The daily business briefing: September 7, 2023

Biden blocks oil drilling in much of Arctic Alaska, China bars government officials from using iPhones at work, and more

Pipeline in Alaska
(Image credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

1. Biden blocks oil drilling in much of Arctic Alaska

The Biden administration announced Wednesday it would ban oil and gas drilling in 13 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and cancel drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The decisions marked the administration's most forceful step yet to protect pristine federal lands from energy exploration. The moves would not, however, stop the $8 billion Willow oil drilling project President Biden signed off on in March, angering climate activists who called it a "carbon bomb." Biden said the new protections would "help preserve our Arctic lands and wildlife, while honoring the culture, history and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived on these lands since time immemorial."

The New York Times

2. China bars officials from using iPhones at work

China has barred officials at central government agencies from using iPhones and other foreign-branded devices for work, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening, citing people familiar with the matter. The ban, which comes as Beijing pushes to increase cybersecurity and reduce reliance on foreign technology, could "have a chilling effect for foreign brands in China, including Apple," according to the Journal. Apple dominates China's high-end smartphone market, and gets 19% of its overall revenue from China. Beijing has previously limited the use of iPhones for work, but the new order broadened the policy. It mirrors U.S. bans on gear made by China's Huawei Technologies, which just released a smartphone with its most advanced homegrown chip yet.

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The Wall Street Journal

3. Texas grid operator declares brief power emergency due to extreme heat

Texas on Wednesday declared a brief Level 2 power emergency due to electricity shortages caused by soaring temperatures. It was the state's first power grid emergency since a historic freeze caused blackouts in February 2021, contributing to hundreds of deaths and leaving millions of people stuck in freezing homes, according to Bloomberg. The state's grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), lifted the emergency measures later in the day and declared it was returning to normal operations. Still, ERCOT urged its more than 26 million customers to reduce their power use after it had to draw on reserves and came close to resorting to rolling blackouts.

Bloomberg Reuters

4. S&P 500, Nasdaq futures slip as interest rate concerns persist

S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures dropped early Thursday as investors remained concerned the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates again this year to fight inflation. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively, at 7 a.m. ET. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were flat. The S&P 500 and the Dow dropped 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively, on Wednesday. The Nasdaq fell 1.1%, weighed down by declines of more than 3% for Apple and Nvidia. Treasury yields remained high, pressuring the stocks of tech companies that rely on growth and increasing investor concerns that recent better-than-expected economic data could justify more Fed rate hikes.


5. Chinese exports fall for 4th straight month

China reported Thursday that the value of its exports fell 8.8% in August compared to a year earlier, the fourth consecutive month of declines. Imports fell by 7.3%, according to China's General Administration of Customs. The figures added to recent signs of trouble in the world's second largest economy, where slumping growth and home prices have dented consumer and investor confidence, according to The New York Times. The numbers weren't quite as bad as expected. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a 9.2% drop in exports and a 9% decline for imports. One reason for China's troubles: Consumers around the world stocked up on Chinese manufactured goods during the pandemic and are now spending on travel, dining out and services.

The New York Times

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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.