The daily business briefing: October 5, 2023

Kaiser Permanente workers walk out, opening arguments launch Sam Bankman-Fried's trial, and more

Kaiser Permanente strike
Kaiser Permanente workers go on strike
(Image credit: Jill Connelly / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

1. Kaiser Permanente workers walk out in record health care strike

Kaiser Permanente workers on Wednesday started the biggest health care strike in U.S. history, with 75,000 employees walking out. The striking employees — in California, Colorado, Washington, Virginia, Oregon and Washington, D.C. — are members of a coalition of eight unions representing 40% of the nonprofit health provider's total staff, including nurses, dietary workers, receptionists, optometrists and pharmacists. The three-day strike over pay and staffing comes in a period of intense labor activity. Auto workers and Hollywood writers and actors also have walked off the job this year demanding better pay and benefits. Negotiations between the unions and Kaiser Permanente continued on Wednesday. Los Angeles Times, CNN

2. Opening arguments kick off FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried's trial

Defense and prosecution lawyers on Wednesday made their opening arguments in the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the fallen founder of the once high-flying FTX cryptocurrency exchange, which abruptly collapsed last year. A jury of nine women and three men will weigh seven criminal charges Bankman-Fried faces for allegedly siphoning off billions of dollars to fuel a lavish lifestyle. Bankman-Fried allegedly used the money to make political contributions, buy luxury real estate and prop up his hedge fund. Four close advisers have pleaded guilty and three others have agreed to testify against him. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thane Rehn said Bankman-Fried's empire was "built on lies." Defense lawyer Mark Cohen said Bankman-Fried overlooked problems and is a "math nerd," not a thief. The New York Times, Reuters

3. Oil prices drop as US gasoline demand falls

Oil prices were steady early Thursday after a sharp drop on Wednesday due to concerns of a global economic downturn that could erode demand. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell below $85 per barrel — the lowest since late August — and U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate dropped under $84 a barrel. Both are now below their 50-day moving average. The last time that happened was July. The declines came after U.S. data indicated that U.S. gasoline demand fell and stockpiles surged, sending prices falling. The shift came after oil prices climbed in September, with the U.S. benchmark surpassing $95 a barrel, fueling speculation that prices could reach $100 a barrel. Bloomberg

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4. Stock futures edge down after Dow snaps 3-day losing streak

U.S. stock futures slipped early Thursday after Wednesday's gains. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down 0.2% at 7 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.1%. The Dow snapped a three-day losing streak on Wednesday, rising 0.4%. The S&P 500 gained 0.8% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 1.4%. Stocks got a boost from a slip in 10-year Treasury yields from highs last seen in 2007. ADP also reported private job growth of 89,000 for September, far short of the 160,000 estimate from Dow Jones, easing concerns about a too-hot labor market. "Obviously, we're getting a little reprieve today, but I think it's just that: It's a brief reprieve,” Liz Young, SoFi's head of investment strategy, said on CNBC's "Closing Bell." CNBC

5. UAW, automakers make progress but strikes continue

The United Auto Workers and representatives of Detroit's Big Three car makers made progress toward ending the union's historic walkout, its first simultaneous strike against Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler's Stellantis, The Associated Press reported late Wednesday, citing a person with direct knowledge of the talks. Another source told AP that the most significant movement came in talks with Stellantis. Union President Shawn Fain is expected to update members Friday on how the bargaining is going as the limited strikes near the end of their third week. The walkouts now involve 25,000 workers at five vehicle assembly plants and 38 parts warehouses. Fain has expanded the strikes on the past two Fridays. The Associated Press

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