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FirstFT: Biden celebrates rare legislative success

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Hello and we start this morning with a rare piece of good news for Joe Biden.

Congress last night passed the Chips and Science Act, a $280bn package to boost the domestic semiconductor industry.

The 243-187 House vote in favour of the legislation came hours after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin unexpectedly swung behind a sweeping tax-and-spend bill.

In addition, a gay marriage bill might also garner enough votes from Senate Republicans next week to pass into statute — potentially giving the Biden administration three legislative successes in the run-up to midterm elections in November.

But there remains a concern for the White House: Kyrsten Sinema. The Democratic Senator from Arizona has yet to take a public position on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, as the Build Back Better bill will be renamed. She has long been a critic of the proposal to close the carried-interest loophole.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas and I will be back in your inboxes on Monday — Gordon.

1. Tech earnings round-up Intel shocked Wall Street after the market closed yesterday with a profit warning. The chipmaker’s shares fell 10 per cent after it slashed its financial outlook and reported a slump in second-quarter revenue. Apple said supply chain difficulties were easing as it reported a better than expected rise in earnings. Amazon, in contrast to Intel, beat analysts’ expectations and offered an upbeat outlook for the rest of the year.

2. Xi Jinping warns Joe Biden not to ‘play with fire’ The Chinese and US presidents held a two-hour call yesterday, their first since Beijing was angered by a planned visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Beijing sees trips to Taiwan by US lawmakers as a contravention of its one China policy. Pelosi would be the most senior US lawmaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

3. Jack Ma plans to give up control of Ant Group The Chinese billionaire is planning to give up control of the financial technology group he co-founded, further delaying plans for an initial public offering. Ant’s IPO suspension in November 2020 set off a broad regulatory crackdown on Chinese tech groups, including billions in fines for Ant’s sister company Alibaba.

4. Unwanted debt from buyout boom stuck at investment banks Tens of billions of dollars worth of debt has been stuck on bank balance sheets left over from financings that had been struck before this year’s sell-off rattled financial markets. “The gumming-up of bank balance sheets is basically one of the key factors making the financing of new [takeovers] more difficult,” said one debt banker.

Line chart of Average price of US corporate bonds by rating (cents on the US dollar) showing Corporate bond prices have sunk this year, costing banks billions

LeBron James invests in German bicycle brand Canyon has raised €30mn in a funding round led by US basketball player LeBron James, valuing the German group at €750mn. Canyon sells premium road, mountain and gravel bikes for as much as €8,000 directly to consumers via its website and has enjoyed average sales growth of 21 per cent over the past six years.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

The days ahead

Market outlook Global stock markets are on course for their best month since late 2020. Shares in Amazon leapt 14 per cent higher in after-hours trading in New York, lifting the tech sector that dominates US indices and has an outsized weighting in global markets. Futures contracts tracking the Nasdaq 100 index rose 1.5 per cent today while the broader S&P 500 added 0.8 per cent.

Economic data The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge — the core personal consumption expenditures price index — is released today and probably rose 0.5 per cent in June, according to economists polled by Refinitiv, up from 0.3 per cent in May. Economists estimate that the annual increase remained flat at 4.7 per cent in June. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index is also released and forecast to slightly improve from last month’s reading of 50.

Corporate earnings Oil and gas producers Chevron and ExxonMobil release earnings today and are expected to have benefited from this year’s soaring energy prices. Yesterday Shell broke its profit record for a second consecutive quarter and this morning Italy’s Eni reported higher profits and increased its share buyback plans.

US-Japan EPCC meeting US secretary of state Antony Blinken and secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo co-host the first meeting of the US-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee in Washington.

UEFA Women’s Euro final A record TV audience for a women’s football match is expected to watch England play Germany in the Euro 2022 final on Sunday. England’s Lionesses booked their place at Wembley with an emphatic win against Sweden while Germany overcame a stiffer test against France to reach the finale of the tournament.

What else we’re reading

Is the US economy in recession? A fierce debate has broken out among economists, policymakers, investors and politicians after data released yesterday revealed that the US economy shrank in the three months to June. The contraction for a second consecutive quarter meets one technical definition of a recession but the official US arbiters are yet to rule. What do you think? Email me at firstft@ft.com or reply to this email.

Disney after ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Since it was founded, the entertainment giant has catered to the traditional nuclear family, but in the past 30 years it has also become a mecca for LGBT+ people. Disney is contending with arguably the worst publicity crisis in its history over executives’ bungled response to a Florida bill preventing “sexual orientation or gender identity” discussions in schools.

Extreme heat is a wake-up call for infrastructure investors Europe’s heatwave has made clear failings of infrastructure in extreme weather. Trains moved more slowly. A runway at Luton airport buckled. Schools closed. In a hotter world, infrastructure will need to adapt. All this creates opportunities for investors, writes Alice Ross.

‘It’s chaos there now’ Last week the low-profile Kuwait Investment Authority was dragged into the spotlight after sacking the head of its London investment arm. FT reporters get inside one of the most powerful and respected sovereign wealth funds that has become riven by internal conflict.

WFH debates must include what ‘home’ actually is From affordable accommodation in city centres to commute lengths, the question of where employees live is important, writes Emma Jacobs. Working in a stifling flat is very different to logging on from an airy home, she says, and argues employees’ decisions to move further from work during the pandemic are causing tensions.

Cinema

The FT’s film critic reviews this week’s cinema releases, including Ron Howard’s telling of the 2018 Thai cave rescue of 12 young footballers and their coach, and a love story to volcanos — “one of the year’s most electric pictures”.

Volcanologist Katia Krafft wearing an aluminised suit standing near a lava burst at Krafla volcano, Iceland © Image’Est

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