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North American Morning Briefing : -2-

11/30/2021 | 06:07am EST

FTC Asks Amazon, Walmart for Information About Supply-Chain Issues

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking information from Amazon.com Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Walmart Inc. and others about how they are handling supply-chain snarls, part of a study into whether the problems have led to anticompetitive behavior and higher prices.

The document request isn't part of any law-enforcement action, the FTC said in a press release. Instead, the agency said it is looking to understand the reasons behind the widespread supply-chain problems that have crimped economic growth.

Lululemon Hits Back at Peloton, Sues Over Allegedly Copied Designs

Lululemon and Peloton used to make workout clothes together. Now, they're locked in a legal battle.

The first lawsuit came last week, when Peloton Interactive Inc. pre-emptively sued Lululemon Athletica Inc. in the Southern District of New York, asking a federal court to declare that it didn't infringe on Lululemon's designs.

Amazon Alabama Workers to Hold New Union Vote, Federal Labor Official Rules

A federal official has ordered a new unionization vote for Amazon.com Inc. workers in Alabama, saying the company violated labor law in its campaign against organizing earlier this year, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

The ruling sets the stage for a new vote in a contest that drew attention to the working conditions of warehouse employees at Amazon, the nation's second-largest private employer. President Biden voiced his support for the workers, and a number of Democratic politicians and celebrities also joined their cause.

Schick Owner Edgewell Personal Care Buys Women's Razor Brand Billie

The maker of Schick razors has acquired women's razor maker Billie Inc., after federal antitrust regulators scuttled an attempt by rival Procter & Gamble Co. to buy the online startup.

Edgewell Personal Care Co. said Monday it paid $310 million for Billie, which also sells body lotion, lip balm and other personal care products online. Billie's annual revenue is around $90 million, the company said.

CNN to Review Records Showing Chris Cuomo's Involvement in Coaching Brother

CNN said it would review newly released records that show anchor Chris Cuomo coaching his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on possible responses to allegations of sexual harassment.

The records, which were released Monday by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James from an investigation conducted into allegations of sexual harassment against Andrew Cuomo, include text messages sent by Chris Cuomo to one of his brother's top aides and a transcript of an interview with Chris Cuomo conducted by investigators working for Ms. James.

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Testifies Balwani Berated, Abused Her

In tearful and intense testimony, Elizabeth Holmes said from the witness stand Monday that she had been raped while studying at Stanford University and not long after entered into an abusive relationship with the man who would become her top deputy at Theranos Inc.

"He told me that I didn't know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished at my mediocrity, and that if I followed my instincts I was going to fail," Ms. Holmes said.

Covid-19 Variant Omicron Threatens U.S., Global Economies

The global economy could suffer a modest blow from the Omicron variant of Covid-19, though the scale of damage will hinge on the potency of the strain itself, economists say.

Tourism spending will likely weaken, and perhaps so too will restaurant spending and shopping at stores. But compared with the initial wave of Covid-19 in March 2020 and the Delta variant this summer, Omicron's threat to economies will likely be less severe, economists say, in part because each new virus strain has had a diminished economic impact.

Gas Prices Pressure Drivers' Finances

Rachel Gould spends $50 on gas taking her two special-needs children on the three-hour trip from her home in Central Illinois to a hospital in St. Louis. That is roughly a 60% increase from the same time last year.

"You have to have gas and have to pay for it either way you look at it," said Mrs. Gould, who drives a Dodge Caravan that gets 23 miles to the gallon.

America's Power Plants Are Low on Coal

A lump of coal would be a welcome gift for many U.S. utilities.

Coal piles at power plants have dwindled to their lowest point since the 1970s, and the race to build up inventories ahead of heating season has sent domestic thermal coal prices to their highest levels in more than a decade.

New Omicron Variant Exacerbates Inflation Uncertainty, Powell Says

The new Omicron coronavirus variant risks intensifying supply-chain disruptions that have fueled a surge in inflation this year, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in testimony released Monday afternoon.

