The daily business briefing: January 8, 2021
Facebook extends Trump suspension until after Inauguration Day, Boeing agrees to pay $2.5 billion to settle 737 Max charge, and more
Facebook extends suspension of Trump accounts
Facebook announced Thursday it was extending a temporary block on President Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the suspension was necessary because Trump's encouragement of a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday showed he planned to "use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transfer of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden." Zuckerberg said the risks of letting Trump continue to use the company's platforms were "simply too great," so it was "extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete." Twitter temporarily locked Trump's account Wednesday and threatened "permanent suspension," saying Trump had committed "severe" violations of the company's civil integrity policy.
DOJ: Boeing to pay $2.5 billion in 737 Max settlement
The Justice Department said Thursday that Boeing has agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion to resolve a charge that the aircraft maker conspired to deceive regulators during the review of the 737 Max jet, which was grounded after two deadly crashes that killed 346 people. The disasters "exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct" by Boeing employees, said David Burns, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "Boeing's employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception," Burns said in a statement. Boeing has admitted two of its technical pilots deceived regulators about a software system that has been identified as a cause of the crashes.
Shopify suspends two Trump-related online stores
E-commerce company Shopify said Thursday it had closed two online stores associated with President Trump, saying the sites violated its policy against organizations or people "that threaten or condone violence to further a cause." The sites are run by the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign. Visitors to sites including TrumpStore.com and shop.donaldjtrump.com got messages that the sites were not available. Cached versions of the sites showed merchandise such as $45 pairs of Trump-branded champagne flutes and $30 "Make America Great Again" hats. Other sites selling Trump merchandise remained active, including OfficialTrump2020store.com and Trump-Hats.com. "Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy," a Shopify representative said.
Stocks hit records despite Capitol chaos
U.S. stock indexes surged to the latest in a series of record highs on Thursday after Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden's election victory despite an attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.6 percent to close above 13,000 for the first time, boosted by big tech gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 surged 1.5 percent. Both also set records. Markets "didn't care" about the "disgraceful" Washington turmoil, said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, "because it has no bearing on the direction of the economy, earnings, and interest rates." Stock futures gained early Friday ahead of a December jobs report expected to show the coronavirus surge hurt hiring.
Biden picks leaders for Commerce, Labor departments
President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) as commerce secretary, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) as labor secretary, according to Thursday news reports. The two secretaries wield considerable power over business and labor issues, including workplace safety, protecting American industry, and labor relations. Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, has been at odds with labor unions, but Walsh has strong support from leaders at the powerful AFL-CIO. Biden also has picked Isabel Guzman to head the Small Business Administration, the agency that manages loans under the Paycheck Protection Program and other pandemic-related programs. Guzman was a deputy chief of staff at the agency during former President Barack Obama's administration.