5 ways to assess whether the GOP tax plan is delivering
WASHINGTON (AP) — If President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are right, the tax cut plan they sped into law last month will make individuals and businesses more prosperous. Critics counter that the tax plan will mainly enrich the already wealthy and swell corporate profits while leaving most ordinary households with comparatively modest tax cuts — and, eventually, tax hikes. So how best to judge who’s right?
Fed officials expect economic boost from tax cuts
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve policymakers generally agreed last month that the U.S. tax overhaul would likely benefit the economy, but they were split on whether the resulting growth would warrant a faster pace of rate hikes this year. Minutes of the Fed’s Dec. 12-13 meeting released Wednesday show that officials believed the tax cuts would drive consumer spending and increased business investment, though they expressed uncertainty over the magnitude of the boost.
South Carolina customers could see refunds in a utility sale
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A proposed deal with Virginia-based Dominion Energy could mean $1.3 billion in refunds for customers of a troubled South Carolina utility who have been funding a failed nuclear reactor project. Dominion announced Wednesday it would make immediate $1,000 cash payments to SCANA Corp. customers within 90 days of closing its purchase of the company.
US factories closed out 2017 with a boom
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers expanded at a faster pace in December. A sharp increase in new orders provided much of the boost. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 59.7 last month from 58.2 in November. Any reading above 50 points to greater factory activity. Manufacturing has been expanding for the past 16 months.
Price tag on gene therapy for rare form of blindness: $850K
WASHINGTON (AP) — A first-of-its kind genetic treatment for blindness will cost $850,000 per patient, making it one of the most expensive medicines in the world. The drug, from Spark Therapeutics, was expected to be priced at $1 million or more, but the company announced its lower price Wednesday after hearing concerns from health insurers. The therapy, Luxturna, can improve the vision of patients with a rare form of inherited blindness.
France’s Macron vows to combat fake news on the internet
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is coming out strongly in support of press freedom and has announced a bill to combat the spread of fake news during election campaigns. In a speech to journalists Wednesday that laid out his agenda for 2018, Macron said press freedom is “the highest expression of freedom.” The French leader also warned that “press freedom is not only attacked by dictatorships, it is also battered in countries that are democracies” including ones in Europe.
Cold weather a boon for TV’s New Year’s celebrations
NEW YORK (AP) — ABC’s venerable ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ had its biggest audience since at least 1991, with viewers who stayed in to keep warm and were curious about how Ryan Seacrest would deal with frigid temperatures. Fox and CNN New Years’ coverage from Times Square also set new standards for viewership.
Revised suit faults Google for asking hires about prior pay
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A revised gender-pay lawsuit seeking class-action status against Google faults the search giant for asking new hires about their prior salary, a practice now banned in California. The suit also adds fourth complainant, a preschool teacher with a master’s degree. The four women allege they were underpaid by Google compared to their male counterparts. Google disputes the charges.
New EU rules aim to protect investors, strengthen markets
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — New rules to protect investors, improve market transparency and honesty and prevent another financial crisis have gone into effect in Europe. The regulations are more than a million paragraphs long, took six years to write and approve and had to be delayed by a year. And despite Wednesday’s start date, they still haven’t been passed into national law by more than half the European Union’s 28 member states.
Tesla falls short on Model 3, but overall sales rise
DETROIT (AP) — Electric car maker Tesla Inc. has again fallen short of production goals for its new Model 3 sedan. But the company exceeded its overall sales targets.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 17.25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,713.06. The Dow Jones industrial average added 98.67 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,922.68. The Nasdaq composite climbed 58.63 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,065.53. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 2.56 points, or 0.2 percent, 1,552.58. All four finished at record highs.
Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.26, or 2.1 percent, to $61.63 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, picked up $1.27, or 1.8 percent, to $67.84 a barrel in London.