Friday, March 25, 2022

U.S. Stocks End Mostly Higher and Book Weekly Gains. U.S. stocks zigzagged Friday to end mostly higher heading into the weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced about 153 points, or 0.4%, to 34,861 Friday. The S&P 500 index gained 23 points, or 0.5%, to close at 4543, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell nearly 23 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 14,169. The three major equity indexes all booked gains for the week, with the Dow up 0.3%, the S&P ahead 1.8%, and the Nasdaq up 2%.

Streaming Will Dominate the Academy Awards. Is the Model Viable?

When the 94th Academy Awards air on Sunday night, viewers will see a parade of movies that never actually made it to the theaters. Streaming giant Netflix is nominated for 27 Oscars, more than any other studio, while AppleTV+ has six nominations and Amazon Studios has four. Numerous other nods came for films that made their debut simultaneously in theaters and on streaming platforms from Walt Disney and Warner Bros.
After being slow to accept streaming, Hollywood has gone all in. But the embrace comes as streaming’s original benefactors—3,000 miles away on Wall Street—have started to lose faith.
As the critical acclaim builds, the business of streaming is facing tough questions. With the exception of Netflix, no one is making money in streaming today. Instead, the industry remains in a land-grab phase, with companies throwing tens of billions of dollars into original series and movies, marketing, and promotions in an effort to win subscribers. Goldman Sachs analysts estimate that the top 10 streaming companies will spend some $130 billion on content in 2022, up 10% from last year.

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A New Covid-19 Wave Will Hit the U.S. Its Severity Is Unknown.

Public-health officials say they expect cases of Covid-19 to rise in the U.S. in the coming weeks as a new variant of the virus becomes dominant here. Whether an increase in hospitalizations and deaths follows is, so far, unknowable.
The Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 is the most widespread variant globally, and is now thought to be causing the majority of cases in some parts of the U.S.

Biden Says NATO Would Respond if Russia Uses Chemical Weapons

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would respond “in kind” if Russia uses chemical weapons in its ongoing attack in Ukraine, President Joe Biden said this week at an emergency summit meeting of the allies in Brussels.
“We’d make that decision at the time,” Biden said, responding to a reporter’s question. “The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”

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Apple, Alphabet, and the Rest of Big Tech Face Rigid New EU Competition Framework

Apple, Alphabet, and the rest of Big Tech face a tough new competition regime and the prospect of multibillion-dollar fines in Europe after lawmakers agreed on sweeping legislation to rein in major tech companies.
The European Union’s Council and Parliament—the legislative arms of the 27-member bloc—reached a provisional political agreement on Friday for the Digital Markets Act. The act still needs final legislative approval.

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China Eases Covid Testing Rules to Reduce Economic Impac

Chinese authorities this week announced a loosening of the country’s Covid-19 testing policies, aiming for a more targeted approach that would reduce economic impact and the burden for citizens.
In a 4,000-word circular, the National Health Commission said that in most cases, cities experiencing an outbreak need not test their entire populations. Instead, the revised strategy will rely on rapid responses from local health officials to identify areas—as specific as neighborhoods or even city blocks—that need to be tested.

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Filling Your Gas Tank Will Cost More. Why OPEC+ Won’t Help.

The group of major oil producers known as OPEC+ may keep its production plans in place even as crude prices trade at about their highest levels since 2008, and the International Energy Agency warns that the world may soon lose 3 million barrels of Russian oil a day.
When the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies last met on March 2, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was less than a week old, and the producers stuck to their plan for gradual production increases. Since then, oil prices touched their highest levels since 2008 on concerns about the loss of Russian oil. The next meeting of OPEC+ is scheduled for March 31.

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Mortgage Rates Rose Even Higher. Here’s How Much More You’d Pay Now.

Mortgage rates climbed past 4% last week—and their rapid rise didn’t stop there.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 4.42% this week, its highest level since January 2019, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The increase was more than one-quarter of a percentage point higher than last week’s rate of 4.16%, and 1.25 percentage points higher than the same week last year.

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Tiffany Suspends Purchases of Russian Diamonds, Joining Brilliant Earth, Signet

Tiffany will no longer purchase new Russian-mined diamonds, the company said, joining Signet Jewelers and Brilliant Earth in cutting ties with Russian-related businesses in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Tiffany has paused the sourcing of all rough diamonds from Russia, as well as serialized diamonds of Russian origin regardless of where they are cut and polished,” a Tiffany spokesperson said in a statement.

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Moderna Reports Positive Data on Vaccine in Young Children, Will Seek FDA Authorization

Moderna announced this week that it will ask the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its Covid-19 vaccine for children ages six months to under six years, after interim data from a late-stage study showed that the vaccine induced a strong neutralizing antibody response in the age group.
There are currently no Covid-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. for children under age five. The FDA had scheduled an advisory committee meeting for early February to consider authorizing Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for babies and toddlers as young as six months, then canceled the meeting just days before based on new data.

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Initial Jobless Claims Decline to Lowest Level Since 1969

Initial jobless claims fell below 200,000 last week to their lowest point in more than half a century, according to data released by the Labor Department.
First-time unemployment claims for the week ended March 19 were 187,000, a 28,000 decrease from the previous week’s revised level of 215,000, the Labor Department said. This is the lowest level for initial claims since Sept. 6, 1969.

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