The daily business briefing: August 7, 2023

Texas power prices soar in extreme heat, "Barbie" hits the billion-dollar mark, and more

(Image credit: VALERIE MACON / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Texas power prices soar as heat spurs record demand

Texas power prices jumped more than 800% on Sunday as extreme heat sent demand for electricity skyrocketing to record levels. Electricity prices on the state's grid reached more than $2,500 per megawatt-hour for Sunday evening as people across the state cranked up air-conditioning. The high on Saturday was about $275, according to data from grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The surplus of available capacity versus power consumption narrowed to as little as 1.6 gigawatts, a level that can trigger emergency responses, although the grid operator said it had other reserves to help it meet peak demand. ERCOT issued a weather watch that will remain in effect through Monday "due to forecast higher temperatures, higher demand and potential lower reserves."


2. 'Barbie' reaches the $1 billion milestone

"Barbie" dominated the domestic box office for a third straight weekend and reached the $1 billion milestone after just 17 days in theaters. The movie about the iconic Mattel doll, directed by Greta Gerwig, brought in another $53 million in North America ticket sales, down just 43% from the previous week. That was enough to lift its domestic total to $459 million and make Gerwig the first woman director to pass the billion-dollar mark in global sales. Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" had another strong weekend with $28.7 million in North America, down 39% from last weekend. It slipped into third place behind the sequel to "The Meg" and ahead of "Mutant Mayhem."

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3. Stock futures rise ahead of inflation data

U.S. stock futures rose early Monday following a losing week that ended with a jobs report that showed hiring continued to slow in July but remained strong. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.2% and 0.3%, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 0.4%. The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs in July, fewer than economists expected. The data added to evidence that the economy is cooling as a result of the Federal Reserve's aggressive campaign to raise interest rates to fight inflation. Investors are awaiting consumer and producer price index data later this week for further clues on whether the Fed will need to continue raising rates.

CNBC The New York Times

4. Saudi Aramco reports sharp second-quarter profit drop

Saudi Arabia's state-run oil giant, Aramco, on Monday reported $30 billion in second-quarter profit, down nearly 40% from the same period last year. Aramco blamed the drop on lower oil prices and "weakening refining and chemicals margins." Sales came in at $106 billion, down from $150 billion in the same period last year. Still, Aramco raised its dividend payout to $29.4 billion, up from $18.8 billion in the second quarter of 2022. The increase was partly due to last year's record earnings. Many major oil companies reported record earnings in the second quarter of 2022 after Western sanctions against Russia, a major oil exporter, worsened a global supply shortage.

The Associated Press Reuters

5. Daimler Truck CFO Jochen Goetz dies in 'tragic accident'

Daimler Truck's chief financial officer, Jochen Goetz, died in a "tragic accident" over the weekend, the company said Sunday. Daimler released no further details. Goetz, 52, led the successful spin-off of Daimler Truck from the Mercedes-Benz Group in December 2021. "He played a key role in shaping today's Daimler Truck company and, as CFO, consistently worked to ensure that the company is now more economically successful than ever before," CEO Martin Daum said. The company said Goetz was known for "his positive, hands-on manner." Goetz had been CFO since July 2021.

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.