The daily business briefing: October 26, 2020

Harold Maass
A Dunkin' sign
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

1.

Stocks futures dive after new coronavirus infections hit record

U.S. stock index futures dropped sharply early Monday after new coronavirus infections surpassed 80,000 on Friday and Saturday, breaking the previous single-day record of 77,300 set in July. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were all down by about 1 percent several hours before the opening bell. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the U.S. would not bring the pandemic under control, and several close aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive. The major indexes are still on track to finish October with modest gains. Wall Street is heading into a big week of corporate earnings reports, with Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, Boeing, and Caterpillar all reporting later in the coming days. [CNBC]

2.

Report: Dunkin' Brands in talks to go private

Dunkin' Brands is in talks to sell itself to private equity-backed company Inspire Brands, The New York Times reported Sunday. The deal, which would value the parent company of the Dunkin' and Baskin Robbins chains at $8.8 billion, could be announced as soon as Monday. The plan under discussion is to take Dunkin' Brands private at a price of $106.50 per share, a 20 percent premium over the stock's Friday closing price. The stock has more than doubled since March thanks to the company's success boosting its app and drive-through services. Dunkin' Brands confirmed the talks in a Sunday statement but added, "There is no certainty that any agreement will be reached. Neither group will comment further unless and until a transaction is agreed." [The New York Times]

3.

State Department halts diversity training programs

The State Department said Sunday that it had halted employee diversity and inclusion training programs. Reuters reported earlier over the weekend that an internal State Department cable indicated that the programs had been paused after President Trump last month issued an executive order ending such programs, which the White House has called "divisive," including any teaching by federal agencies that the United States is "fundamentally racist or sexist." Despite the change, the State Department said it remained committed to increasing diversity in the workplace. "As an Executive Branch Agency, the Department of State complies with all Executive Orders," a department said in an email, Reuters reported. [Reuters]

4.

Factories struggle to keep up with shopping surge

U.S. manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the demand for goods as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and Americans snap up everything from cars to paint, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. Factory production fell early in the crisis due to shutdowns intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Output of consumer products has bounced back, but supply-chain disruptions, worker absences, and other obstacles are making it hard for companies to keep up with still-surging purchases of home-improvement products and other goods by people forced to spend more time at home. "We do not have the inventory on the new side or the preowned side to meet the demand that's out there,” said Mike Jackson, chief executive for AutoNation Inc., the U.S.'s largest publicly traded dealership chain. [The Wall Street Journal]

5.

Delta puts 460 on 'no-fly list' for refusing to wear masks

Delta Air Lines says in a new memo that it has barred more than 400 people from its airliners because they have refused to comply with the airline's requirement for passengers to wear masks during flights. "As of this week, we've added 460 people to our no-fly list for refusing to comply with our mask requirement," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a message to employees. The airline started requiring passengers to wear masks May 4. It said in August that it had banned about 270 passengers. All major U.S. airlines now require face coverings during flights. The federal government has not imposed regulations to prevent infections during air travel, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it "strongly recommends" wearing masks on flights. [CNN]