Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 9, 2018

U.S. stocks try to regroup after another 1,000-point drop, Congress passes a spending deal to end a brief government shutdown, and more

1

Stock futures struggle to recover after Dow's second 1,000-point drop

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged by 1,033 points on Thursday, its second four-digit drop this week. The 4.1 percent drop, along with Monday's 1,175-point dive, erased the blue-chip index's 2018 gains. The Monday and Thursday declines were the Dow's only two 1,000-plus-point one-day losses ever. The S&P 500 fell by 3.75 percent Thursday as investors worried rising economic growth and wages will push the Federal Reserve to speed up interest rate hikes to stem rising inflation. The losses left the S&P and the Dow 10 percent below their January highs, the official threshold of a market correction. President Trump, who had claimed credit for recent stock gains, said investors who sell now are making a "big mistake." Global stocks sank Friday; U.S. stock futures were mixed and volatile, with the S&P edging up.

2

Congress passes spending deal to end hours-long shutdown

Congress approved a budget deal early Friday, hours after a deadline passed forcing a partial government shutdown, the second in a month. The House passed the two-year agreement shortly after the Senate did, clearing the way to end the hours-long shutdown. The Senate vote was delayed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in a protest against $300 billion in new military and non-defense spending over two years, but Paul's call for an amendment maintaining existing budget caps was denied. The measure moved on to the House, where it was not considered a sure thing. Republican fiscal conservatives were upset that it will add to the deficit, and Democrats wanted to add protections for young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers.

3

Amazon offers Prime members free Whole Foods deliveries in four cities

Amazon fired the latest salvo in the grocery wars on Thursday with the introduction of free, two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores to Prime members in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach. Customers in those cities can order fresh produce, meat, seafood, and other items from local Whole Foods outlets, provided they are customers of the $99-a-year Prime delivery service. The service is available during Whole Foods store hours, which typically run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Amazon has been integrating Whole Foods step-by-step into its online operations since buying the chain of high-end organic supermarkets for $13.7 billion last June. Whole Foods is the nation's fifth biggest grocer behind Walmart, Kroger, Costco, and Albertsons.

4

New York Times revenue rises thanks to digital subscription gains

The New York Times Company said Thursday that its overall subscription revenue rose to $1 billion last year, thanks partly to the addition of 157,000 digital-only subscribers in the fourth quarter. The Times now has more than 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions, which give customers access to news, cooking, and crossword products. Mark Thompson, the Times' chief executive, said the company had "continued strong retention" of users it picked up during the tense 2016 presidential election season. The Times posted an 8 percent rise in total revenue for the year to $1.7 billion.

5

U.S. airlines cut bumped-passenger rates to all-time low

U.S. airlines cut the rate by which passengers were bumped from crowded flights to the lowest level on record last year, the Department of Transportation said Thursday. Passengers lost their seats involuntarily at a rate of just 0.34 per 10,000, down sharply from 0.62 per 10,000 in 2016. Major airlines made a commitment to address routine overbooking after a backlash over the forceful removal of a United Airlines passenger, which was caught on video. Delta Air Lines, the second largest U.S. carrier by passenger traffic, posted the lowest rate of denials, 0.05 per 10,000, while American, the biggest U.S. carrier, bumped 0.38 per 10,000.

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