Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 6, 2022

Biden to back U.S. and global solar panel industries, British markets rally after queen's jubilee, and more

1

Biden will take executive action to support domestic solar panel production

President Biden reportedly plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to support the U.S. solar panel industry. He also plans to announce a two-year halt on new tariffs on solar equipment, a move designed to allow companies working on solar projects in the United States to keep using foreign-made equipment while domestic manufacturing catches up. These decisions come after several exporters have reduced or stopped sales of solar equipment to the U.S. in response to an investigation by the Commerce Department that could lead to the imposition of retroactive tariffs.

2

U.K. markets up as Jubilee ends, Johnson faces no-confidence vote

Britain's FTSE 100 stock index rose 1.2 percent on Monday after being closed since Wednesday for the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, a holiday some analysts suggested could shave half a point off the U.K.'s GDP. The British pound also rose 0.6 percent against the U.S. dollar to $1.26 as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to face a no-confidence vote from his ruling Conservative Party sometime between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. local time Monday evening. If Johnson loses the vote, it will trigger a new leadership election.

3

Report: U.S. warned African countries against buying stolen Ukrainian grain from Russia

Last month, the United States sent an alert to 14 countries, mostly in Africa, warning them against buying stolen Ukrainian grain from Russia, The New York Times reported Sunday. Despite these warnings, famine-stricken African countries may be unlikely to refuse food on principle. The United Nations reports that wheat prices are up 23 percent in the past year, and Africa normally gets 40 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. "Africans don't care where they get their food from, and if someone is going to moralize about that, they are mistaken," said Hassan Khannenje of the Kenya-based HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies.

4

Ruble weakens against dollar but remains stronger than before Ukraine invasion

The Russian ruble weakened against the U.S. dollar on Monday, with each dollar buying around 61.46 rubles. Russia's currency still remains nominally stronger against the dollar than it was before the country invaded Ukraine. Russian capital controls have helped stabilize the currency, which is much weaker at Russian banks. VTB, the country's largest lender, is selling cash dollars for 84 rubles each. A week before Russia invaded Ukraine, one U.S. dollar would buy 76 rubles. By March 10, that number was over 130, with President Biden declaring that the ruble was "rubble." Throughout late March and April, the currency recovered as Russia's economy adjusted to wartime sanctions.

5

Gun stocks hold steady despite talk of bipartisan deal

Stock prices for two of the biggest gun manufacturers in the United States appear unfazed by either the recent wave of mass shootings or the accompanying push for new gun control legislation. Shares of Sturm Ruger & Co. are up $3.32 since a racially motivated gunman killed 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store on May 14. Smith & Wesson is up $1.14 in the same timeframe. Senators said Sunday that a bipartisan deal to strengthen federal gun laws is within reach. The bill could expand background checks and encourage states to adopt "red flag" laws but is unlikely to include the new assault weapons ban requested by President Biden.

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