Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 2, 2021

SpaceX announces 1st all-civilian space mission, CBO says economy will return to pre-pandemic level by mid-2021, and more

1

SpaceX announces plan for 1st all-civilian space mission

SpaceX plans to launch an all-civilian crew into orbit as early as this year, the company announced Monday. The mission would be the first of its kind. Entrepreneur Jared Isaacman will fund the trip, and said he will be joined by an employee of St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and the winner of a contest he is running through Shift4Shop, his eCommerce platform. The group will travel to space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told Isaacman that "wherever you want to go, we'll take you there." Isaacman said the flight crew might be able to start training within the next month, and will undergo the same regimen professional astronauts go through.

2

U.S. economy expected to return to pre-pandemic level by mid-year

The U.S. economy should return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2021 with or without additional federal relief money, according to Congressional Budget Office projections released Monday. The non-partisan research office said that it still could take years for everyone who lost work due to the coronavirus crisis to find another job. The new forecast takes into account increased growth attributed to the $900 billion coronavirus relief package Congress approved in December, which added an expected 1.5 percent to the gross domestic product level this year and in 2022. That legislation included $600 direct checks to individuals, as well as restored extra unemployment benefits. The CBO said it expected the economy, which contracted last year, to grow by 3.7 percent in 2021, and the unemployment rate to fall to 5.3 percent by the end of year. It had put the figure at 8.3 percent in July.

3

Stock futures gain following Monday's surge

U.S. stock index futures made solid gains early Tuesday, putting Wall Street in position to add to Monday's gains. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by 0.8 percent several hours before the opening bell. All three of the main U.S. indexes surged on Monday. The Dow gained 0.8 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq soared by 1.6 percent and nearly 2.6 percent, respectively. The market got a boost from strong corporate earnings, which helped offset volatility among stocks such as GameStop that have been the focus of a battle between boosters on Reddit and hedge funds that have bet on the stocks to fall. Amazon and Google-parent Alphabet report quarterly results after the market closes.

4

U.S., Ellume reach deal on rapid COVID-19 test

The United States has reached a deal with the company behind a rapid COVID-19 test that can produce results at home in about 15 minutes, President Biden's administration announced Monday. Andy Slavitt, White House COVID-19 response adviser, said the government has awarded $230 million to Ellume, the company that manufactures the first over-the-counter, fully at-home COVID-19 test to be authorized by the FDA, so they can "scale the manufacturing base and capacity" of the test. "They'll be able to ... manufacture more than 19 million test kits per month by the end of this year, 8.5 million of which are guaranteed to the U.S. government," Slavitt said. The company is set to ship 100,000 test kits per month to the U.S. from February through July. The FDA authorized the $30 tests for emergency use in December.

5

Loma Vista drops Marilyn Manson over abuse allegations

Loma Vista Recordings announced on Monday night that it was dropping musician Marilyn Manson after actor Evan Rachel Wood and several other women accused him of abuse. "In light of today's disturbing allegations by Evan Rachel Wood and other women naming Marilyn Manson as their abuser, Loma Vista will cease to further promote his current album, effective immediately," the company said in a statement. "Due to these concerning developments, we have also decided not to work with Marilyn Manson on any future projects." Wood and Manson went public as a couple in 2007 when she was 19 and he was 38, and they were briefly engaged in 2010. Wood said he "horrifically abused" her for years. Manson called the allegations "horrible distortions of reality."

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