Daily Business Briefing
June 29, 2021Updated
June 29, 2021, 10:50 p.m. ET
June 29, 2021, 10:50 p.m. ETCredit…Robert Wright for The New York Times
Fox News agreed to pay a $1 million penalty under a settlement reached last week with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The case stemmed from a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations that shook the network several years ago and led to the exits of Roger Ailes, its co-founder, and the anchor Bill O’Reilly.
“This is the largest civil penalty that has ever been levied by the City Commission on Human Rights,” the agency’s chair and commissioner, Carmelyn P. Malalis, said in an interview on Tuesday. “We need to send a message in order to deter future acts of harassment or retaliation.”
The settlement, which was finalized on June 25, will prevent Fox News for the next four years from including in new employment contracts a clause requiring confidential arbitration in cases where an employee lodges a complaint under the city’s Human Rights Law. It also mandates that the network carry out a variety of anti-harassment training and prevention measures.
The Commission on Human Rights is the agency that enforces the city’s anti-discrimination laws in workplaces, housing, public services and other spheres. Ms. Malalis said the commission began investigating Fox News in September 2017, around the time that several employees spoke out about sexual harassment at the network; it formally opened a complaint in December 2018.
In a statement on Tuesday, Fox News said it was “pleased to reach an amicable resolution of this legacy matter.”
“Fox News Media has already been in full compliance across the board, but cooperated with the New York City Commission on Human Rights to continue enacting extensive preventive measures against all forms of discrimination and harassment,” the network said.
In the last few years, Fox News has hired a new human resources team and strengthened sensitivity training requirements, among other measures intended to reform its workplace culture. The network’s agreement last week to pay a $1 million penalty was first reported by The Daily Beast.
Read moreCredit…Andrew White for The New York Times
Facebook debuted a newsletter subscription service on Tuesday, an attempt to court influential writers to its platform as more creators branch out from traditional publications and go independent.
To jump-start the service, called Bulletin, Facebook spent months recruiting dozens of writers across different categories — including sports, entertainment, science and health — paying them upfront to bring their readers to Facebook’s platform. The writers include the New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, the author Mitch Albom, and the organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Facebook plans to expand the program and partner with more writers over time, including those who focus on local news.
“The goal here is to support millions of people doing creative work,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, said in a conference call with reporters. “More and more independent writers are discovering ways to use their voice and make money through other avenues, similar to the ones we’re introducing here.”
Those who are part of Bulletin can share their writing over email to subscribers, using the vast reach of Facebook’s platform to build their personal followings. Mr. Zuckerberg said he also wants Bulletin to be a place for journalists to promote their podcasts and audio projects, ideally using Facebook’s recently introduced audio tools.
The new service is part of a newsletter revival across the media industry. Though newsletters are not new, the recent growth of newsletter-focused start-ups like Substack and Revue has renewed interest in the form. Mainstream publishers like The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are also experimenting with newsletter products to attract and retain readers.
Mr. Zuckerberg has long said that Facebook is for “giving everyone a voice,” and he has closely watched the rise of upstarts like Substack, which gives individuals the tools and payments infrastructure to build and grow their own followings through email newsletters.
After monitoring Substack’s growth and progress, Mr. Zuckerberg ordered lieutenants to look into building a competing product earlier this year, The Times has reported. Twitter, too, sees opportunity in newsletters and bought Revue in January.
Facebook is courting writers by not taking a cut of any subscription fees at launch, the company said. Substack takes 10 percent and Revue takes 5 percent. Facebook has not said when or what it will charge creators in the future.
Bulletin articles and podcasts will initially be available on individual creator publication pages, across the Facebook News Feed and within the News tab section of Facebook.
Facebook has a shaky history of news and journalistic partnerships. In 2016, the social network struck a series of content deals that paid news organizations — including The Times — to broadcast live videos on Facebook, but it later backpedaled on the initiative.
Facebook also previously made overtures to publishers to produce video shows for its site. It dialed that effort back, too, leaving some media organizations that had committed to the effort in dire straits. Mic, a once-buzzy media start-up, closed after betting big on Facebook-funded video shows.
To assuage concerns and entice new talent, Mr. Zuckerberg said writers will own their content and email subscriber lists, allowing them to pick up and go to other platforms if they wish to do so.
“The best creators are going to go to the platforms that give them the best tools that help them build the best businesses, and ultimately that give them the most freedom,” he said.
