Business Highlights

December 15, 2017


With Rubio, Corker onboard, GOP finalizes huge tax package

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are solidifying support for a major overhaul of the nation’s tax laws, securing endorsements from wavering senators as they push to muscle the bill through Congress next week and give President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee announced Friday that they would back the bill, the most sweeping re-write of the tax code in more than three decades.


Calendar quirk, Amazon, put pressure on retailers to deliver

NEW YORK (AP) — With Christmas on a Monday, most retailers have one less day to get packages delivered on time. It’s especially important that they hit the mark after some notable missteps with orders earlier in the season, and because Amazon has the advantage of delivering on Sundays. And after promoting the convenience of buying online with store pickup, retailers are also trying to satisfy lots of customers coming in to collect their orders.


EU sees new ‘dramatically difficult’ phase in Brexit talks

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has cleared the way for Brexit talks with Britain to move onto the second stage but warned that the discussions on trade and other matters relating to their future relationship will be “dramatically difficult.” The 27 leaders authorized the move with little fanfare on Friday, almost nine months after Britain triggered the two-year mechanism by which it will leave the bloc.


As Disney swallows Fox, a new era dawns for Hollywood

NEW YORK (AP) — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been forecast to hit Hollywood finally arrived Thursday. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox effectively ends the era of the “Big Six” major movie studios, toppling one of the industry’s most famed studios and dramatically redrawing the Hollywood map. By effectively swallowing 20th Century Fox, Disney has rapidly accelerated the industry contraction that many considered inevitable.


‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ boasts $45 million opening night

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is off to a death star-sized start at the box office. Disney says Friday that the eighth installment in the space franchise has earned an estimated $45 million from Thursday night showings. It’s the second highest Thursday night preview tally following the $57 million start for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”


Lithium battery maker to employ hundreds in Kentucky plant

A California-based battery maker, EnerBlu Inc., is moving its headquarters to Lexington, Kentucky and plans to employ 875 workers to make lithium batteries in the state’s Appalachian region, where the coal industry’s decline has depressed the economy. Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers were among the Kentucky leaders gathering in Pikeville to cheer Friday’s announcement. The state approved up to $30 million in incentives to attract the investment of more than $400 million.


Trump reconsiders rules protecting miners from black lung

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Federal mining regulators are reconsidering regulations intended to protect miners from breathing coal and rock dust, the cause of black lung disease. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has requested public comments on whether standards “could be improved or made more effective or less burdensome by accommodating advances in technology, innovative techniques, or less costly methods.”


Ex-Russian minister jailed for 8 years in sting case

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s former economics minister has been sentenced to eight years in a maximum security prison after being convicted of accepting a $2 million bribe. Alexei Ulyukayev, the highest-ranking Russian official to have been arrested since 1993, was detained last year at the headquarters of Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, after a sting operation by Russia’s main intelligence agency. The case has been seen as a personal vendetta against Ulyukayev.


US stocks move broadly higher in late-afternoon trading

U.S. stocks are moving broadly higher in late-afternoon trading, placing the major indexes on course for new highs. Investors are encouraged by signs that the Republican-backed tax overhaul bill is making progress in Congress. They are also weighing the latest batch of company earnings news. Technology companies, banks and health care stocks are among the biggest gainers.


Tech companies lead US stocks higher as tax plan advances

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street capped the week with broad gains, propelling the major stock indexes to a new set of milestones Friday. Investors welcomed signs that Congressional Republicans were solidifying support for a major overhaul of the nation’s tax laws. Technology stocks led the gains, which more than wiped out the market’s losses from the day before. Health care companies and banks also posted solid gains. Energy stocks were the only laggard.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 23.80 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,675.81. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 143.08 points, or 0.6 percent, to 24,651.74. The Nasdaq added 80.06 points, or 1.2 percent, to 6,936.58. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 23.47 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1,530.42.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to settle at $57.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 8 cents to close at $63.23 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline slipped 2 cents, or 1 percent, to $1.65 a gallon. Heating oil lost a penny to $1.90 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $2.61 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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