The daily business briefing: January 14, 2021
Airbnb cancels D.C.-area reservations in inauguration week, J&J trials show one-shot vaccine is safe and effective, and more
Airbnb cancels reservations in D.C. during inauguration week
Airbnb announced Wednesday that it would cancel all reservations in the Washington, D.C., area during the week of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. The home-rental company said it made the decision after detecting Airbnb accounts for people "either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building." Airbnb justified the move by citing reports about "armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration." The company said it would refund guests who had already made payments, and reimburse hosts the money for the bookings being scrapped. Airbnb said it also was banning users who participated in the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, or have been linked to hate groups.
Johnson & Johnson trials show single-shot vaccine effective
Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine proved safe and provoked an immune response in young and elderly volunteers alike, according to trial results published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Most trial participants got just one shot of a high or low vaccine dose, or a placebo, although some people aged 18 to 55 got two doses. Most of the volunteers who got the vaccine produced the neutralizing antibodies, which defend cells from the virus, after 28 days. Researchers reported some side effects, including fever, fatigue, headache, and pain at the injection site. Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at J&J, said the data gave the company "confidence" the vaccine will prove highly effective. Results from the larger phase-three trial are expected later this month.
NYC to end contracts with Trump Organization over Capitol attack
New York City announced Wednesday that it would end its contracts with the Trump Organization, saying President Trump had incited his supporters to violently attack the Capitol last week. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that disqualified Trump's company from doing work for the city. "Inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government clearly constitutes criminal activity," de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC. The Trump Organization has contracts to run ice skating rinks, a carousel, and a golf course for the city. Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller said the company would challenge the move, calling it "political discrimination." "The City of New York has no legal right to end our contracts and if they elect to proceed, they will owe the Trump Organization over $30 million," Miller said.
Stock futures mixed after Trump impeachment
U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Thursday following the House vote to impeach President Trump on charges that he incited last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures were down by 0.2 percent. The Dow was essentially flat on Wednesday, but the S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up by 0.4 percent with a boost from Intel, which jumped by nearly 7 percent after unexpectedly ousting CEO Bob Swan as the semiconductor chip manufacturer shifted back to its engineering roots after several technology missteps. Investors are awaiting President-elect Joe Biden's Thursday speech on his coronavirus relief plan, with the potential for additional stimulus to lift markets.
December federal deficit reached a record $144 billion
The federal deficit reached $144 billion in December, a record for the month, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. Revenues edged up by 3 percent but were more than offset by a 40 percent increase in spending, including coronavirus relief checks and extra unemployment benefits. In December 2019, before the pandemic hit the United States, the monthly deficit was $13 billion. The cumulative federal deficit for the first three months of the fiscal year that started Oct. 1 hit $573 billion, up from $357 billion in the same period the previous year, before the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. Big deficits are expected to continue as President-elect Joe Biden pushes more coronavirus stimulus spending on top of the $900 billion package approved last month.