G.M. will increase production of cars and trucks as the chip shortage eases.

Daily Business Briefing


June 3, 2021, 12:27 p.m. ET

Credit…Associated Press

General Motors said Thursday it expected to increase shipments of pickup trucks and other vehicles to dealers over the next several weeks, a sign that the global shortage of computer chips is beginning to ease.

G.M.’s financial results in the first half of the year would be “significantly better” than it had previously forecast, the automaker said in a statement. The company had previously indicated that its profit would fall to about $500 million in the second quarter, from more than $3 billion in the first quarter. The company had blamed the chip shortage for forcing it to idle several plants for weeks at a time.

“The global semiconductor shortage remains complex and very fluid,” Phil Kienle, G.M.’s vice president for North America manufacturing and labor relations, said in the statement. “Customer demand continues to be very strong, and G.M.’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing teams have done a remarkable job maximizing production of high-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles.”

G.M. said it planned to increase production of its heavy-duty pickups at a plant in Flint, Mich., next month. It said output would rise by about 1,000 trucks per month. Other factories will forego usual vacation closures this summer to make up for some of the production lost earlier this year.

The company also expects to ship to dealers a batch of about 30,000 midsize pickups from a plant in Wentzville, Mo. These trucks that had been assembled without certain electronic components and had been kept at the plant until the missing parts arrived.

Other automakers have also been slowed by the chip shortage. Ford Motor has said it expects to make half as many cars in the second quarter as it originally planned. Tesla has increased prices of some of its cars, and stopped using radar sensors as part of its Autopilot driver-assistance system.

“Our biggest challenge is supply chain, especially microcontroller chips,” Tesla’ chief executive, Elon Musk, said Wednesday on Twitter. “Never seen anything like it.”

AMC Entertainment’s gravity-defying run in the stock market came to halt on Thursday after the movie-theater chain said it planned to sell an additional 11.55 million shares. At the stock’s closing price on Wednesday, that sale would raise more than $720 million.

The stock slid nearly 30 percent in early trading, after climbing about 20 percent in premarket trading ahead of the share sale announcement.

On Wednesday AMC’s price nearly doubled, to $62.55 a share, after the company said it would offer free popcorn and other perks to the more than three million retail investors that own shares in the company.

AMC has been embraced by small investors seeking to raise the price of certain companies that have come to be known as meme stocks because the traders promote their ideas on social media platforms. Their interest in companies has resulted in eye-popping surges in share prices — AMC was trading at just above $2 a share at the start of the year.

These small shareholders now own 80 percent of AMC, the company said. Other meme stocks also tumbled in early trading Thursday, including GameStop, which dropped 5 percent.

U.S. stocks fell as traders cautiously approached two reports on the labor market. Weekly data on initial claims for state jobless benefits showed that claims rose slightly from last week to about 425,000.

On Friday, the Labor Department will publish its monthly jobs report. Last month, that report showed an unexpectedly small increase in hiring in April.

The S&P 500 dropped about half a percent in early trading.

Investors are also watching the Federal Reserve closely for signs that it will pull back its monetary stimulus, which has helped keep asset prices high. Patrick Harker, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said on Wednesday that it “may be time to at least think about thinking about tapering” the Fed’s government bond-buying program.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced that it would sell its relatively small holdings of corporate bonds, which were bought last year to stabilize the bond market in the early months of the pandemic.

Most European stock indexes were down on Thursday. The FTSE 100 in Britain dropped 0.9 percent, falling more than other major European indexes. There is speculation that the final lifting of social-distancing restrictions in Britain, scheduled for June 21, might be delayed because of the spread of the coronavirus variant first discovered in India.

Businesses have returned to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.
Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times
  • Initial claims for state jobless benefits were little changed last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • The weekly figure was about 425,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week. New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for jobless freelancers, gig workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits, totaled 76,000, a decline of 17,000 from the prior week. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. (On a seasonally adjusted basis, state claims totaled 385,000, a decline of 20,000.)

  • New state claims remain high by historical levels but are less than half the level recorded as recently as early February. The benefit filings, something of a proxy for layoffs, have receded as businesses return to fuller operations, particularly in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.

  • The government will provide a more complete look at the employment market on Friday, when the monthly jobs report for May is released. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate that employers added about 655,000 positions in the month, the median forecast shows.

A JBS plant in Plainwell, Mich.
Credit…Jeff Kowalsky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Production resumed at nine JBS beef plants in the United States on Wednesday after a ransomware attack shut them down. The F.B.I. said the perpetrator was a Russian-based criminal group known for its cyberattacks on prominent American companies.

Thousands of workers at JBS’s beef, pork and poultry plants in Australia, Canada and the United States were affected as shifts were altered or canceled on Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s the latest news:

  • JBS, a Brazilian company that accounts for roughly a fifth of cattle and hog slaughter in the United States, expects operations at its JBS USA and Pilgrim’s subsidiaries to be near full capacity by Thursday, according to a statement posted on the company’s website.

