Market Rally Fizzles as Political Uncertainty Lingers: Live Business Updates

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

European Union regulators brought antitrust charges against Amazon on Tuesday, saying the online retail giant broke competition laws by unfairly using its size and access to data to harm smaller merchants who rely on the company to reach customers, writes Adam Satariano of The New York Times.

Here’s what you need to know about the suit:

  • The European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation bloc, said Amazon had abused its duel role as both a retail store used by millions of vendors and a merchant that sells its own competing goods on the platform.

  • The authorities accused Amazon of harvesting data from the millions of merchants who use its marketplace to spot popular products, then copy them and sell at a lower price.

  • The case, which has been expected for months, is the latest front in a trans-Atlantic regulatory push against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as the authorities in the United States and Europe take a more skeptical view of their business practices and dominance of the digital economy.

  • Many in Europe will be watching to see how the Amazon announcement is received by the incoming administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is expected to pursue policies that limit the industry’s power.

  • The announcement on Tuesday was just one part of the regulatory process. It can take many months, or even years, before a fine and other penalties are announced. The commission also could reach a settlement with Amazon.

Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

The energy industry has experienced its worst year in decades because of the pandemic, but clean sources for generating electricity have still managed to grow, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

Consumption of electricity generated by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources will grow nearly 7 percent in 2020, despite the fact that overall energy demand will slump by 5 percent, the steepest drop since World War II, the Paris-based forecasting group said in a report published on Tuesday.

This performance shows that these renewable sources of energy are “immune to Covid,” Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director said at a news conference.

Renewable electricity is growing because of government policies encouraging such investments and strong interest among investors who want to put money into clean energy projects, according to the report.

The world will add nearly 4 percent to its capacity in 2020 to generate electricity from renewables like wind and solar, despite travel restrictions, factory closures and other obstacles caused by the pandemic. Growth next year is expected to accelerate to around 10 percent, as projects disrupted by the pandemic are brought online and efforts by governments in Europe and Asia to kick-start their economies while also tackling climate change ramp up.

Mr. Birol said that a return to the Paris accord on climate change by the United States, as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged, could give “very strong momentum” to this drive, leading to a doubling of renewables capacity in the United States over five years.

Credit…Ysa Pérez for The New York Times

Jay Foreman, chief executive of the toymaker Basic Fun in Boca Raton, Fla., is among the employers who don’t believe the pandemic has fundamentally reordered the way millions of Americans should work.

They are recalling their employees even as the coronavirus surges in parts of the country, arguing that a balance can be struck between safety and the need to reunite under one roof, Nelson D. Schwartz reports for The New York Times.

Some employees have come back eagerly after the distractions of working from home. Others have done so reluctantly after asking for a bit more time. And at least one of Basic Fun’s employees has found another job rather than face returning to the office.

Mr. Foreman is not a mask doubter or a coronavirus skeptic. Nor is he a fan of President Trump, who has questioned the efficacy of masks and criticized the lockdowns that have forced many employees to work from home.

But he believes the necessary steps — like mandatory masks, and desks that are spread out, with hand sanitizer stationed throughout the office — have been taken to ensure his workers’ safety. And that means his employees no longer have a choice to stay home.

“We’re back together working as a team,” he said. Mr. Foreman expects the effects of the pandemic to continue for another year, at least, “but there is no way business will be able to be as efficient working from home as when employees are working together.”

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