The daily business briefing: May 6, 2021
A judge strikes down the U.S. eviction moratorium, the Biden administration backs waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents, and more
Judge vacates federal eviction moratorium
A federal judge on Wednesday struck down the nationwide eviction freeze federal authorities imposed to help renters avoid losing their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. "The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not," said U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, in the ruling. The CARES Act, passed in March 2020 as the pandemic hit the U.S., established a 120-day eviction moratorium, and Trump extended it with an executive order in August, citing the danger that evictions could force people into shelters or other crowded places where the virus could spread.
Biden administration supports waiving COVID-19 vaccine patent protections
The Biden administration supports a waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccine patents, and will advocate lifting them in discussions with the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday. Tai said the Biden administration "strongly believes" in the protections, but considers the waiver necessary so that other countries, especially those experiencing a surge in infections like India, can ramp up their vaccination programs. The White House has faced pressure to support the waiver, but critics argue it's too risky and won't actually increase global vaccine distribution. Pfizer and Moderna shares plunged after the announcement.
Peloton recalls treadmill machines after injuries, 1 death
Peloton announced Wednesday that it was voluntarily recalling its treadmill machines after reports linking them to dozens of injuries and one death. The move marked a stark reversal of Peloton's previous stance on the incidents. In a statement, the fitness company apologized for not responding faster to the concerns about its Tread and Tread+ machines. "I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's request that we recall the Tread+," CEO John Foley said. "We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize." The company urged customers to stop using the products immediately, and request a full refund or other remedy.
Canada becomes 1st country to approve Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 to 15
Canada authorized administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 15, making it the first country to do so. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to give its emergency approval for use in that age group next week. Canada's decision came after a Pfizer study in the United States involving more than 2,200 adolescents found the two-dose vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing infections among participants. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser for Health Canada, said clearing the vaccine for younger teens was a crucial step toward returning to normal life. "While younger people are less likely to experience serious cases of COVID-19, having access to a safe and effective vaccine will help control the disease's spread to their families and friends, some of whom may be at a higher risk of complications," Sharma said.
Stock futures flat following latest Dow record
U.S. stock index futures were little changed early Thursday following the Dow Jones Industrial Average's latest record-high close. Futures tied to the Dow and the S&P 500 were up by less than 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Nasdaq futures gained 0.2 percent. The 30-stock Dow was up by nearly 200 points at one point before closing with a gain of 97 points or nearly 0.3 percent. The S&P 500 rose by less than 0.1 percent on Wednesday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by 0.4 percent. Investors on Thursday will be watching the numbers on last week's new jobless claims. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones are expecting the number to come in at 527,000, another pandemic-era low. April's jobs report is due to be released Friday.