Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 11, 2021

The House passes a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, the Dow closes above 32,000 for the first time, and more 

1

House passes $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package

The House on Wednesday passed the nearly $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package as adjusted by the Senate, sending it to President Biden for his signature, expected on Friday. House Democrats pushed through the legislation in a 220 to 211 vote, without Republican support. The package includes another round of stimulus checks for most Americans, as well as extended extra unemployment benefits. It also sends billions of dollars to city, state, and tribal governments, and small businesses that have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. Schools also will get money to help them reopen classrooms. The package includes provisions such as expanded tax credits and food aid that could cut child poverty in half. Republicans argued that the plan was too expensive, but a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday found that 70 percent of Americans supported it.

2

Dow closes above 32,000 for 1st time

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by 1.5 percent on Wednesday to close at a record high after the release of encouraging new inflation data that helped calm fears of higher interest rates. The Dow closed above 32,000 for the first time in history, setting its 11th record of 2021. The S&P 500 rose by 0.6 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by less than 0.1 percent. U.S. stock index futures rose early Thursday. Futures for the Dow were up by 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell following the House's approval of the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 0.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. Rising interest rates have been steering investors away from riskier growth stocks recently, but a $38 billion auction of 10-year Treasury bonds went smoothly, with no spike in volatility.

3

Hackers breach feeds from 150,000 security cameras

Hackers said Wednesday that they breached security-camera data collected by startup Verkada Inc. for a host of companies, including Tesla and software provider Cloudflare. The compromised data included live feeds from 150,000 surveillance cameras at companies, hospitals, police departments, prisons, and schools, as well as Verkada's offices. The hackers belonged to an international collective seeking to expose the pervasiveness of video surveillance, and how easy it can be for outsiders to access the images, said Tillie Kottmann, one of the hackers claiming responsibility for the breach of the Silicon Valley firm. One video, Bloomberg reported, showed a Tesla warehouse in Shanghai. The hackers reportedly obtained footage from 222 cameras in Tesla factories and warehouses.

4

Facebook asks judge to dismiss antitrust lawsuits

Facebook on Wednesday filed motions to dismiss antitrust lawsuits brought both by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general, denying allegations its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram gave it monopoly power. Facebook argued the FTC hasn't made a "plausible antitrust case," has failed to "plausibly allege that Facebook has monopoly power," and hasn't "plausibly alleged unlawful exclusionary conduct." Facebook also claimed the state attorneys general lack standing to bring the case and "waited far too long" to take action targeting the company's acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram that were previously cleared by the FTC. The lawsuits mark some of the biggest legal and political threats the company has faced, and experts say it will be difficult to get them dismissed.

5

American, United cancel plans to furlough 27,000

American Airlines and United Airlines on Wednesday dropped plans to furlough about 27,000 employees after the House passed the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program. American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom sent employees a memo saying the 13,000 furlough notices issued in February were "happily canceled — you can tear them up!" Airlines must agree not to furlough anybody through September to qualify for part of the $15 billion set aside for the program in the new stimulus package. "By extending PSP, our teams will be able to remain current in their training and ready to match expected future demand" as vaccine distribution "continues to ramp up," United CEO Scott Kirby said.

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