Outbrain, one of the top purveyors of clickbait ads, filed on Tuesday to raise at least $100 million through an initial public offering — one day before its top competitor starts trading publicly.
The company, which calls itself a content recommendation platform, places so-called chumbox ads on websites, hoping to lure readers the way anglers use pieces of dead fish to lure other fish. It had $767 million in revenue last year and $4.4 million in net income, Outbrain said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said it had yet to determine a price range, valuation or offering price, and will aim to raise more than $100 million.
Founded in 2006, Outbrain says it funnels ads to more than 7,000 digital destinations, paying sites like CNN, Der Spiegel and Le Monde whenever users click on the ads. More than 20,000 advertisers use its platform, according to the company.
In 2019, Outbrain planned to combine with its chief rival, Taboola, but the arrangement disintegrated last fall. Taboola said this year that it would go public by merging instead with a so-called special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. It is set to start trading on the Nasdaq exchange on Wednesday.
Credit…KCBS-TV, via Associated Press
A federal safety agency told automakers on Tuesday to begin reporting and tracking crashes involving cars and trucks that use advanced driver-assistance technology such as Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise, a sign that regulators are taking the safety implications of such systems more seriously.
Automakers must report serious crashes within one day of learning about them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Serious accidents include those in which a person is killed or taken to a hospital, a vehicle has to be towed away, or airbags are deployed.
“By mandating crash reporting, the agency will have access to critical data that will help quickly identify safety issues that could emerge in these automated systems,” said Steven Cliff, the agency’s acting administrator. “Gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles.”
The order comes amid growing concern about the safety of such systems, in particular Autopilot, which uses radar and cameras to detect lane markings, other vehicles and objects in the road. It can steer, brake and accelerate automatically with little input from the driver, but it can sometimes become confused.
At least three Tesla drivers have died since 2016 while driving with Autopilot engaged. In two cases, the system and the drivers failed to stop for tractor-trailers crossing roadways, and in a third the system and the driver failed to avoid a concrete barrier on a highway. Tesla has acknowledged that Autopilot can have trouble recognizing stopped emergency vehicles, although the company and its chief executive, Elon Musk, maintain that the system makes its cars safer than those of other manufacturers.
The agency, which some auto safety experts have criticized for going easy on automakers, has begun investigations into about three dozen crashes of vehicles with advanced driver-assistance systems. All but six of those accidents, the first of which took place in June 2016, involved Teslas. Ten people were killed in eight of the Tesla crashes, and one pedestrian was killed by a Volvo that Uber was using as a test vehicle.
The new reporting rule is a “welcome first step,” the Center for Auto Safety said in a statement. The center, a nonprofit in Washington, has been calling on the agency to look more closely at driver-assistance systems and to require automakers to provide more data on crashes.
Critics of Autopilot say Mr. Musk has overstated the technology’s abilities, and the Autopilot name has caused some drivers to believe that they can turn their attention away from the road while the system is turned on. A few people have recorded videos of themselves leaving the driver’s seat while the car was in motion. Mr. Musk also frequently promotes a more advanced technology in development called Full Self-Driving, which Tesla has allowed some customers to use even though the company has acknowledged to regulators that the system cannot drive on its own in all circumstances.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
Under the agency’s order on Tuesday, automakers must provide more complete information on serious crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems within 10 days. And companies must submit a report on all crashes involving such systems every month.
The agency has also asked drivers to contact it if they own a vehicle with a driver-assistance system and believe it has a safety defect.
Read moreCredit…James Estrin/The New York Times
The University of North Carolina’s board of trustees is scheduled to hold a special meeting on Wednesday amid intensifying pressure over its failure to approve tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for The New York Times Magazine.
A spokeswoman for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., which is representing the journalist, confirmed that the board was scheduled to vote on tenure for Ms. Hannah-Jones during the meeting.
Ms. Hannah-Jones, a creator of the 1619 Project, a multimedia series from The Times Magazine that re-examined the legacy of slavery in the United States, had agreed to a July 1 start date as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. In a letter last week, her legal team said she would not join the faculty unless she was granted tenure.
The University of North Carolina announced the meeting of the board, which approves tenure applications, in a news release on Monday. The release did not disclose the meeting’s agenda but said it was expected to include a closed session.
Shortly after the meeting was announced, Susan King, the dean of the Hussman School, said on Twitter that the board was “completing the tenure process begun so long ago to bring Nikole Hannah-Jones to our school.”
