Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 9, 2021

The Nasdaq drops into correction territory but futures surge, the House nears vote on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and more 

1

Nasdaq enters correction territory as tech stocks dive

Tech stocks dropped on Monday, sending the tech-heavy Nasdaq index plunging by 2.4 percent and officially entering correction territory. It is now more than 10 percent below its Feb. 12 record high. Rising bond yields have been blamed for decreasing investor demand for big technology stocks and other growth companies. Apple shares fell by 4.2 percent on Monday, bringing their 2021 decline to 12 percent. Tesla dropped by 5.8 percent, and it's now down by more than 20 percent on the year. Netflix fell by more than 3 percent. Despite the Nasdaq's pain, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by nearly 1 percent to close at a record high. The S&P 500 fell by 0.5 percent. Futures for all three of the main U.S. indexes made solid gains overnight, with those of the Nasdaq rebounding by 2.2 percent.

2

Study: Pfizer vaccine works against Brazil coronavirus variant

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine appears to be highly effective against the more contagious coronavirus variant discovered in Brazil, scientists from the two companies and the University of Texas Medical Branch reported in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings came as public health experts warned that highly transmissible variants could drive a new surge in infections as more states lift restrictions intended to fight the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can safely gather in small groups without masks or social distancing, but urged those who have been fully vaccinated to continue to wear masks and take other precautions when in public or when meeting with unvaccinated people.

3

House heads toward vote on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package

The House is preparing to vote as soon as Tuesday on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package amended by the Senate. The proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, passed the Senate without a single Republican vote, as did an earlier version approved by the House. The current version of the legislation includes $1,400 per-person checks for most Americans, but it no longer includes an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a provision removed by the Senate. Democrats are rushing to approve the bill, which extends extra unemployment benefits, before the benefits are scheduled to expire mid-month. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that if the House quickly approves the legislation and sends it to President Biden for his signature, many families could receive checks "by the end of the month."

4

1,000 COVID deaths linked to workplace transmission weren't investigated

More than 1,000 worker deaths from COVID-19 that were linked to workplace transmission were never investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the state or local level, a Wall Street Journal investigation found. The Journal notes that the number likely understates that actual toll. OSHA records and state health-care data show the agencies often took limited steps when they did respond to safety complaints. Despite an increase in complaints during the pandemic, OSHA agencies conducted fewer inspections than they did in the previous year. The agency's rules are "designed to minimize chemical-exposure risks and injuries such as falls and electric shocks," not infectious disease. Officials did start drafting rules centered on preventing the spread of such diseases in health-care facilities after the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, but never completed the process.

5

Interior Department completes review of giant offshore wind power project

The Interior Department said Monday that it had completed an environmental analysis of Vineyard Wind, a massive wind farm off the Massachusetts coast that would create enough electricity to power 400,000 New England homes. A decision on whether to approve the 800-megawatt project could come as soon as next month. If the project south of Martha's Vineyard near Cape Cod goes forward, it would be the nation's first utility-sized wind power project built in federal waters. President Biden has vowed to double offshore wind production by 2030. The $2 billion project would be 15 miles offshore, significantly farther out than the Cape Wind project that failed after facing opposition from the Kennedy family and billionaire William Koch.

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