The daily business briefing: October 29, 2020

Stocks struggle to rebound after worst day in months, Trump opens Tongass National Forest to logging, and more

A logging truck
(Image credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

1. Stocks plummet as new coronavirus cases hit record

U.S. stocks nosedived on Wednesday as record daily increases in coronavirus cases fed concerns that renewed restrictions could derail the global economic recovery. Public health officials confirmed more than 73,200 new U.S. cases on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by 3.4 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 3.7 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 3.5 percent, leaving it more than 7 percent below its early September record close. "A month ago, the narrative in the market was very much that lockdowns would be limited and targeted, and so would have a smaller impact on the economy," said Hugh Gimber, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "But now, what we are seeing is broader concerns that lockdowns might be wider and have a much wider impact." France announced a second national lockdown Wednesday as infections continued to surge in Europe. Stock futures rose early Thursday, struggling to rebound from the worst drop in months.

The Wall Street Journal CNBC

2. Trump opens Tongass National Forest to logging

President Trump is opening Alaska's Tongass National Rainforest for logging, road-building, and other development, according to a notice posted Wednesday in the federal register. The administration is stripping two-decade-old protections for 9.3 million acres of old-growth red and yellow cedar, Sitka spruce, and Western hemlock. Tongass is one of the world's largest intact temperate rainforests, and serves as a sink for the continental U.S.'s carbon emissions. "It's America's last climate sanctuary," said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Earth Island Institute's Wild Heritage project. Alaska Republicans have recently sought to exempt Tongass from those protections to develop southeastern Alaska. All five Alaska Native tribal nations withdrew from working as cooperating agencies, saying the process "disregarded our input at every turn."

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The Washington Post

3. Social media leaders reject bias allegations

Facebook, Google, and Twitter defended themselves against allegations of anti-conservative bias Wednesday at a Senate hearing. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google leader Sundar Pichai said their companies were working with news organizations to distribute accurate information and prevent foreign actors from influencing voters with lies and incitement of violence over the results in next Tuesday's elections. Twitter's Jack Dorsey said his company was working with state election officials "to give people using the service as much information as possible." Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) cited Twitter's blocking of a newspaper article on unverified emails about the business dealings of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son, Hunter, as part of "a pattern of censorship and silencing Americans with whom Twitter disagrees."

The Associated Press

4. Tupperware shares skyrocket as pandemic fuels food-storage demand

Tupperware Brands Corp.'s stock soared on Wednesday, gaining as much as 41 percent after the food storage products company reported quarterly profit and sales that smashed Wall Street's expectations. Tupperware was expected to do well due to increased demand as Americans spend more time cooking at home. Miguel Fernandez, the former Avon Products president who took over as Tupperware's chief in March, also credited "rapid adoption of digital tools by our sales force to combat the social restrictions surrounding COVID-19." Tupperware's net income rose to $34.4 million from $7.8 million, an increase of more than 300 percent over the year. North America sales jumped 42 percent. Tupperware shares are now up 2,500 percent since mid-March.

Fox Business

5. LVMH and Tiffany agree to lower price after takeover dispute

French luxury goods powerhouse LVMH agreed Thursday to acquire U.S. jeweler Tiffany & Co at a slightly reduced price, ending their dispute over Tiffany's value after damage from the coronavirus pandemic. LVMH — owner of the Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, and Louis Vuitton brands — now will pay $131.5 per share in the $16 billion takeover, down from $135 a share in the original deal. The deal amounts to a $425 million discount for LVMH, but still will be the biggest ever for the luxury sector. "We are as convinced as ever of the formidable potential of the Tiffany brand and believe that LVMH is the right home for Tiffany and its employees during this exciting next chapter," said LVMH's leader, billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault, in a statement.


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