Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 9, 2021

Florida sues the CDC demanding it let cruise ships sail again, GM and Ford halt production at several plants due to chip shortage, and more

1

Florida sues CDC to reopen cruise industry

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Thursday that his state would sue the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to demand it let cruise ships that are vital to the tourist economy start operating again. The CDC recommends against cruise voyages due to what it says is a high risk of coronavirus infection on board. Royal Caribbean and Disney announced this week they would extend suspensions until June. DeSantis said the industry should be allowed to start sailing again immediately. "On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihoods depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida's fighting back," he said. "We don't believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year, based on very little evidence and very little data."

2

Chip shortage forces GM, Ford to halt production at several plants

General Motors and Ford said Thursday they would halt production or extend shutdowns already in place at several North American automobile plants due to an ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips. GM said three plants that had not yet been affected by the chip shortage would pause or reduce production for up to two weeks. Those factories include one in Tennessee and another in Michigan that make popular midsize sport-utility vehicles, including the Chevrolet Traverse and the Cadillac XT5 and XT6. The automaker also will extend shutdowns at plants in Kansas City and Ontario. The company has been trying to soften the blow from the shortage by diverting chips from less-popular models to its most profitable vehicles, including large pickup trucks and SUVs. Ford is pausing work at three plants for a week.

3

'No' ballots lead halfway through Amazon union vote

Ballot counting paused Thursday night in Amazon's union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, with the online retail giant pulling to a big lead over labor organizers. With nearly half the 3,215 votes counted, 1,100 warehouse workers had rejected the proposal to unionize, and 463 had voted for it. The National Labor Relations Board's agents are counting the ballots by hand. About 55 percent of the Bessemer warehouse's nearly 6,000 workers who were eligible participated in the vote. Amazon, which has more than 950,000 U.S. workers, campaigned hard against the attempt to organize. Some labor experts believe that a union loss could discourage similar efforts at other Amazon facilities, while others think even a losing effort could inspire other Amazon workers to try to unionize.

4

S&P hits second straight record high

The S&P 500 rose by 0.4 percent on Thursday to close at a record high for the second straight day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped by 1 percent with a boost from Apple, Netflix, and Microsoft, all of which gained more than 1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.2 percent. The gains came despite a report by the Labor Department that 744,000 people filed initial applications for unemployment benefits last week, more than the 694,000 initial jobless claims forecast by economists polled by Dow Jones. "The jump in jobless claims is disappointing but doesn't change our view that the next few months will see huge job gains as the economy continues to reopen," said Jeff Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial. U.S. stock futures were little changed early Friday.

5

Muslim rights group sues Facebook over hate speech in posts

The civil rights group Muslim Advocates on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social media company and its top executives of misleading the public with exaggerated claims about its effort to bar posts that spread hate and incite violence. The group said in its lawsuit that Facebook has failed to keep out hateful content, amplifying "the volume of anti-Muslim hate bombarding Facebook users" and fueling problems online and in real life. The complaint cites comments by former President Donald Trump before the deadly January attack on the Capitol, and a militia group's alleged incitement of a double murder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Facebook said it does not allow hate speech and has invested in artificial intelligence tools to catch it more quickly.

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