Axios Closer

Picture of a golden bell on a white background.

Welcome back to a new week.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 1.2%.

  • Biggest gainer? Cboe Global Markets (+2.3%). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Biggest decliner? Twitter (-11.3%) continues to reel from Elon Musk's deal saga. The company came out swinging in an SEC filing, blasting Musk's reasoning as "invalid and wrongful." Go deeper.

Today's newsletter, edited by Javier E. David, is 621 words, a 2½-minute read.

1 big thing: Sail on, cruisegoers

illustration of Ben Franklin wearing sunglasses sipping on a fruity drink
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Getaways have become costlier than ever — except maybe for travelers looking to cruise, Hope writes. 

Why it matters: Cruise lines are still rebuilding from an industrywide shutdown in 2020.

State of play: The average daily rate for a U.S. hotel room was $153.32 between June 26 and July — up 19.7% from 2019, hospitality data and analytics company STR tells Axios. 

  • Meanwhile, airfares have climbed about 30% higher.
  • But average cruise prices for the month between June 11 and July 11 were 17% lower, according to Tynan Smith of CruiseSheet.

Driving the deals: Older travelers (a core chunk of cruisers) have been harder to lure back, Smith tells Axios. 

  • Cruise operators have also increased capacity on their ships as they’ve loosened COVID protocols. 

By the numbers: There are 230 cruises under $60 per day, including taxes, even for some higher-end routes, according to CruiseSheet.

  • The price difference for inside cabins and balcony rooms has fallen to just 50%, down from 150%.

What they’re saying: “I wouldn't say that these are the best prices I've ever seen ... [but] there's more excellent deals than I've ever seen,” said Smith, who has been cruising for over 20 years. 

What to watch: Despite fears of a recession, cruise executives have been optimistic recently that an all-inclusive service model will still seem like a good value to consumers.

Go deeper.

2. Charted: Twitter's stock swoons

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Twitter's stock has been riding the down escalator since it accepted Elon Musk's acquisition bid — and that has continued after he tried to back out of the deal, Nathan writes.

By the numbers: Twitter shares plunged 11.4% to $32.65 on Monday, a two-year low.

  • The stock is now worth about 40% less than the price at which Musk agreed to buy the company — $54.20.

What we're watching: Whether Musk and Twitter strike a merger deal at a lower price. Or an end to the saga that forces Musk to pay a breakup fee.

Go deeper.

3. What's happening

🚪Gap CEO steps down as Old Navy brand struggles. (WSJ)

Investors cut Klarna's valuation by 85%. (Axios Pro)

🐦 Musk leveraged the Twitter deal to sell $8.5B in Tesla stock. (Fortune)

🚘 Electric vehicle startup Rivian is planning hundreds of job cuts. (Bloomberg)

4. The pill could go OTC

A packet of birth control pills
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A unit of pharmaceutical company Perrigo on Monday asked the FDA for approval to sell a birth control pill over the counter, rather than via prescription, Axios' Ivana Saric reports.

Why it matters: If approved, it would be the first-ever birth control pill to be available over the counter in the U.S.

State of play: FDA approval could come next year and would only apply to Perrigo unit HRA Pharma's Opill, per AP.

  • Another pill manufacturer, Cadence Health, aims to get closer to submitting an OTC application for its birth control pill in the coming year as well, the New York Times reported.

The big picture: Last month, the American Medical Association called on the FDA to make birth control pills available over the counter to Americans without an age restriction.

Go deeper.

5. Data with a side of fries

Illustration of a burger, drink, and fries, sitting on a cell phone as if it were a tray
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fast-food giants are using free fries to build bigger customer databases, Hope writes.

Catch up quick: Wednesday is apparently National French Fry Day.

  • Both McDonald's and Wendy's are giving away fries this week when customers use each chain's app and are part of the brands' loyalty programs, CNN reports.

The big picture: Digital sales are driving billions of dollars into brick and mortar chains, not to mention adding data about their customers to help design and target future promotions.

6. What they're saying

"No."
— Costco CEO Craig Jelinek, when asked by CNBC if the big-box store would raise prices on its $1.50 hot dog/soda combo.

Join Axios’ Javier E. David, Erica Pandey and Niala Boodhoo tomorrow at 3:30pm ET for a virtual event exploring the digitization of small business. Guests include SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, 1863 Ventures founder and managing partner Melissa Bradley, and National Small Business Association president and CEO Todd McCracken. Register here.

Thanks to Sheryl Miller for copy editing today's (and every day's) newsletter.