Business Highlights

January 24, 2018


Dollar tumbles after US treasury chief welcomes weaker value

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The U.S. treasury chief has welcomed a weaker value in the dollar, breaking with a past commitment by the U.S. government to back a strong dollar. The comments led to a sharp drop the currency Wednesday. During his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Steven Mnuchin said that: “Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.”


Trump heads to Swiss forum to push economic policies

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is ready to play salesman as he heads to an economic summit in the Swiss Alps, making the case that his “America First” agenda can go hand-in-hand with global cooperation. Trump is set to arrive at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday to declare that the United States is open for business. But the protectionist-leaning president’s attendance at an annual gathering for free-trade-loving political and business elites has raised eyebrows.


In Davos, European leaders try to counterbalance Trump views

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — European leaders have come to the defense of free trade and global cooperation, against any U.S. lurch toward protectionism as top economic officials in the Trump administration made the case for a series of tariffs, a day ahead of the much-ballyhooed arrival of the president to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.


Toys R Us cites holiday “missteps,” says 182 stores to close

NEW YORK (AP) — Toys R Us plans to close up to 182 stores, or about 20 percent of its U.S. locations. The company that once dominated toy sales in the U.S. has been operating under bankruptcy protection since last fall. Loyal fans lamented the closing of their hometown stores. Some said they remembered shopping there as kids and liked doing so with their own children.


Powell taking over as Fed chairman at time of economic calm

WASHINGTON (AP) — It would seem like a pretty good time to take over as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Jerome Powell has won Senate confirmation to head the U.S. central bank, inheriting an economy on a roll, a booming stock market and unemployment at a 17-year low. He will succeed Janet Yellen, the first woman to serve as Fed chairman, when her term ends on Feb. 3. But while the immediate horizon appears clear, Powell faces the risk the economy could reverse course in the coming months or years.


GE slides to loss in 4Q, faces SEC probe over $15B charge

BOSTON (AP) — General Electric is being investigated by federal regulators for a $15 billion hit taken to cover miscalculations made within an insurance unit. The company revealed last week that it would take a $6.2 billion charge in its fourth quarter after a subsidiary, North American Life & Health, underestimated how much it would cost to pay for the care of people who lived longer than projected.


Starbucks gives workers raises, stock grants due to tax law

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks is giving its U.S. workers pay raises and stock grants this year, citing recent tax reform. The coffee chain says all employees will soon be able to earn paid sick time off, and the company’s parental leave benefits will include all non-birth parents. Starbucks Corp. says the changes affect about 150,000 full-time, part-time, hourly and salaried employees, most of whom work as baristas or shop managers.


Federal safety board is investigating Tesla freeway crash

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board says it’s investigating the crash of a Tesla Model S electric car that may have been operating under its semi-autonomous “Autopilot” system. The car hit the back of a firetruck on Interstate 405 Monday in Culver City, California, near Los Angeles.


EU fines Qualcomm $1.23B for paying Apple to use its chips

BRUSSELS (AP) — European regulators fined Qualcomm $1.23 billion after concluding the U.S. mobile chipmaker bribed Apple to stifle competition by using its products exclusively in iPhones and iPads. The penalty announced Wednesday marks the latest blemish on Qualcomm, whose business tactics have been portrayed as illegal abuses of power in lawsuits filed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Apple. Qualcomm says it will appeal the EU’s decision.


Technology stocks sink, pulling indexes lower; dollar falls

NEW YORK (AP) —Stocks wobbled and finished mostly lower, dragged down by a slide in technology companies. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discussed a more nationalist trade policy, with uncertain effects for the market. Chipmakers, which have far outpaced the market over the past year, fell after Texas Instruments gave a disappointing forecast. The dollar sagged after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the currency’s decline is good for U.S. exporters. Gold and silver rose. Bond yields climbed.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 1.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,837.54. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 41.31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,252.12. The Nasdaq composite fell 45.23 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,415.06. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks skidded 11.10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,599.61.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.14, or 1.8 percent, to $65.61 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 57 cents to $70.53 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.92 a gallon. Heating oil picked up 2 cents to $2.11 a gallon. Natural gas gained 7 cents to $3.51 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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