A potential acceleration of the Fed’s tapering schedule, an injunction against COVID-19 vaccine mandates at health care facilities, the impact of the Omicron variant on certain business sectors, a drop in Thanksgiving weekend shopping, sustained growth in renewable energy, and an increase in Connecticut’s COVID-19 cases are among the top business news items this morning.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the central bank could hasten its tapering process in response to more persistent inflation. The Fed initially announced a plan to cut back its $120 billion in government-backed securities per month to zero by mid-2022, but Powell said the tapering process could be sped up to end a few months earlier.
A federal judge temporarily blocked a federal mandate requiring workers at health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The ruling makes the injunction nationwide, following a previous decision applying to 10 states.
Worries about the emerging Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been creating concerns for certain industries, including fears that it will further dampen demand for office space. Business leaders in Europe have also been curtailing plans for business travel and events.
Fewer people did holiday shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend, with the National Retail Federation reporting that the number of people making purchases online or in stores between Thursday and Monday was down from both 2020 and 2019. Cyber Monday sales fell for the first time since this occasion was established, falling from $10.8 billion to $10.7 billion.
Higher coal and oil prices are sustaining growth in renewable energy sources. The International Energy Agency anticipates that solar and wind installations will add 290 gigawatts of capacity in 2021, a 3 percent rise from 2020.
Connecticut’s daily test positivity rate for COVID-19 reached nearly 6 percent on Tuesday, the highest in almost a year. The data prompted Governor Ned Lamont to renew his call for residents to get vaccinated or boosted as the holidays approach, but he also said it would not prompt any new restrictions or mandates.