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The daily business briefing: September 11, 2020

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Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked Republicans’ “skinny” coronavirus relief bill, keeping the proposed stimulus package from meeting the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster. The bill’s failure made it highly unlikely Congress would approve more aid before the November election. Senate Democrats said the $650 million package wasn’t close to being enough. House Democrats originally wanted $3 trillion but have said they would accept $2.4 trillion. Republicans said the limited relief targeted the needs most lawmakers agreed about. All present Democrats and Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted no, and the vote fell short 52-47. “It’s a sort of a dead end street, and very unfortunate,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan). “But it is what it is.” [The Associated Press, The New York Times]


Peloton Interactive reported its first quarterly profit on Thursday, as revenue tripled thanks to surging demand for home fitness gear during the coronavirus crisis. Peloton said sales increased by 172 percent and its remote fitness class subscriptions reached 1.1 million in the most recent quarter, up from 886,100 at the end of March. Peloton said its $39-a-month subscriptions could nearly double in its 2021 fiscal year. The company said it had increased production of its stationary bicycles and treadmills to reduce wait times for deliveries, although it could take several months to get back to normal. The news sent Peloton shares rising by nearly 8 percent in after-hours trading. [The Wall Street Journal, CNBC]


The Labor Department on Thursday reported that 884,000 people filed initial applications for unemployment benefits last week, more than the 850,000 that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected. The total was unchanged from the previous week, although without adjusting for seasonal factors there was an increase of 20,140. The numbers signaled a possible slowdown in improvement in the labor market seen over the summer as many businesses reopened after spring coronavirus lockdowns. The pandemic triggered unprecedented job losses when it hit the U.S. Non-farm payrolls declined by 22 million at the start of the crisis, although half of those jobs have been recovered. [CNBC]


Citigroup announced Thursday that Jane Fraser, who helped steer the nation’s third-largest bank after the financial crisis, will take over as CEO after Michael Corbat retires in February. Corbat said in a memo to employees that Fraser’s appointment as the first female CEO of Citigroup, or any major Wall Street bank, was “a point of pride for all of us and groundbreaking in our industry.” The bank named Fraser, described by a retired former Citigroup leader as “tough as nails” but “incredibly nice,” as its president and put her in charge of its global consumer bank last year after rival Wells Fargo tried to poach her to fill its then-open top job. Corbat has run the bank since Vikram Pandit left abruptly in 2012, and he had been expected to stick around until 2022. [The Wall Street Journal]


U.S. stock index futures rose early Friday after Thursday’s volatile session ended in big losses. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.8 percent several hours before the opening bell, while those of the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained about 1 percent. All three of the main U.S. indexes closed down by more than 1 percent on Thursday. Big tech shares, which have climbed during the coronavirus crisis as Americans shifted more work and entertainment online, continued to fight downward pressure. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, and Microsoft all fell. Tesla closed up by 1.4 percent after trading up by more than 8 percent at one point. [CNBC, Reuters]

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