt ceiling before the U.S. Treasury runs out of money around June 1. But the uncertainty over whether they will meet the deadline is already taking a toll on the U.S. economy. Short-term borrowing costs have risen as investors demand higher yields on government bonds, and small businesses are starting to brace for a default, delayed payments, and jobs cuts. Financial markets are still expecting a deal, but the economy is wobbly and market confidence could turn quickly, MFS Investment Management strategist Robert Almeida told The New York Times. "When the herd moves, it tends to move really fast and in a violent way."
SpaceX launches private citizens to International Space Station
SpaceX on Sunday launched a four-person crew on a mission to the International Space Station. The team includes former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and three paying customers, including stem cell researcher Rayyanah Barnawi, the first woman from Saudi Arabia to go to space. "I am very honored and happy to be representing all the dreams and all the hopes of all the people in Saudi Arabia and all the women back home," Barnawi told reporters before her journey. The spacecraft is expected to dock with the ISS at 9:24 a.m. ET Monday, with the crew spending about eight days there. The trip, dubbed AX-2, was put together by Axiom Space, and is the second all-private mission to the ISS, CNN reported.
Rights groups warn Black, LGBTQ tourists to avoid Florida
The NAACP issued a travel advisory over the weekend cautioning Black and gay or trans tourists that "Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals." The civil rights group added that Florida now "devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color." The NAACP advisory joins similar warnings issued last week by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the gay rights group Equality Florida. All three warnings cite laws recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Those banning gender-affirming care and loosening gun laws "pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling to the state," Equality Florida said. Tourism is one of Florida's biggest industries.
'Fast X' zooms into the top spot at weekend box office
"Fast X," the 10th installment in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, had a strong opening weekend at the box office, bringing in $67.5 million domestically and $251.4 million internationally. Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst for Comscore, told The Wall Street Journal that "over the past several years, the 'Fast and Furious' has been earning the lion's share of its box office outside the U.S." The first "Fast & Furious" movie was released in June 2001, and Universal said its longest-running franchise is also its most profitable, earning $6 billion worldwide. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" brought in $32.7 million over the weekend, coming in second at the domestic box office, followed by "Super Mario Bros." with $9.8 million and "Book Club: Next Chapter" with $3 million.
Stock futures steady as Wall Street awaits debt ceiling talks
Stock futures were holding steady Monday morning as the markets awaited the outcome of a "key meeting" between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on raising the debt ceiling. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were flat around 6:30 a.m. ET. Futures for the Dow were up slightly by 0.2%. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday warned the chances the U.S. can pay all its bills by mid-June were "quite low." Republicans temporarily abandoned talks on Friday, sending stocks falling. "Friday there was a bit of a setback but there's a bit more optimism after the weekend," Francesco Pesole, FX strategist at ING, told Reuters.