Although the dean, the school’s faculty members, the provost and the chancellor had recommended tenure for Ms. Hannah-Jones, the board declined to vote on the matter at a meeting this year. Ms. Hannah-Jones retained legal counsel to address the board’s lack of action in the matter.
The hiring of Ms. Hannah-Jones, who earned a master’s degree from the university’s journalism school in 2003, prompted a backlash from some conservatives who have been critical of the 1619 Project’s reframing of American history. The journalist has also gained the public support of more than 200 academics and other cultural figures who published a letter in The Root last month saying the board had displayed a “failure of courage.”
On Friday, students at the university held a protest in support of Ms. Hannah-Jones. Ms. King, the Hussman School dean, included a link to a video of the demonstration in a Twitter post.
“We so appreciate our great UNC students’ support & other schools’ support,” the dean wrote.
Read moreCredit…Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock
The British government introduced a new exemption to its quarantine rules on Tuesday for business travelers “bringing significant economic benefit” to England, but the move is unlikely to quell frustrations that certain travel routes in and out of Britain remain effectively shut.
The exemption has strict criteria and applies only to executives whose work supports at least 500 British jobs. It is much tighter than one that was in place for about six weeks from early December, when travelers needed to support only 50 jobs in Britain.
There has been a growing concern that Britain’s strict travel rules could lead the country to miss out on business opportunities as other countries welcome the return of travelers, especially from the United States. Since Britain left the European Union, it is also particularly anxious about not losing lucrative business activity to its neighbors across the English Channel.
Parts of Britain, such as the financial and legal district of the City of London, rely heavily on the presence of large multinational corporations. But most people entering the country either must quarantine for 10 days and take coronavirus tests on the second and eighth days or must pay for an additional test to end their self-isolation after five days.
Earlier this month, France reopened its borders to vaccinated American tourists, and last week, Germany said all Americans could enter the country.
Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, met with President Emmanuel Macron of France this week in Paris and opened up a new European Union trading hub on Tuesday. The bank is increasing the number of staff in Paris to 700 by the end of the year, up from 265 before Britain left the European Union. But Mr. Dimon won’t be stopping in Britain, where the company has 19,000 employees and offices in four cities, as he has in past trips to Europe, because of the country’s travel restrictions.
Any executives hoping to leave quarantine will have to meet strict requirements, including proving that the work being done in England “has a greater than 50 percent chance of creating or preserving at least 500 U.K.-based jobs” at a company that already has at least 500 employees or at a new British business. Executives have to apply to the government and get written approval, which can take up to five days, before traveling. When the executive isn’t doing business activity, they must self-isolate at all other times, the government said.
For more than a year, only a handful of flights each day have operated between New York and London, which used to be one of the world’s busiest travel routes. There are even fewer direct flights from London to other major American cities.
The issue of limited flights between New York and London has been raised several times a day, said Emanuel Adam, the executive director in London of BritishAmerican Business, which represents some trans-Atlantic companies.
“It’s frustrating to many businesses and scary because they don’t know yet what it will mean down the line,” he said.
At the same time, businesses are conscious of the health concerns raised by the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in Britain, he said. And now, restrictions against Britons are tightening; this week, Hong Kong barred all travelers from Britain.
In March 2020, President Donald J. Trump banned nearly all non-Americans traveling from Britain, and President Biden has kept the rule in place. There was a small breakthrough at the Group of 7 meetings in Britain earlier this month when the two sides agreed to set up a working group to restart international travel, but likelihood of an agreement for travel to return before the fall is reportedly getting slimmer.
“Many other countries have introduced similar exemptions, and it is important the U.K. does not lose out on prospective major investments and new jobs as a result,” a government representative said in a statement.
Read moreCredit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
Gary Gensler is turning to a longtime state and federal prosecutor to lead the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Gensler, the S.E.C. chairman, announced on Tuesday that he had picked Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey’s attorney general since 2018, to run the all-important division at the nation’s top securities regulator. Mr. Grewal previously served as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn and New Jersey, and was the chief prosecutor for Bergen County, one of New Jersey’s most populous counties.
As a government prosecutor, Mr. Grewal has overseen a number of high-profile securities fraud cases, including a 2015 case involving the hacking of thousands of company news releases so a gang of criminals could engage in insider trading.
Mr. Grewal “has the ideal combination of experience, values and leadership ability to helm the enforcement division at this critical time,” Mr. Gensler said in a statement.