  • “JBS USA and Pilgrim’s continue to make significant progress in restoring our IT systems and returning to business as usual,” Andre Nogueira, the chief executive of JBS USA, said in the statement.

  • In Australia, operations were slower to restart. Workers at a slaughterhouse in Tasmania have been told they are going back to work Friday, said Andrew Foden, the Tasmanian secretary of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union. “At the moment in Tasmania, they’re all stood down without pay, but I do believe they’re all attending from work from tomorrow,” he said.

  • In the past week, dozens of organizations have been hit by ransomware attacks, including the City University of New York; the Massachusetts Steamship Authority, which runs ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket; and the Birmingham Barons, a minor-league baseball team.

Yan Zhuang contributed reporting.

At the beginning of the year, AMC Entertainment, the movie theater chain, was worth some $450 million in market capitalization, about a tenth of its prepandemic high. It has since been swept up in the meme-stock mania, with groups of retail traders banding together to buy and hold its stock, sending it to new heights.

As it reopens theaters and tries to lure people back, AMC has suddenly become worth more than eight times its best days before the outbreak, driven by an investor frenzy untethered to the company’s fundamental financial prospects, reports the DealBook newsletter.

AMC Entertainment market capitalization

To put the stock’s recent run into perspective, in early 2021, it was worth about as much as Franklin Covey, the maker of Franklin day planners. At its peak during January’s meme-stock surge (which centered on the video game retailer GameStop), AMC rose to around $4.5 billion in market cap, or roughly the same as H&R Block, the tax provider. That was a big move at the time, but it pales in comparison to the past week.

After a torrid few trading days, AMC is now worth more than $30 billion, or roughly the same as Delta Air Lines.

Grocery workers say mask use has fallen substantially after the C.D.C.’s guidance for vaccinated Americans.
Credit…Carlos Bernate for The New York Times

Retail, hospitality and fast-food workers across the country interviewed by The New York Times expressed alarm that their employers had used new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make masks optional for vaccinated customers.

Some said they had been vaccinated but worried they could still get sick or infect family members who were not or could not get vaccinated. Others said they had yet to be vaccinated, Noam Scheiber reports for The Times.

Matt Kennon, a room-service server at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss., said that before the C.D.C. relaxed its recommendations, the resort’s policy was that all guests must wear masks in common areas unless they were eating, drinking or smoking, and that it was strictly enforced.

“There were several security checkpoints around the place where we’d have someone from security let them know, ‘Please put on a mask,’” said Mr. Kennon, a shop steward with his union, UNITE HERE. “There were stations with disposable masks for guests to wear in case they didn’t have one.”

Mr. Kennon said the policy remained in place even after the governor lifted a statewide mask mandate in early March, but changed after the C.D.C. announcement. Vaccinated guests are allowed to walk around without masks, but there is no way to verify vaccination status and fewer than half of guests are wearing them, according to Mr. Kennon.

  • Activist investors secured a third seat on Exxon’s board on Wednesday when the oil giant announced updated results of a shareholder vote. The newest member, Alexander A. Karsner, has strong environmental credentials and is expected to pose a challenge to senior management. Investor discontent with Exxon had been building because the company has invested in a number of projects, acquisitions and strategies that have not paid off, including Canadian oil sands and natural gas fields. Critics also believe that the company has been slow to adapt to a changing energy industry and done too little to reduce carbon emissions.

People gathered in support of Palestinians at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn last month.
Credit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

Discontent at Facebook has surged over its recent handling of international affairs, according to interviews with more than half a dozen current and former employees.

For weeks, they said, employees have complained about the company’s decisions to take down posts from prominent Palestinian activists and messages critical of the Indian government’s handling of the pandemic, Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac report for The New York Times.

The workers have grilled top executives at meetings about the situations and, in one case, formed a group to internally report Palestinian content that they believe Facebook had wrongly removed. This week, more than 200 employees also signed an open letter calling for a third-party audit of Facebook’s treatment of Arab and Muslim posts, according to a person who saw the letter.

The actions are another sign of internal unrest at Facebook as employee criticism broadens beyond domestic issues. For the past few years, workers largely challenged Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, on his handling of inflammatory posts from former President Donald J. Trump. But since Mr. Trump left office in January, attention has shifted to Facebook’s global policies and what employees said was the company’s acquiescence to governments so that it could continue profiting in those countries.

“There’s a feeling among people at Facebook that this is a systematic approach, one which favors strong government leaders over the principles of doing what is right and correct,” said Ashraf Zeitoon, Facebook’s former head of policy for the Middle East and North Africa region, who left in 2017.

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