The daily business briefing: January 22, 2021
Trump returns to businesses devastated by the pandemic, new jobless claims fall but remain high, and more
Trump business revenue plummeted due to pandemic
Former President Donald Trump's family business revenue dropped by nearly 40 percent last year as the coronavirus pandemic kept customers away from Trump Organization hotels and golf resorts, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing newly released data from the Office of Government Ethics. The decline was sharpest at some of Trump's most lucrative properties, and the situation could worsen as some business partners and clients cut ties with Trump over the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by some of his supporters. Eric Trump, who took over the company when his father was in office, said the business was in good shape given the loyalty of his father's followers. "He's got probably the most famous brand in the world," Eric Trump said. "The opportunities for somebody like that are going to be endless."
New jobless claims decline but stay high at 900,000
The Labor Department said Thursday that 900,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, down 26,000 from the revised level of the previous week. This was a bit better than expected, as economists were anticipating a total of 925,000 claims. Still, the number continues to remain well above the pre-pandemic record, as well as higher than a few weeks ago. But last week, the number of new claims surged by 181,000 in the worst week since August. The latest jobs report showed the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December amid increasing COVID-19 cases, the first monthly jobs loss since April. Thursday's number was reported on the first full day on the job for President Biden, who The Washington Post notes "inherits one of the worst job markets of any president."
Judge rejects Parler demand for Amazon web hosting
A federal judge on Thursday rejected Parler's request to force Amazon Web Services to start hosting the social media platform again. Parler has become popular with conservatives angry over Twitter and Facebook efforts to crack down on posts seen as inciting violence or spreading misinformation. AWS dropped the site for failing to prevent posts promoting violence, a violation of AWS's terms of service. Parler sued, arguing that Amazon had conspired with Twitter to hurt its business. U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle denied Parler's request, saying that Amazon "argued convincingly" that it was trying to prevent Parler from promoting violence. Rothstein also said Parler's allegation that AWS had conspired with Twitter was conjecture.
Stock futures fall as record-setting week ends
U.S. stock index futures fell early Friday after setting records earlier in the week with help from strong earnings reports and anticipation of more coronavirus stimulus spending under the new Biden administration. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.8 percent several hours before the opening bell. Those of the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq rose by 0.6 percent on Thursday to set the latest in a string of record highs, with a boost from a 3.7 percent jump by Apple shares. Apple and Facebook have gained 7.7 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, this week ahead of their quarterly reports.
Fire kills 5 at new vaccine-maker facility in India
A fire on Thursday killed five people at a facility of the Serum Institute of India, the world's biggest vaccine maker. The company started producing 50 to 60 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca in December, and is working on ramping up production to 100 million doses of the Covishield vaccine per month in January or February. Vaccine production was not affected by the blaze, said SII CEO Adar Poonawalla via Twitter. The six-story building in the city of Pune was still under construction. Firefighters got the fire under control and rescued four survivors, said Pune's mayor, Murlidhar Mohol. Preliminary investigations suggested that "some welding work could have led to the fire," Mohol said.