Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 25, 2021

Biden presses lawmakers for fast coronavirus relief, China surpasses U.S. as top recipient of foreign investment, and more

1

Biden aides press lawmakers for fast action on coronavirus relief

As the U.S. surpassed 25 million COVID-19 cases, one of President Biden's top economic aides on Sunday pressed Democratic and Republican senators to act quickly on Biden's proposal for a new, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The effort by Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, was part of a broad push by the Biden administration for a fresh round of stimulus. "We can't wait," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said. Lawmakers from both parties urged the Biden administration to aim for a less ambitious, more targeted relief bill. Biden also reportedly plans to reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and 26 European countries that allow travel across open borders.

2

China overtakes U.S. as world's top target for foreign investment

China last year vaulted past the United States as the world's top recipient of foreign investment, according to figures released Sunday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. China had long been No. 2 behind the U.S., which held the top spot for decades. But new investments in the U.S. by overseas businesses plummeted by 49 percent in 2020 as the U.S. economy contracted during the coronavirus crisis. China saw its foreign investments rise by 4 percent. Beijing used strict lockdowns to quickly contain the coronavirus outbreak, first detected in the city of Wuhan, and China managed to eke out slight economic growth on the year, while other major economies contracted.

3

Chicago teachers vote against returning to classrooms

Chicago Teachers Union members voted on Sunday to defy Chicago Public Schools' plan to reopen schools, opting instead to continue working from home on Monday. About 86 percent of the union's 25,000 members voted over the last three days, and 71 percent rejected in-person work. The union and the school district, the nation's third largest, have been debating for months how to handle classes during the pandemic. The vote did not resolve the dispute. The union emphasized that its action would not amount to a strike, because teachers planned to continue working from home. But it said it would call a strike if the district blocks teachers from working remotely. The school district has said that it no longer plans to let about half of union members teach entirely from home.

4

Stock futures rise ahead of busy earnings week

U.S. stock index futures rose early Monday ahead of a busy week of earnings reports. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average crept up by less than 0.1 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent and nearly 1 percent, respectively. Stocks were mixed on Friday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 falling while the Nasdaq closed at a record high to finish the week up by 4.2 percent. This week, 13 Dow components and 111 S&P 500 companies report quarterly earnings. Among the companies reporting results are Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Tesla, McDonald's, Honeywell, Caterpillar, and Boeing. Among S&P 500 companies that have reported already, 73 percent have beaten analysts' expectations on sales and earnings per share, according to data from Bank of America.

5

Biden to sign Buy American executive order

President Biden reportedly plans to sign an executive order on Monday requiring government agencies to increase purchases of American-made products. The policy is part of the "Buy American" initiative Biden promised during his campaign. Biden reportedly hopes to harness the purchasing power of the U.S. government, the biggest buyer in the world, to boost domestic manufacturing and supply chains hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden's Buy American initiative shares some elements of former President Donald Trump's domestic preference policy under his America First plan, which also included tariff hikes targeting China and other trading partners. Canada's foreign minister, Marc Garneau, said Sunday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had expressed concerns to Biden about the Buy American program in a Friday phone call.

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