Business Highlights

November 3, 2017


Tax bill becomes less-generous proposal

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Friday quietly made changes to their far-reaching tax overhaul: Now its tax cuts would be less generous for many Americans. A day after the GOP unveiled its plan promising middle-class relief, the House’s top tax-writer, Rep. Kevin Brady, released a revised version of the bill that would impose a new, lower-inflation “chained CPI” adjustment for tax brackets immediately instead of in 2023. That means more income would be taxed at higher rates over time — and less generous tax cuts for individuals and families.


Why pay raises are elusive even with US unemployment so low

WASHINGTON (AP) — With unemployment at a 17-year low and businesses complaining that they can’t fill jobs, you might expect pay to be rising sharply to attract and retain workers. It’s not. The October jobs report showed that pay gains remain sluggish, and the explanations include weak worker productivity and a still-low proportion of adults with jobs. These are long-running trends that still bedevil the economy despite its steady improvement.


Trump seeks end to health care penalty in House GOP tax bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is pressuring Republicans to repeal a health care law penalty in their tax rewrite. It’s a step the House’s top tax writer indicates is politically problematic. Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, says the president had spoken to him twice by phone and once in person, imploring him to scrap the so-called individual mandate that requires Americans to obtain health insurance or face a penalty.


Trump-free Twitter: Outage highlights service’s importance

President Donald Trump’s Twitter account disappeared for just 11 minutes this week, far shorter than past outages that have affected users of the social media service. But as Trump’s critics cheered his brief moment of forced silence and Twitter struggled to explain who was responsible for deactivating his account, the outage underscored how important Twitter has been to his presidency — and how easy it is to pull the plug.


GOP tax plan picks winners and losers in energy sector

WASHINGTON (AP) — Among the losers in the newly released House GOP tax bill are the electric car industry and producers of clean energy like wind power. Tax breaks for oil and gas production and the nuclear power industry would be preserved. The bill’s release alarmed automobile manufacturers such as stock of electric car maker Tesla, and environmentalists are howling over the loss of tax credits for renewable energy production.


Rising tech stocks send S&P 500 to record, 8th weekly gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Another spurt higher for Apple and other technology stocks helped the Standard & Poor’s 500 set a new record on Friday, and the index closed out an eighth straight week of gains. It was another calm day for markets broadly after a report showed that the U.S. job market strengthened last month, though not by as much as expected. Bond yields held steady, stock markets around the world rose modestly and the price of oil climbed to its highest level in more than two years.


Insurance loss from disasters cuts profits at Buffett’s firm

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said Friday that its third-quarter profit fell 43 percent because of a $1.4 billion insurance underwriting loss from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and earthquakes in Mexico. The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate owns Geico and several other insurers, including General Reinsurance. Berkshire said it earned $4.07 billion, or about $1.65 per Class B share. That’s down from $7.2 billion, or $2.92 per Class B share.


EPA chief set to meet privately with chemical industry execs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s top environmental regulator is set to speak privately to chemical industry executives next week during a conference at a luxury oceanfront golf resort. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is listed as the featured speaker at a board meeting of the American Chemistry Council, which has lobbied against stricter regulations for chemical manufacturers.


Sears to close another 63 stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Sears Holdings Corp. says it will be closing another 63 stores as the ailing retailer tries to turn around its business. The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company, struggling to keep up with its rivals, said it will shutter 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores in late January.


The S&P 500 rose 7.99 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,587.84. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,539.19, and the Nasdaq composite climbed 49.49 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,764.44. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 1.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,494.91.

Benchmark U.S. crude jumped $1.10 to $55.64 per barrel, its highest settlement price since July 2015. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.45 to $62.07. Natural gas rose 5 cents to $2.98 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil gained 3 cents to $1.89 per gallon and wholesale gasoline climbed 2 cents to $1.79 per gallon.

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