Business Highlights

November 13, 2017


Oil prices are up now, but surge might be short-term

The price of oil has risen by about one-third since the summer, but many experts think the surge won’t last. They point to growing U.S. production. Still, higher prices for energy could translate into higher prices for airline tickets and consumer goods.


Trump turns to drug industry for his new health secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has picked a former top pharmaceutical and government executive to be his health and human services secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Alex Azar will oversee a $1 trillion department responsible for major health insurance programs, medical research, food and drug safety, and public health. Top Democrats in Congress are skeptical, but also say they hope Azar can bring a shift from an ideological hard line on government health care programs.


Talks begin to rewrite rules protecting students from fraud

WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Department officials have opened formal negotiations to rewrite federal rules meant to protect students from fraud by colleges and universities. The talks with university representative and student advocates are taking place as the department faces criticism for delaying consideration of tens of thousands of loan forgiveness claims from students who say they were defrauded by for-profit colleges.


Light at the end of GE’s tunnel? Lighting, more, may be gone

NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric slashed its dividend in half and will attempt to vastly narrow its focus to three key sectors — aviation, health care and energy — as the conglomerate with early ties to Thomas Edison considers shedding even its historic lighting business. The company also pulled back on profit expectations Monday and it shares slumped 7.2 percent, their biggest one-day loss since the financial crisis was roiling the stock market in early 2009.


Uncertainty clouds plans for Venezuela’s financial recovery

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Cash-strapped Venezuela is launching into a discussion Monday with foreign investors about rescuing itself from crushing debt incurred during better times for the oil-rich country. Investors eager to be paid back, however, worry that confusion clouds the meeting. It’s nearly impossible for Americans to enter Venezuela on short notice, the government has provided them with no blueprint as a starting point and officials heading the talks have been sanctioned by the Trump administration.


Puerto Rico seeks $94 billion in federal aid after hurricane

WASHINGTON (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor is asking the federal government for $94.4 billion as the island struggles to recover from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria, with much of the island without power and thousands of U.S. citizens still homeless. Ricardo Rosello also urged Congress on Monday to adopt a tax overhaul plan that addresses the territory’s specific needs to avoid an exodus of the companies that currently generate 42 percent of the island’s gross domestic product.


Brand diplomacy: in Louvre, France hones soft power strategy

PARIS (AP) — The French are using brand diplomacy to exert cultural influence in a rapidly-changing, globalized world. The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi this weekend is the latest example of how traditional French cultural diplomacy is being supplanted by brand politics. This can be seen in the exporting of Sorbonne’s academic reputation, the proliferation of Christian Dior boutiques in Asia and the cuisine of master chef Alain Ducasse.


Tax jump for households earning under $200K

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional analysts say the Republican Senate tax bill would increase taxes in 2019 for some 13.8 million U.S households earning less than $200,000 a year. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation provided the analysis Monday. The legislation has been promoted as a boon to the middle class. But the latest analysis shows that by 2025, 21.4 million households would face a tax increase.


Uber seals multibillion-dollar investment from Softbank

DETROIT (AP) — Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank has reached a deal with Uber to invest billions in the ride-hailing giant. Uber Technologies Inc. confirmed the investment in a statement Sunday without giving details. In the statement, Uber says deal is a vote of confidence in the company’s potential and “will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”


US budget deficit up sharply to $63.2 billion in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government began its new budget year with an October deficit of $63.2 billion, up sharply from a year ago. The Treasury Department says the October deficit was 37.9 percent higher than the $45.8 billion deficit recorded in October 2016.


Consumer goods firms lead US stocks slightly higher

NEW YORK (AP) — The major U.S. stock indexes capped a day of mostly subdued trading with slight gains Monday. Consumer and household goods companies posted some of the biggest gains, offsetting losses by industrial and energy stocks. A batch of corporate deal news also helped put investors in a buying mood. Mattel soared nearly 21 percent on a report that Hasbro offered to buy the rival toymaker. General Electric slumped about 7 percent after cutting its dividend and releasing a weak forecast for next year.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,584.84. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 17.49 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,439.70. The Nasdaq composite added 6.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,757.60. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 0.21 o a point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,475.07.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2 cents to settle at $56.76 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 36 cents to close at $63.16 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline gave up 2 cents to $1.79 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.93 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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