A coronavirus testing site in Costa Mesa, Calif. Optimism about effective vaccine trials has helped lift the S&P 500 index by more than 10 percent this month.
Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Stock markets in the United States were set to open higher on Wednesday, futures indicated, as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine vied with continuing worries about the spread of the pandemic. Most stock indexes in Europe were gaining ground, while Asian markets ended the day mixed.

  • Optimism about effective vaccine trials has helped lift the S&P 500 index by more than 10 percent this month. But exuberance about vaccines has been tempered by the number of coronavirus cases climbing to record highs in the United States. There have also been announcements of new shutdowns in other parts of the world, including Sweden and Australia, months before the vaccines will be widely available. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration gave an emergency authorization for an at-home rapid coronavirus test.

  • The aerospace giant Boeing on Wednesday received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to resume flights for its 737 Max. The plane had been grounded for 20 months following two fatal crashes that were blamed on faulty software and company and government failures. Boeing’s shares were up nearly 6 percent in premarket trading.

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4 percent. The CAC index in France was 0.5 percent higher and the DAX index in Germany rose 0.4 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index closed 1.1 percent lower as Tokyo reported a record number of new coronavirus infections. The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent.

  • Oil prices in Europe and the United States rose just over 1 percent. Futures of West Texas Intermediate were $41.88 a barrel. Gold prices fell 0.7 percent.

  • Bitcoin, the digital currency, rose above $18,000, approaching the record it reached in late 2017 before its price crashed.

  • Shares in British Land, a large property developer that owns retail space and offices in London, fell more than 3 percent after the company reported a drop in profit for the six months through September and said it was halving the frequency of its dividend payments. But the company said it was still collecting almost all of its rent on offices, and just over 60 percent of its rent for retail properties in the third quarter.

  • Shares in SSE, the Scottish energy company, rose for the first time in five days after it reported earnings in line with its previous guidance. SSE is trying to position itself as a leading provider of wind and other renewable energy, and on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £12 billion (nearly $16 billion) investment in a “green industrial revolution,” which included an aim to produce enough offshore wind to power every home.

On Day 2 of the DealBook Online Summit, we will hear from more top leaders on the world’s economic challenges, innovation in the age of Big Tech and the role of corporations in addressing racial inequality.

Here is the lineup (all times Eastern):

9:15 a.m.-10 a.m.

The chief executive of the nation’s largest bank will speak about the vast challenges facing the economy, and the measures that need to be taken to bring the United States together.

Further reading: It’s possible that when the pandemic abates, the economy will snap back on its own. But it could also be a long slog back to health.

11 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

The chief financial officer of the search giant will give an inside view of Big Tech in 2020, the future of remote work and navigating internal and external policy debates.

Further reading: A victory for the U.S. government could remake Google and the internet economy it helped define.

12 P.m.-12:40 P.M.

The founder of the maker of Fortnite will explain the future of interactivity and his battle to foster innovation while competing with larger rivals.

Further reading: Tim Sweeney’s yearslong crusade to rein in the power of tech giants like Apple and Google suggests that it’s not something he will easily drop.

2 P.m.-3 P.M.

This panel of leaders from the worlds of business and culture will discuss corporate pledges on racial equality and debate how business leaders can create lasting benefits for underserved communities.

Further reading: When corporations belatedly try to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, they often drop the responsibility on their few Black employees.

Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely on Tuesday while Senator John Kennedy looks on.
Credit…Pool photo by Hannah Mckay

Senators took the chief executives of Facebook and Twitter to task on Tuesday for how the services handled misinformation around the election, showing bipartisan support for changing a law that protects the companies from lawsuits.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that lasted more than four hours, the lawmakers forced Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter to defend their companies’ efforts to limit the spread of false information about voting and the election results. Republicans accused the companies of censoring conservative voices while Democrats complained about a continued surge of hate and misinformation online.

Here are the highlights from the hearing:

  • Lawmakers concentrated on how Facebook and Twitter moderate content. Both Democrats and Republicans focused on the minutiae of how Facebook and Twitter moderate the billions of pieces of content posted to their networks. Out of 127 total questions, more than half — 67 — were about content moderation.

  • Democrats called for more regulation of the tech industry. Several Democrats blamed Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Dorsey for a surge of hate speech and election disinformation after the election. They pointed to comments on Facebook from Steve Bannon, the former senior adviser to President Trump, who suggested beheading Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, and posts on Facebook groups that spread false conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

  • Mr. Zuckerberg promised to be vigilant about moderating calls for violence. “I’m very worried about this, especially any misinformation that could incite violence in such a volatile period like this,” he said.

  • Republicans homed in on bias complaints. The committee’s Republicans attacked the power that social media companies have to moderate content on their platforms, accusing them of making politically slanted calls while hiding behind the decades-old liability shield of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that gives the companies legal protection for content posted by users.

  • Twitter and Facebook differed on how to handle Trump’s accounts after his presidency. Mr. Dorsey said Twitter would no longer make policy exceptions for Mr. Trump. During Mr. Trump’s time as a world leader, Twitter allowed him to post content that violated its rules, though it began adding labels to some of the tweets in May to indicate that the posts were disputed or glorified violence.

    In contrast, Mr. Zuckerberg said Facebook would not change the way it moderated Mr. Trump. Since Election Day, Facebook has labeled a few of his posts and has pointed users to accurate information about the results of the election, but it generally takes a hands-off approach.

Kellen Browning contributed reporting.

“Work is so much more than what you’re taking home as payment,” Laci Oyler said. But when cutting her hours wasn’t enough to deal with child care, she quit her job.
Credit…Sara Stathas for The New York Times

First, the parts of the economy that were smacked hardest and earliest by job losses were ones where women dominate — restaurants, retail businesses and health care.

Then, a second wave began taking out local and state government jobs, another area where women outnumber men.

The third blow has, for many, been the knockout: the closing of child care centers and the shift to remote schooling. That has saddled working mothers, much more than fathers, with overwhelming household responsibilities.

It is a rare and ruinous one-two-three punch that’s not just pushing women out of jobs they held, but also preventing many from seeking new ones, The New York Times’s Patricia Cohen reports. For an individual, it could limit prospects and earnings over a lifetime. Across a nation, it could stunt growth, robbing the economy of educated, experienced and dedicated workers.

  • The latest jobs report from the Labor Department showed that there were 4.5 million fewer women employed in October than there were a year ago, compared with 4.1 million men.

  • According to the Census Bureau, a third of the working women 25 to 44 years old who are unemployed said the reason was child care demands. Only 12 percent of unemployed men cited those demands.

  • The burdens of the pandemic-induced recession have fallen most heavily on low-income and minority women and single mothers. The jobless rate is 9.2 percent for Black women and 9 percent for Hispanic women, compared with 6.5 percent for women over all.

  • Changes forced on women by the pandemic elicit a mixture of anxiety and hope. Many women worry that the changes will sharply narrow women’s choices and push them unwillingly into the unpaid role of full-time homemaker.

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, underscored the impact during a webcast event on Tuesday. Citing the departure of women from the work force in “big numbers now as children stay home,” he added, “You could see women who not by preference, but by requirement, are at home, and their careers may be hurt.”

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