Mr. Powell is set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee alongside Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday morning.

China Manufacturing Gauge Shows Rebound in November

BEIJING-An official gauge of China's manufacturing unexpectedly rebounded to expansion in November, ending a two-month contraction resulting from a power crunch.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 50.1 in November from October's 49.2, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.

Cyber Monday Sales Flat as Smaller Savings Curb Incentive to Spend

U.S. online sales were flat throughout Cyber Monday, as smaller discounts gave shoppers less incentive to spend, but analysts say sales could finish slightly higher than last year by the time West Coast shoppers finish for the night.

Shoppers spent $7.1 billion online as of 9 p.m. eastern time in the U.S., according to transaction data compiled by the Adobe Digital Economy Index. Shoppers are expected to spend between $10.4 billion and $11.1 billion on Cyber Monday, Adobe said. American consumers spent $10.8 billion online last year.

FTC Asks Amazon, Walmart for Information About Supply-Chain Issues

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking information from Amazon.com Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Walmart Inc. and others about how they are handling supply-chain snarls, part of a study into whether the problems have led to anticompetitive behavior and higher prices.

The document request isn't part of any law-enforcement action, the FTC said in a press release. Instead, the agency said it is looking to understand the reasons behind the widespread supply-chain problems that have crimped economic growth.

U.S., Allies Weigh Response to Russian Military Buildup Around Ukraine

RIGA, Latvia-NATO foreign ministers are meeting here Tuesday to calibrate a response to Russia's military buildup around Ukraine, seeking to deter the Kremlin from any potential assault while making clear the limits of its support.

Concern over the Russian buildup has risen in recent weeks. The U.S. has briefed allies that Moscow could launch a new military operation in Ukraine, following its seizing of Crimea and covert invasion of its neighbor's east in 2014. Russia, which wants to draw the former Soviet republic back into its orbit, says it has no plans to invade and can move troops as it wishes on its sovereign territory.

FDA Moving to Authorize Pfizer-BioNTech Booster for 16-, 17-Year-Olds

The Food and Drug Administration could authorize Covid-19 boosters from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for use in 16- and 17-year olds as soon as next week as concerns rise over a new, possibly more transmissible variant, according to a person familiar with the planning.

The agency is planning to move rapidly to take action on a request by the companies to authorize boosters for 16- and-17 year olds, according to a person familiar with the matter. So far, only people 18 years and older are eligible for boosters.

Omicron Crept Into Australia After Strict Border Rules Were Eased

Two days before Australia tightened border controls in response to the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, a woman arrived in Sydney on a one-stop flight from southern Africa and visited several shops before heading up the coast.

Health officials in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, said the woman was infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19. They are now racing to map her movements and identify contacts in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading in the community.

CDC Says Everyone 18 and Older Should Get Covid-19 Booster Due to Omicron Variant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened its Covid-19 booster-shot recommendations, reflecting the potential threat the new Omicron variant poses to the pandemic response in the U.S. and world-wide.

The CDC on Monday recommended that everyone 18 and older get an additional shot after completing a first course of Covid-19 vaccination. The agency earlier this month encouraged boosters only for those 50 and above, adding that people ages 18 and above could get an additional dose.

Pentagon to Investigate 2019 Syria Airstrike That Killed Women and Children

WASHINGTON-Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered an investigation into a 2019 U.S. strike in Syria that killed dozens of people, including women and children, but that wasn't publicly acknowledged by the military until this year, the Defense Department said Monday.

Gen. Michael X. Garrett, who is in charge of Army Forces Command, will lead the inquiry and will look at the number of civilians killed, whether the U.S. complied with the laws of war in launching the attack, how the military records such events, and whether anyone should be held accountable for the deaths, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Write to paul.larkins@dowjones.com TODAY IN CANADA

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