Mr. Gensler’s first pick for the job, Alex Oh, a former Paul Weiss partner, had to resign just days after being named because of a controversy involving a federal judge’s ruling in a case for one of her corporate clients. Ms. Oh stepped down because the judge had taken issue with some of the conduct of Paul Weiss’s lawyers in defending its client, Exxon Mobil.
Some activists had criticized Ms. Oh’s selection because of her long history in private practice and representing large corporations. In picking Mr. Grewal, Mr. Gensler is likely to avoid similar criticism, given Mr. Grewal’s government tenure.
Mr. Grewal, 48, also has been in private practice, but has not worked for a private law firm in over a decade. As New Jersey attorney general, he oversees the state’s bureau of securities and runs a department with 750 lawyers, a few hundred fewer than the S.E.C.’s enforcement division.
He will take over his new job on July 26, replacing the acting enforcement director, Melissa Hodgman.
Read moreCredit…Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Global Citizen Vax Live
Declan Kelly, the chief executive of Teneo, the go-to advisory and communications firm for many of the world’s largest companies, said on Tuesday that he would step down. The firm, which specializes in crisis communications, has been dealing with its own turmoil after reports of Mr. Kelly’s drunken misconduct at a charity event last month.
The firm’s chief operating officer, Paul Keary, was appointed as Mr. Kelly’s replacement, effective immediately, Teneo’s board said in a statement on Tuesday.
Reports have surfaced that Mr. Kelly was asked to leave the board of the nonprofit organization Global Citizen after his misconduct at an event hosted by the charity on May 2. The event, an after party for the Vax Live concert, was hosted by Selena Gomez, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle serving as chairs. It featured a video appearance from President Biden and in-person musical performances from celebrities including Jennifer Lopez.
Mr. Kelly was “inebriated and behaved inappropriately towards some women and men,” according to a statement from Mr. Kelly’s representative, provided to The New York Times before his resignation. The exact details of what occurred at the event remain unclear, even to top executives at the firm.
Shortly after that May event, Mr. Kelly told the firm’s roughly 40-member senior leadership team that he would cut back on some of his duties to deal with an unspecified health issue.
But most of the rest of Teneo’s employees, as well as the firm’s clients, found out about the incident last week from an article in The Financial Times. Afterward, the firm began to reach out to clients. And Mr. Kelly called for a staff meeting to discuss the article.
Mr. Kelly had planned to resume his normal duties after Labor Day.
“I’ve seen a number of crisis communications challenges over the course of my career — this one is especially challenging because the firm and Mr. Kelly are in the business,” said Tony D’Angelo, a professor of public relations at Syracuse University. “This is like a celebrity chef who burns dinner on a global broadcast.”
The fallout has been swift. General Motors, which became a client of Teneo this year, severed ties with the firm. A senior managing director quit on Friday as result of the event and the firm’s handling of it. Many others have questioned the firm about what happened at the event.
“On May 2 I made an inadvertent, public and embarrassing mistake for which I took full responsibility and apologized to those directly affected, as well as my colleagues and clients,” Mr. Kelly said in a statement. “A campaign against the reputation of our firm has followed and may even continue in the coming days. However, regardless of the veracity of any such matters I do not want them to be an ongoing distraction to the running of our company.”
Teneo was founded by Mr. Kelly, Mr. Keary and Doug Band in 2011 and has 1,250 employees. It gives advice to some of the country’s largest companies, like Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical and IBM. Its prominent advisers include former Speaker Paul Ryan and the former Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns.
“This is a friend of mine who definitely had a bad occurrence — and he has to deal with that, and he’s dealing with that as we go forward,” Ms. Burns said Tuesday. She called Teneo a “good firm.”
Mr. Kelly’s resignation is the second prominent departure from the firm in the last two years. Mr. Band, a former close adviser to President Bill Clinton, stepped down as president last year. Both had positioned themselves as well-connected faces of the firm.
Teneo’s board said in its statement that it “believes strongly in Teneo’s unique C.E.O. advisory model, global reach and ability to deliver differentiated value to our clients.”
“We are confident that under Paul, and the leadership team, Teneo will continue on its successful path of growth, delivering unique value to clients across its diverse business segments,” the board said.
CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, acquired a majority stake in Teneo two years ago, valuing it at about $700 million. A managing partner of CVC, Chris Stadler, is on the board of Global Citizen, which hosted the event at which Mr. Kelly acted inappropriately. CVC declined to comment.
Read moreCredit…David Zalubowski/Associated Press
The global economy is entering a new stage of the recovery from the pandemic, in which policymakers must prepare for “different but no less formidable challenges,” the Bank of International Settlements said on Tuesday.
