Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 26, 2021

Key Senate Democrat calls for a smaller infrastructure bill, the EU says fully vaccinated Americans can visit this summer, and more

1

Manchin calls for smaller infrastructure bill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key moderate Democrat, said Sunday he would support a pared down infrastructure plan, suggesting parts of President Biden's proposed $2 trillion package should be split into separate legislation. "I do think they should be separated, because, when you start putting so much into one bill, which we call an omnibus bill, makes it very, very difficult for the public to understand," Manchin said on CNN's State of the Union. Manchin, whose support is critical for Democrats in an evenly divided Senate, also said he did not support trying to pass the package without Republican support through the process known as budget reconciliation that let Democrats pass their coronavirus relief package with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes they would have needed to get past a Republican filibuster. Manchin also said that a smaller infrastructure plan proposed by Republicans was "a good start."

2

EU to let vaccinated American tourists visit this summer

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday in an interview with The New York Times that fully vaccinated American tourists would be able to visit the European Union this summer. "The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines," von der Leyen said. "This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union." The EU shut down nonessential travel from most countries just over a year ago in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. U.S. and EU authorities are conducting advanced talks on the use of vaccine certificates to confirm visitors' immunity. Diplomats from European countries that depend heavily on tourism have argued that progress on vaccinations, rather than current caseloads, should be used to determine whether a country is "safe."

3

Netflix leads studios with seven Oscars

Netflix took home seven Oscars in the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday, leading all studios. Disney came in second with five. Netflix went into the evening with 36 nominations, by far the most for any studio. The streaming service won two Oscars for David Fincher's Mank, which had the most nominations for any film with 10. It won for cinematography (for Erik Messerschmidt) and production design (for Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale). Ma Rainey's Black Bottom also won two, for makeup and hairstyling (with Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, the first Black women to win in the category, alongside Sergio Lopez-Rivera) and costume design (Ann Roth). Chadwick Boseman had been considered the favorite to win a posthumous best actor Oscar for his role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, but Anthony Hopkins won in an upset for The Father, leaving Netflix with no Oscars in acting categories.

4

GameStop executives to get stock windfalls as they leave

Four GameStop executives, including CEO George Sherman, have separation agreements that are letting them leave the company with vested stock currently worth about $290 million, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing its own analysis of recent securities filings by the company. The struggling videogame retailer's stock ended 2020 at $19 a share, but a controversial recent run-up lifted the stock to record highs, with an intraday peak of $483 in January. The shares closed Friday at $151.18. Under the departure deals, the stock the executives were awarded while they were on the job immediately vests when they go, so they will be able to sell it right away if they choose. Sherman, whose 2.4 percent stake makes him one of the company's largest shareholders, will get accelerated vesting of more than 1.1 million shares worth about $169 million based on Friday's closing price when he leaves on July 31.

5

Stock futures mixed as earnings season picks up

U.S. stock index futures were little changed early Monday ahead of a busy week in the first-quarter earnings season. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by less than 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down by 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. About a third of the companies in the S&P 500 will be reporting earnings. A quarter of the S&P already has posted results, with 84 percent reporting better-than-expected per-share earnings. Other events that could steer markets this week are a Federal Reserve meeting, the debut of President Biden's "American Families Plan," and the release of new inflation data.

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