The daily business briefing: May 11, 2021
The FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 to 15, the FBI confirms criminal gang behind pipeline hack, and more
FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved administering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 15. It now needs CDC approval before it can be used on this age group. Pfizer's two-dose vaccine already has been approved for use in those 16 and older. The decision to allow emergency use of the vaccine that Pfizer developed with German partner BioNTech will speed up efforts to get middle school students vaccinated before next school year, boosting the national push to reduce new infections. Children account for about 20 percent of the population, so getting them vaccinated is seen as a critical part of the effort to fight the pandemic. U.S. officials said recently that so many Americans are resisting getting vaccinated that herd immunity might be out of reach.
FBI confirms criminal gang blamed for pipeline hack
The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed Monday that investigators had identified a criminal gang — traced to Eastern Europe, possibly Russia, and known as DarkSide — involved in the cyberattack that forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline Co., which supplies nearly half of the East Coast's gasoline and diesel fuel. The hack, which was disclosed over the weekend, tightened fuel supplies in some areas and intensified concerns about the vulnerability of the U.S. economy to ransomware attacks, in which hackers lock computer systems and demand payment to unfreeze them. President Biden said the Russian government didn't appear to have been involved in the Colonial Pipeline attack, but he said Moscow has tolerated dangerous cyberattacks from its turf.
Treasury Department starts sending aid to state, local governments
The Treasury Department on Monday started distributing $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, a key part of President Biden's plan to boost the economy. The money was included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Biden signed in March after Democrats pushed it through Congress. Administration officials said eligible governments could start receiving funds in days. The announcement followed Friday's disappointing jobs report, which showed that just 266,000 jobs were added in April compared to the 1 million expected by economists. "Our economic plan is working," Biden said. "I never said — and no serious analyst ever suggested — that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly steady."
Stock futures fall after Monday's tech sell-off
U.S. stock index futures fell early Tuesday as tech stocks continued to struggle after Monday's sell-off. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq were down by 1.4 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Facebook, Apple, and Amazon lost more than 1.5 percent in pre-market trading on Tuesday. Tesla shares dropped by nearly 4 percent after a report that it was expanding its Shanghai plant to make it an export hub. The Nasdaq plunged by nearly 2.6 percent on Monday. The S&P 500 and the Dow fell by 1 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, to start the week.
Job openings increased despite hiring slowdown
Job openings increased in April despite slower than expected hiring, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing new data from job-search site Indeed.com. In late April, job postings were 24 percent higher than they were in February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. At the end of March, openings were 16 percent above pre-pandemic levels. The Labor Department reported on Friday that U.S. employers added a seasonally adjusted 266,000 jobs in April, a slowdown from 770,000 the previous month. "Employers are looking to hire, but temporary factors are making people a little hesitant to take jobs," said Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed.