Extended Stay America Inc.
The beaten-down hotel industry is stirring back to life. Blackstone Group and Starwood Capital Group said Monday they had teamed up to buy Extended Stay for $6 billion, the largest hotel acquisition since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The move signals the industry’s expectations for increasing demand after the pandemic caused most tourism, conventions and travel to disappear. Extended Stay shares jumped 13% Monday.
Toyota Motor Corp.
The Texas freeze is now a supply chain nightmare for auto makers. Toyota and
Honda Motor Co.
said Wednesday they would halt production at plants in North America after the power outages brought the world’s largest petrochemical complex to a standstill. Toyota cited a shortage of petrochemicals for curtailments at its factory in Kentucky. The shortage would also lead to cuts in production of its Tacoma pickup truck built in Mexico. Meanwhile Honda pointed to port problems, the semiconductor shortage, pandemic-related issues and the crippling U.S. weather. American depositary shares of Toyota added 1% Wednesday.
Amazon hopes to score a touchdown following a new deal with the National Football League. The tech giant will become the new home of “Thursday Night Football” starting as soon as 2022, one of the long-term media deals that the NFL unveiled Thursday. The major broadcast and cable TV packages are staying with the same networks. ESPN will hold on to “Monday Night Football” and its sister network ABC will join the rotation of broadcasters who televise the Super Bowl. The new deals show that the league is trying to embrace the digital platforms that attract younger audiences without alienating fans used to watching games on TV. Amazon shares rose 1.6% Friday.
Some European countries will resume vaccinating residents after AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was cleared of blood-clot concerns. The European Union’s health agency on Thursday said the vaccine was “safe and effective” and didn’t increase the risk of blood clots, prompting bloc members including Germany, France, Italy and Spain to say they would resume inoculation campaigns. Many European countries recently suspended the vaccine’s use following reports that people who had received it developed rare blood clots, and some had died. The issues have further slowed the sluggish vaccination rollout in Europe, which urgently needs vaccine doses because case numbers are rising as new virus strains spread. American depositary shares of AstraZeneca lost 0.2% Friday.
Last month’s U.S. winter storms didn’t stop FedEx from delivering a profit. The package giant reported Thursday that profit nearly tripled in the latest quarter and revenue rose 23%, despite significant delays from the winter freeze that disrupted its delivery operations and sapped its profit by $350 million. FedEx, like its competitor
United Parcel Service,
has been handling a surge in e-commerce orders during the pandemic as more people shop from home, and FedEx executives said they expected that trend to continue even as Covid-19 vaccines roll out. FedEx shares gained 6.1% Friday.
Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber is making a costly shift in the U.K. The ride-hailing company said Tuesday it will reclassify its U.K. drivers as “workers” rather than independent contractors, entitling them to vacation pay and pension contributions. Uber announced the changes, effective Wednesday, after losing its final appeal last month of lower-court decisions that had granted a group of former Uber drivers a type of U.K. employment status that falls between employee and self-employed. In November, Uber won a major ballot battle in its home state of California that exempted it from having to reclassify its drivers as employees eligible for broad employment benefits. Uber shares lost 4.2% Wednesday.
A yearlong reprieve for Wall Street is coming to an end. The Federal Reserve said Friday that it wouldn’t extend the emergency relief that eased the capital requirements for big banks during the pandemic, putting pressure on bank stocks. The reprieve temporarily excluded one-year Treasurys and deposits held at the central bank from banks’ supplementary leverage ratio calculation. That allows banks to replace their stockpiles of cash, U.S. government debt and other safe assets in the asset pool with loans to cash-strapped consumers and businesses. Banks had pressed for an extension, saying that without it they might pull back significantly from Treasury purchases. JPMorgan Chase shares fell 1.6% Friday.
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