The daily business briefing: September 30, 2020

Harold Maass
Disney fans
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

1.

Disney laying off 28,000 employees as pandemic devastates theme parks

Disney on Tuesday told employees it was going to have to lay off 28,000 employees across the entertainment giant's parks, experiences, and consumer products division. The cuts were necessary to offset losses at parks that have remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and low attendance at parks that have reopened. About 67 percent of the employees being laid off were part-timers, Josh D'Amaro, head of parks at Disney, wrote in the letter. Disney's theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan, and Hong Kong have reopened but with limited capacity, while both California Adventure and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, have remained closed. D'Amaro wrote in the letter that management had "worked tirelessly" to avoid layoffs, but cutting expenses and capital projects didn't save enough money. [CNBC]

2.

JPMorgan Chase agrees to $920 million market-manipulation settlement

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $920 million to settle Justice Department market-manipulation investigations. The fine is the biggest the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have ever imposed over a type of market manipulation called spoofing, in which people enter and quickly cancel large orders to deceive others about the supply and demand associated with a commodity or bond. Under the settlement, JPMorgan also will admit misconduct tied to manipulation of precious-metals and Treasury markets, the CFTC said. "The conduct of the individuals referenced in today's resolutions is unacceptable and they are no longer with the firm," said Daniel Pinto, co-president of JPMorgan Chase and CEO of the Corporate & Investment Bank. [The Wall Street Journal]

3.

Stock futures fall after contentious Trump-Biden debate

U.S. stock index futures plunged early Wednesday after the chaotic first debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were down by nearly 1 percent several hours before the opening bell. The candidates clashed over the economy, the Supreme Court, and Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden is leading in the polls, but Trump said he expected to do well, although he said the result might not be clear "for months" due to an expected surge in mail-in voting. "It was a long night and there's a lot that needs to be sorted out," said Daniel Deming, managing director at KKM Financial. "It became pretty apparent that this thing is not going to be over on Nov. 3 and I think the market is probably not too crazy about that." [CNBC]

3.

Moderna coronavirus vaccine shows promise in older adults

Researchers said Tuesday that Moderna's coronavirus vaccine candidate produced virus-neutralizing antibodies in older adults that were similar to levels in younger adults. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also found that side effects from the vaccine were similar to those from high-dose flu shots. The side effects included headache, fatigue, body aches, and chills. "They might feel off or have a fever," said Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study's lead researchers from Emory University in Atlanta. Anderson said the findings were reassuring, because immunity normally weakens with age. Moderna is testing the higher doses it researched in a large Phase III trial, the last hurdle before it can request emergency authorization or approval. [Reuters]

5.

Boeing consolidates 787 Dreamliner production in South Carolina

Boeing this week is expected to firm up plans to concentrate its 787 Dreamliner assembly operations in South Carolina, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The decision means the aircraft maker will end production of the jetliner in Washington state, a blow to the Seattle-area economy and Boeing's unionized workforce there. Boeing announced in July that it was looking into ways to respond to falling demand as the coronavirus pandemic reduces air travel. Earlier this year, Boeing said it was cutting production and trimming about 10 percent of its workforce. [The Wall Street Journal]