The daily business briefing: January 8, 2020

Harold Maass
An exhaust plume
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

1.

Airlines reroute Middle East flights to avoid U.S.-Iran conflict

Commercial airlines on Wednesday rerouted flights from the Middle East due to the danger posed by possible military action by the U.S. and Iran. The move came after Iran launched ballistic missile strikes against an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops on Tuesday, in retaliation for a drone strike that killed Iran's top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad. Australian carrier Qantas altered its routes to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace; Malaysia Airlines also said it would avoid the area. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration said it was ordering U.S. pilots and airlines to stay out of Iranian, Iraqi, and some Persian Gulf airspace to avoid the "potential for miscalculation and mis-identification." [The Associated Press]

2.

Report: U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.1 percent in 2019

The United States saw a 2.1 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 — largely due to a decrease in coal consumption for power. But the U.S. has made little progress in limiting emissions elsewhere, according to a report by research company Rhodium Group. Coal-fired power generation fell by 18 percent in 2019 — the largest year-on-year decline in U.S. history — reaching its lowest level since 1975. The majority of that decline is from the switch to natural gas and renewables, the report states. Emissions from 2019 fell 12 percent below that of 2005 — 5 percent shy of the goal set by the Copenhagen Accord for the end of 2020. The U.S. pledged a 26 to 28 percent reduction by 2025 in the Paris Agreement, which the Trump administration is working to withdraw from. [The Washington Post, Rhodium Group]

3.

U.S. stock futures bounce back after Iranian missile attack

U.S. stock index futures fell early Wednesday as an Iranian missile attack against an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops stoked fears of an escalating military conflict in the oil-rich region, then rebounded after the attack proved less damaging than feared. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average turned slightly positive, climbing back from a decline of more than 0.3 percent. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also gained after reversing earlier losses ahead of the opening bell. Iran's response to the U.S. drone strike that killed its top military commander in Baghdad also triggered a rise in oil prices. Gold prices rose, too, as investors sought safe assets. [CNBC]

4.

Impossible Foods drops talks with McDonald's

Impossible Foods has stopped trying to win a deal to supply McDonald's with plant-based burgers because it can't produce enough imitation beef, Reuters reported Tuesday. Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown said in an interview that "it would be stupid" for the company, which already supplies several chains including Burger King, to try to land the world's biggest fast-food chain and other major customers, because that "doesn't do us any good until we scale up production." McDonald's in September launched a 12-week test of a plant-based burger in Canada using patties made by Beyond Meat, a rival of Impossible Foods, but McDonald's has not introduced one of the burgers as a regular offering in its 14,000 U.S. restaurants. Beyond Meat shares jumped and closed up by 12.5 percent after Reuters reported that Impossible had ended talks with the fast-food giant. [Reuters]

5.

Report: Macy's closing 19 stores in coming months

Macy's is closing at least 19 stores by spring, USA Today reported Tuesday, citing local media reports. Corporate officials declined to confirm the number and location of the stores that are shutting down, but said they would "provide an update at our Investor Day on Feb. 5." Clearance sales, which typically run for two to three months, are starting this month in at least one Florida store, a Macy's spokesperson said in an email to a South Florida newspaper that is part of the USA Today Network. The news came a day after Pier 1 Imports announced it would close nearly half of its 942 stores as retailers continue to struggle against online and big-box rivals. [USA Today]