The daily business briefing: September 5, 2023

Country Garden avoids default by making overdue interest payment, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce steps down, and more

Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and successor Vanessa Hudson
(Image credit: Lisa Maree Williams / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

1. Country Garden makes late interest payment to avoid default

Chinese real estate giant Country Garden has met a deadline to make an overdue interest payment, avoiding a default on its debt, several news outlets reported Tuesday, citing people close to the company. Country Garden, China's biggest property developer and one of the world's most indebted, missed the initial due date of Aug. 7 on $22.5 million in interest on a pair of dollar bonds, but had a grace period ending Sept. 5-6. The payments bought Country Garden time to deal with its $187 billion in liabilities. The company's debt crisis threatens to spread through China's real estate sector and damage the broader economy, which has sputtered since a brief recovery that followed the lifting of tough Covid restrictions.


2. Qantas chief Alan Joyce steps down

Qantas Airways announced Monday that CEO Alan Joyce was stepping down two months earlier than previously planned. He will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson, who will be the first woman to run the century-old airline. Joyce's departure came after several missteps damaged the Australian carrier's reputation, with the scrutiny amplified by the company's record profits. Australia's competition regulator last week sued Qantas for allegedly selling tickets on more than 8,000 flights last year despite knowing they had been canceled. The airline also had to reverse a decision to let nearly $323 million worth of pandemic-era flight credits expire, after a backlash from politicians and the public. On Monday, Qantas apologized for falling short of service standards.

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3. Disney urges Spectrum customers to switch to Hulu with live TV

Disney on Monday encouraged Spectrum cable TV customers to switch to Hulu's streaming service with live TV. The push, which Disney made in a blog post, came after the company pulled ABC, ESPN and other Disney-owned channels from Spectrum's lineup due to a dispute between the two companies about fees. "Despite the ongoing dispute, consumers have many other choices — such as Hulu + Live TV — that allow them to enjoy the great programming for which Disney Entertainment is known," Disney — which owns a majority stake in Hulu — said in a statement. Earlier, Spectrum had urged customers to try out alternatives like FuboTV for continued access to ESPN and other Disney channels.

NBC Sports Reuters

4. Stock futures slip to start holiday-shortened week

U.S. stock futures fell slightly early Tuesday ahead of a holiday-shortened trading week. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.3%. The Dow and the Nasdaq gained 1.4% and 3.3%, respectively, last week, their best weeks since July. The S&P 500 had its best week since June, rising 2.5%. The gains followed fresh data indicating a cooling economy and easing price increases, which could lead the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates to fight inflation. The August jobs report released Friday showed that unemployment had risen to 3.8%, the highest in more than a year.


5. 'Barbie' becomes top box office hit of 2023

"Barbie" has surpassed "The Super Mario Bros Movie" to become this year's biggest blockbuster. "Barbie" — a fantasy adventure about the iconic Mattel doll — has brought in $1.38 billion globally, inching past "Mario Bros," with $1.36 billion in ticket sales. "Barbenheimer" — the same-day release of Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" and Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" — has lifted the domestic summer box office above $4 billion for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But industry analysts said the rest of the year could be weaker because films like "Dune: Part II," "Kraven the Hunter," and the "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" sequel have been pushed back to 2024 due to the Hollywood strike, which prevents actors from promoting studio films.

BBC News

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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.