Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 21, 2021

Netflix shares drop as pandemic streaming surge fades, Johnson & Johnson says it will resume Europe vaccine rollout, and more


Netflix shares drop after subscriber growth falls short

Netflix said Tuesday that its first-quarter subscriber growth fell short of expectations as many countries eased coronavirus lockdowns that kept people at home and increased their appetites for streaming video. Netflix said it added four million subscribers from January through March. The company had forecast a net gain of six million. Netflix shares plunged by more than 8 percent in after-hours trading, after gaining nearly 26 percent over the last year. In the same quarter a year ago, Netflix picked up 15.8 million subscribers as the pandemic started spreading around the world. Netflix said the growth slowdown stemmed from both "the big COVID-19 pull forward in 2020" and coronavirus-related production delays that resulted in slimmer content offerings in the first half of 2021.


J&J to resume Europe vaccine rollout

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that it planned to resume distribution of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe. Regulators there found a link to rare blood clots, but said the vaccine's benefits outweighed the risks of side effects. Johnson & Johnson paused the shot's rollout in the European Union after U.S. agencies recommended a delay of the vaccine's use pending review of the blood clot concerns. The European Medicines Agency's latest recommendation is not binding, but it cleared the way for the block's 27 member states to decide whether to use the vaccine, according to their case load and access to other vaccines. Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine already has been administered to nearly eight million Americans. The pause with Johnson & Johnson's product hampered an already troubled EU vaccination effort, following the suspension of AstraZeneca's vaccine over similar clotting concerns.


Biden to unveil plan to cut U.S. emissions by half

President Biden plans this week to commit to slashing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by half or more before 2030, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing two people briefed on the matter. The policy is part of Biden's escalation of the federal government's efforts to fight climate change. Biden's pledge will nearly double America's target for emissions cuts compared to the 26 to 28 percent reduction from 2005 levels former President Barack Obama targeted under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which former President Donald Trump quit but Biden rejoined. Biden on Thursday will convene a virtual summit in a bid to restore U.S. leadership on environmental issues. Ahead of the meeting, the European Union tentatively agreed to make the 27-nation bloc climate-neutral by 2050.


Simon & Schuster to proceed with Pence book despite employee objections

Simon & Schuster will go ahead with publication of former Vice President Mike Pence's book despite objections from some of the company's employees, CEO Jonathan Karp said Tuesday. Employees have circulated petitions internally and on social media calling for canceling Pence's memoir and refusing potential deals with other Trump administration figures. The workers also want the publisher to drop its distribution relationship with conservative book publisher Post Hill Press. One petition online says Pence has backed racist, sexist, and homophobic policies, and Simon & Shuster "has chosen complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Mike Pence and continuing to distribute books for Post Hill Press." Karp said in a letter to staffers that the company's role is "to publish, not cancel."


Stock futures little changed after 2 days of losses

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were flat early Wednesday following Tuesday's losses. Nasdaq futures were down by 0.2 percent several hours before the opening bell. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell by around 0.7 percent on Tuesday and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.9 percent in a second straight day of losses for Wall Street as rising new COVID-19 cases around the world weighed on stocks that stand to gain the most as pandemic restrictions ease. United Airlines shares dropped by 8.5 percent on Tuesday after the carrier reported its fifth straight quarterly loss and warned that international travel has a long recovery ahead. The State Department said it would expand "do not travel" advisories to cover 80 percent of the world's countries as the coronavirus poses "unprecedented risk to travelers."


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