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Financial News

Feb 28, 2022

The Weekly Scan February 28, 2022

By Stash Team

Find out what’s happening in the world of business this week.

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Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of February 28, 2022.

War in Ukraine. Markets tumbled late last week as Russia invaded Ukraine, and Western and Asian nations enacted economic sanctions against Russia for its unprovoked attack. The sanctions include blocking technology exports, freezing financial assets, and preventing large state-owned Russian companies, such as natural gas concern Gazprom, from raising money in bond markets. The Nasdaq, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and S&P 500 have all touched upon correction territory in recent weeks.

  • The takeaway: Russia is one of the largest producers of commodities needed worldwide, including oil, natural gas, and wheat. Ukraine is also a major exporter of wheat and corn. Prices for these commodities rose last week, with oil approaching $105 a gallon, and  wheat surging past 10-year highs. The escalation in prices comes as consumers are already feeling the pinch of inflation, which rose to 7.5% in January, a 40-year high. 

CNN, WSJ

New Covid-19 booster. Pharmaceutical company Sanofi is seeking approval for a new Covid-19 vaccine that it says is 100% effective against severe Covid-19 disease for people who have received previous Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters. The Paris-based pharmaceutical company claims its shot may increase virus antibodies up to 30 times. The vaccination, which requires two doses,  is based on more traditional protein-based technology and may be easier to store and transport than currently available mRNA vaccines, which require storage at low temperatures. Sanofi, which developed the vaccine in conjunction with London-based GlaxoSmithKline, received $2 billion from the U.S. federal government in 2020 for development.

  • The takeaway: Covid illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths globally have escalated in recent months, following the spread of Omicron, a highly contagious strain of the virus, which began circulating in November, 2021. Nearly 1 million people have died from Covid-19 in the U.S. and approximately six million people have died from the disease globally since the beginning of the pandemic.The new vaccine would add to an arsenal of shots provided by Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. Meanwhile, Moderna recently said Covid-19 is entering a more predictable endemic phase and, like flu, could require annual vaccinations. 

Reuters

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State of the union. Starbucks employees may be one step closer to unionizing, after the National Labor RelatIons Board (NLRB) ruled that workers at single stores may organize. Starbucks had previously argued before the board that workers must unionize in larger geographic areas and hold a single election, effectively making unionization more difficult, according to reports. The NLRB is an independent government agency that oversees issues of collective bargaining between employees and companies. 

  • The takeaway: To attract workers and fend off threats of unionization last year, Starbucks announced it would increase its average hourly wage to approximately $17 by summer of 2022.  Workers at more than 100 Starbucks stores have filed for union elections, while workers at two stores Buffalo, New York have already unionized.

NYT

IRA all the way. The number of people who socked away $1 million or more in IRA and 401(k) retirement saving plans reached a record high in the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s according to new data from Fidelity, the largest provider of retirement plans in the U.S., which counted 376,100 IRA millionaires and 442,000 401(k) millionaires among its customers. That’s an increase of 30% and 32% respectively, compared to the same period a year ago. 

  • The takeaway: Americans are sitting on record savings of $2.7 trillion since the pandemic began in 2020, thanks in part to various federal stimulus programs, such as the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan, that have resulted in billions of dollars of direct payments to U.S. consumers. However, just over half of consumers have access to workplace retirement plans, according to federal data, with just 35 percent of Black families and 26 percent of Hispanic families having access to such accounts, compared to 57 percent of White families.  

Washington Post

 Here’s what we covered last week in the Scan: 

  • Remington Arms Co. reaches a $73 million settlement with families of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 
  • Google announces new restrictions on tracking for Android devices, and upgrades to privacy.
  • DoorDash beats revenue expectations as food delivery demand continues to surge.
  • The U.S. pauses avocado imports from Mexico following threats to a food safety inspector, sparking fear of shortages.

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Stash Team

Nothing in this material should be construed as an offer, recommendation, or solicitation to buy or sell any security. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value. All product and company names are trademarks ™ or registered ® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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