The daily business briefing: April 5, 2021

Harold Maass
Delta.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

1.

Stock futures rise after strong jobs report

U.S. stock index surged early Monday after Friday's blockbuster jobs report indicated a sharp increase in hiring as the pace of coronavirus vaccinations rose and more states lifted restrictions on businesses. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq rose by 0.6 percent, 0.5 percent, and 0.4 percent, respectively. The Labor Department on Friday reported that the U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in March, the most since August 2020 and far above the 675,000 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The unemployment rate fell to 6 percent. "This reflects the lifting of restrictions, ramp-up in vaccinations and boost provided by the fiscal stimulus," said Anu Gaggar, senior global investment analyst at Commonwealth Financial Network. [CNBC]

2.

Delta cancels 100 flights because of staff shortages

Delta Air Lines on Sunday had to cancel 100 flights due to staff shortages. "We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and the majority have been rebooked for the same travel day," Delta said in a statement. The airline also sat some passengers in middle seats on Sunday and Monday for the first time in a year, although it said it would continue a policy to keep those seats empty through April. Delta will start selling middle seats on May 1, and resume drink service and snack sales in mid-April. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the company was moving toward selling all seats partly because "nearly 65 percent of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1." [The Associated Press, The Hill]

3.

Hotel magnate and Swiss billionaire make $680 million bid for Tribune

Choice Hotels International Chairman Stewart Bainum and Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss have made a $680 million, $18.50-per-share offer for the Tribune Publishing newspaper chain, potentially outbidding hedge fund Alden Global Capital, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. A special committee of the Tribune board reportedly found the new bid was probably the better deal, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Bainum and Hansjörg increased the amount they planned to personally contribute from $200 million to more than $600 million, guaranteeing their proposal was fully financed. Alden in February reached a deal to pay $17.25 per share for Tribune, agreeing separately to sell Bainum the Baltimore Sun for $65 million once it acquired Tribune. Now it likely would have to raise its bid to acquire the company. [The Wall Street Journal]

4.

Republicans call for Biden to cut infrastructure plan

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday that President Biden should slash his $2 trillion infrastructure plan to $615 billion if he wants to win over Republicans. Blunt, the No. 4 Republican in the Senate, said many Republicans might back the plan if it were scaled back to cover only roads, bridges, and other traditional infrastructure. "There's an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win," Blunt said. Progressives called for expanding the proposal to increase spending on such things as affordable housing and fighting climate change. Biden has said he would like to have GOP support, but Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Biden was prepared to use the budget reconciliation process to approve it without GOP backing, as he did with his coronavirus relief package. [CNBC, CNN]

5.

Godzilla vs. Kong debut breaks pandemic-era record

Godzilla vs. Kong continued its dominant opening run over the weekend. The monster movie took in $48.5 million in its first five days, easily breaking the record for the biggest debut since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The last Godzilla movie made $47.8 million in its three-day weekend debut back in 2019. The new film's opening weekend amounted to a test of moviegoers' willingness to return to theaters as the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations picks up and many states lift mask mandates now that the winter virus surge has passed. AT&T's WarnerMedia also offered Godzilla vs. Kong, along with the rest of its 2021 releases, for streaming over HBO Max at the same time as the theatrical debut, but didn't provide data on streaming views. [The Wall Street Journal]