The daily business briefing: November 24, 2020

Harold Maass
The GM logo
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

1.

Stock futures rise as Trump stops blocking Biden transition

U.S. stock index futures surged early Tuesday after the Trump administration announced it would stop blocking the transition process as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take over in January. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by more than 1 percent. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were up by 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, several hours before the opening bell. The Dow rose by 1 percent on Monday, with a boost from AstraZeneca's announcement that trials showed its coronavirus vaccine candidate was at least 70 percent effective, and 90 percent effective in patients who received a half-dose, then a full dose later. Markets also reacted positively to news that Biden would nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary. [CNBC]

2.

GM CEO drops support for Trump auto emissions fight

General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Monday withdrew the automaker's support for President Trump's effort to deprive California of its authority to raise fuel economy standards. Barra wrote in a letter to leaders of some of the biggest U.S. environmental groups that the company was preparing to work with President-elect Joe Biden on his push to reduce climate-warming emissions. "President-elect Biden recently said, 'I believe that we can own the 21st century car market again by moving to electric vehicles.' We at General Motors couldn't agree more," Barra wrote in the letter. Barra urged Toyota and Fiat Chrysler to join GM, one of the world's largest automakers, in pulling support for the Trump administration's litigation against California. [The New York Times]

3.

Biden to name Yellen as Treasury secretary

President-elect Joe Biden plans to name former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be his Treasury secretary, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with his Cabinet picks. Yellen would be the first woman to run the Treasury Department. Yellen, an economist, also would be the first person ever to serve as leader of the Treasury, the Fed, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Biden's transition team also said Monday that the president-elect would nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Homeland Security Department. He would be the first Latino and the first immigrant in that post. Other appointees include Avril Haines as director of national intelligence — the first woman in that job — and former Secretary of State John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate change. [The Wall Street Journal, NPR]

4.

Snapchat offers $1 million to lucky users of new TikTok rival

Snapchat is launching a new TikTok competitor and unveiling plans to distribute $1 million daily among some lucky users. On Monday, Snapchat began rolling out Spotlight, a new video tab that will highlight popular videos in the app as the company looks to compete with both TikTok and Instagram Reels. For at least the rest of the year, Snapchat said it will be giving out $1 million daily to users who submit the most popular Spotlight videos. It's unclear how much money one person could earn from Spotlight in a day. The minimum amount will be $250, BuzzFeed News reports. This, Variety wrote, was a "bid by Snap to keep top creative talent on its platform" rather than TikTok and Instagram Reels. [Axios, CNN]

5.

Retail group predicts strong holiday sales despite pandemic

The National Retail Federation said Monday that holiday sales growth this year could be better than the average growth in recent years despite the coronavirus pandemic. The nation's largest retail trade group predicted that November and December sales would increase by 3.6 percent to 5.2 percent compared to 2019, ranging from $755.3 billion to $766.7 billion. Holiday-season sales increased by 4 percent last year compared to the previous year, and have averaged 3.5 percent gains over the past five years. "After all they've been through, we think there's going to be a psychological factor that [consumers] owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. [The Associated Press]