In its annual economic report, the organization, whose 63 members include the world’s largest central banks, warned that the recovery had so far been “incomplete and uneven” as emerging market economies (aside from China) have lagged behind, the euro area is trailing its peers, and the services sector is recovering more slowly.
“While the recovery has been faster and stronger than anyone would have imagined a year ago, we are not out of the woods yet,” Agustín Carstens, the group’s general manager, said.
Monetary policy by central banks and fiscal policy by governments need to remain supportive but also be flexible, the report said. One of the biggest challenges facing policymakers is how they might respond to a persistent rise in inflation. Though many, including officials at the Federal Reserve, say they strongly believe that the current increase in prices is temporary, traders and investors are wary of being caught out by a sudden change in this stance that leads to higher interest rates or the end of bond-buying programs.
The bank’s report contemplates three paths for the recovery, including one in which inflation exceeds expectations because of fiscal stimulus, particularly in the United States, and consumers spend more of their savings than anticipated. Higher-than-expected inflation would “severely” test central banks, which would find it difficult to avoid market volatility, the report said.
But even if the rise in inflation is temporary, “financial market participants could overreact,” the report said. This could lead to disruption in markets because there has been a long period of “aggressive risk taking.”
The collapse of the New York hedge fund Archegos Capital Management, which was forced to sell off billions of dollars in equities in March after it could not meet the demands of several banks, costing the banks several billions in losses, “could turn out to be the proverbial canary in the coal mine,” the report said. The fund’s failure raises a question about resilience of nonbank financial firms and how much hidden exposure they have.
When the pandemic ends, it will leave “issues that may well be more daunting and enduring,” the report said. One of those will be the need to normalize policy so that central banks and governments have “safety margins” to fight the next crises.
“An economy that operates with thin safety margins is vulnerable to both unexpected events and future recessions, which will inevitably come,” the report said.
Read moreCredit…Tom Brenner/The New York Times
A federal judge on Monday eviscerated arguments in two antitrust suits against Facebook — one filed by the Federal Trade Commission, and the other by attorneys general from 46 states and the District of Columbia and Guam.
The judge, James E. Boasberg of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said the federal government had not made its case that Facebook held a monopoly over social networking. And he said the states had waited too long to bring their case.
Here are the arguments the prosecutors made and the judge’s response:
The Federal Trade Commission said that “Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot acquire.” Facebook achieved monopoly power after “toppling early rival Myspace,” the agency said, and has become “the largest and most profitable social network in the world.”
Judge Boasberg said that the commission had not sufficiently proved that Facebook was a monopoly and that the agency’s definition for social media was too vague.
“The F.T.C.’s complaint says almost nothing concrete on the key question of how much power Facebook actually had, and still has,” Judge Boasberg wrote. “It is almost as if the agency expects the court to simply nod to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist. After all, no one who hears the title of the 2010 film ‘The Social Network’ wonders which company it is about.
“Yet, whatever it may mean to the public, ‘monopoly power’ is a term of art under federal law with a precise economic meaning: the power to profitably raise prices or exclude competition in a properly defined market. To merely allege that a defendant firm has somewhere over 60 percent share of an unusual, nonintuitive product market — the confines of which are only somewhat fleshed out and the players within which remain almost entirely unspecified — is not enough.”
The commission also claimed that Facebook maintained its dominance by threatening to cut off software developers from plugging into the social network if they made competing products. It also argued that, although Facebook had reversed a policy that allowed it to cut off stand-alone apps that replicated its features, “Facebook is likely to reinstitute such policies if such scrutiny passes.”
“A monopolist has no duty to deal with its competitors, and a refusal to do so is generally lawful,” Judge Boasberg wrote. “To be actionable, such a scheme must involve specific instances in which that policy was enforced (i) against a rival with which the monopolist had a previous course of dealing; (ii) while the monopolist kept dealing with others in the market; (iii) at a short-term profit loss, with no conceivable rationale other than driving a competitor out of business in the long run.”
“There are no facts alleged, moreover, suggesting that the antitrust ‘scrutiny’ the company is facing is ‘about to’ pass or indeed will pass at any time in the foreseeable future. Indeed, a quick glance at any newspaper yields the contrary conclusion.”
“Facebook has coupled its acquisition strategy with exclusionary tactics that snuffed out competitive threats,” the states said in their suit, “and sent the message to technology firms that, in the words of one participant, if you stepped into Facebook’s turf or resisted pressure to sell, Zuckerberg would go into ‘destroy mode,’ subjecting your business to the ‘wrath of Mark.’” In addition to Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, the states specifically referred to the company’s purchases of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.
