The daily business briefing: March 10, 2021
The House prepares for final vote on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, the Nasdaq surges as tech stocks bounce back, and more
House poised for final vote on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package
The House paved the way for a Wednesday vote to approve the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, after Democrats on Tuesday held together their narrow majority in the chamber to pass a procedural motion 219-210. The approval of the American Rescue Plan, which the Senate passed over the weekend, would give an early legislative victory to President Biden. Democrats hailed the bill as a historic anti-poverty measure. The legislation includes a boosted child tax credit and $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans. It also extends $300 weekly extra unemployment benefits, and sends money to cities and states and schools trying to help them reopen. Republicans said the bill's costs were inflated by spending unrelated to the pandemic, and could have received bipartisan support if it had been more targeted.
Stock futures mixed after Nasdaq's best day since November
Technology stocks bounced back Tuesday following Monday's plunge. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shot up by 3.7 percent, its biggest one-day percentage gain since early November. "It is this buy-the-dip mentality," said Daniel Morris, chief market strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management. "It's not like we've changed our long-term view on tech. Everyone expects it to do well — it was just really expensive." The index remained down by 7.2 percent since its Feb. 12 record high. The S&P 500 rose by 1.4 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up by 0.1 percent. Futures for the three main U.S. indexes were mixed early Wednesday. Futures for the Dow and the S&P 500 were up slightly several hours before the opening bell, while those of the Nasdaq edged down.
House passes pro-union bill that would overhaul labor laws
The House on Tuesday passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which seeks to reform labor laws and make it easier for workers to unionize. The vote was 225-206, with five Republicans joining most Democrats in favor of the legislation. The PRO Act would forbid employers from interfering in union elections or using an employee's immigration status against them during employment negotiations. It also would let unions override "right-to-work" laws by collecting dues from workers who opt out of paying them. President Biden supports the legislation; the National Retail Federation calls it "the worst bill in Congress." The measure passed the House last year but died in the then-GOP-controlled Senate. Democrats now narrowly control the Senate, but lack the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
Lego surges as homebound children, China growth boost sales
Lego on Wednesday reported a 21 percent jump in sales last year as parents bought the colorful plastic brick toys for children forced to spend more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lego, a privately held Danish company, said its net profit surged by 19 percent to $1.6 billion. Lego saw double-digit growth in China, the Americas, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific. The company's online push helped offset setbacks related to the pandemic, including delayed releases of toys tied to movies that were postponed. CEO Niels Christiansen told The Associated Press that the "super strong results" showed that strategic investments were paying off. "This is not COVID-related. This was an evolution that started a while ago," he said.
Roblox goes public as pandemic fuels growth
The Roblox gaming platform is going public on Wednesday after being valued at $29.5 billion in January. The New York Stock Exchange set the reference price for Roblox's direct listing at $45 per share, the same price January investors paid. The company, which lets its young users create their own games or play those offered by independent developers, has one of the highest grossing apps for Apple and Google devices. The platform has boomed during the pandemic, with more than 32.6 million daily users across 180 countries. "We're crushing it right now," CEO David Baszucki said during a Roblox developers' conference last summer. "And in the midst of COVID, we've seen an explosion of older players on the platform."