Judge Boasberg noted that the states’ suit, “which seeks, in the main, to have Facebook divest one or both companies — was not filed until December 2020.” He added, “The court is aware of no case, and plaintiffs provide none, where such a long delay in seeking such a consequential remedy has been countenanced in a case brought by a plaintiff other than the federal government.” (A doctrine, known as laches, that “precludes relief for those who sleep on their rights,” does not apply to the federal government, “to which the federal antitrust laws grant unique authority as sovereign law enforcer.”)
The United Automobile Workers union, General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis said on Tuesday that they would no longer require workers who have been fully vaccinated to wear masks. The union and the automakers said they would continue to require masks in areas where state and local governments still require them.
Walmart said Tuesday that it would offer a low-cost, private-brand insulin that could save customers up to 75 percent compared with other insulin products. The company’s prescription insulin is part of its ReliOn brand, and will include analog insulin vials for $72.88 and FlexPens for $85.88. The products will be available in Walmart this week and Sam’s Club pharmacies in mid-July, according to the retail giant. Walmart’s insulin brand is manufactured by Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company based in Denmark.
Randal K. Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, suggested on Monday that the global rush to research and develop central bank digital currencies is driven by fear of missing out, or, as it is better known, FOMO. Mr. Quarles warned that the nation has a habit of falling victim to a “mass suspension of our critical thinking and to occasionally impetuous, deluded crazes or fads.” He invoked the parachute pants of the 1980s as a parallel to the current currency craze, noting that sometimes fads are just silly.
Several Wall Street banks announced plans on Monday to increase dividends and buy back their stock as the economy rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic. Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo were the most aggressive. Morgan Stanley said it would double its dividend to 70 cents per share and expand a previously announced share buyback plan to $12 billion from $10 billion. Wells Fargo also said it would double its dividend, to 20 cents per share, and buy back $18 billion of its own shares. JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank by assets, said it would increase its dividend to $1 a share starting in the third quarter, from the current 90 cents.
U.S. stocks were mostly higher on Tuesday after the release of the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence. The index rose to 127.3, up from 120 in May and exceeding economists’ expectations.
The S&P 500 ticked up less than 0.1 percent, and the Nasdaq composite tgained 0.2 percent.
Shares of Facebook fell 1.1 percent and the company fell back under $1 trillion in market value. On Monday, the social media giant’s stock jumped 4 percent and the company hit a $1 trillion valuation after a judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against the tech giant by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states.
European stock indexes rose, with the Stoxx 600 Europe ending the day with a 0.3 percent gain.
Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, gained 0.7 percent to about $73.40 a barrel.
Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
When oil ministers for the group called OPEC Plus meet this week to discuss the energy markets, they may be in a good mood.
After the chaos of last year — marked by a self-destructive price war, and a brief episode when some crude prices fell below zero — Saudi Arabia, Russia and their allies are in a strong position. Oil prices are up 85 percent to about $75 a barrel for Brent crude, and there is growing talk that the price could eventually hit $100 for the first time since 2014, reports Stanley Reed for The New York Times.
The main reason is that global economies that were crushed in last year’s lockdowns are now consuming more oil, while the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies have kept a tight leash on output. And the prospects for the immediate future appear good: Demand for oil is expected to expand further in the coming months. Crude oil production in the United States, a rival to OPEC in recent years, has been slow to recover from 2020 as investors in oil producers lean on the management to restrain spending.
“If I was an OPEC Plus producer, I would feel pretty comfortable with the way things are,” said Neil Atkinson, an independent oil analyst.
Even the concerns about global warming may be playing into the big oil producers’ hands, for a while anyway, some analysts say. Pressured by global warming concerns, oil companies have increased their investments in clean energy like wind and solar, and put less money into pumping oil. As a result, they may be slow to increase spending to bring additional oil to market as economies expand, a move that will help prompt further price increases.
It remains unclear whether the OPEC Plus countries will agree to expand supply at Thursday’s meeting. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi oil minister and chair of the OPEC Plus meetings, tends to shrug off forecasts of roaring consumption.
“I take my guidance from what I see today,” he said earlier this month. “I am not taking any guidance from a projection.”
Read moreVideoCreditCredit…By Timo Lenzen
Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide explores how Apple’s business tactics, which are partly driven by fear, affect the rest of us.