The daily business briefing: October 31, 2016

Markets adjust to shifting U.S. election news, GE strikes deal to merge oil business with Baker Hughes, and more

The General Electric headquarters
(Image credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Markets digest changing U.S. election news

U.S. stock futures held steady ahead of the start of trading Monday but investors shunned risky assets overseas as polls showed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's lead over her Republican rival, Donald Trump, narrowing slightly as the Nov. 8 presidential election nears. Hillary Clinton appeared to be holding her ground with her fellow Democrats despite potential fallout from renewed scrutiny by FBI agents looking to review emails that could be linked to the private email server she used as secretary of state. The Mexican peso dropped as some new polls showed slight gains by Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border and renegotiate free trade agreements with Mexico and other countries, but began clawing back some of its losses on Monday.

Bloomberg Reuters

2. GE to merge its oil and gas operations with Baker Hughes

General Electric said Monday that it would combine its oil and gas operations with No. 3 oilfield services provider Baker Hughes, positioning GE to benefit from an oil recovery. Under the merger, GE will own 62.5 percent of the company and Baker Hughes shareholders will own the rest. The publicly traded company will have combined revenue of $32 billion. A planned merger between Baker Hughes and Halliburton fell through earlier in the year due to opposition from regulators.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

CNBC The Wall Street Journal

3. Investors cautious ahead of this week's Fed meeting

Many investors are entering the week cautiously ahead of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday's unexpectedly strong report from the Commerce Department saying that the economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.9 percent in the third quarter, the fastest in two years, is expected to strengthen arguments for raising interest rates soon, but most analysts still think Fed policy makers will wait until December. "While we expect the FOMC to 'talk tough' about the economy, inflation, and monetary policy, there is very little expectation of the Fed taking action with less than a week to go before the presidential election," said Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James.

Fox Business MarketWatch

4. Oil prices slip on doubts over OPEC deal

Oil prices edged down by 0.7 percent early Monday, extending recent declines after non-OPEC producers declined to definitively commit to a proposed deal to limit oil output to curb a global glut and boost prices. The move by non-OPEC oil producers such as Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Oman, and Russia, whose representatives met for consultations in Vienna on Saturday, suggested that they wanted members of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries, to settle their differences first. OPEC member Iran, for example, says it wants to be allowed to keep boosting output to return to levels it maintained before the start of recently lifted sanctions.


5. Euro zone reports slow growth on target with expectations

The euro zone continued to grow at a modest rate in the third quarter, expanding by just 0.3 percent in the last three months, the European statistical office, Eurostat, reported Monday. The 19-member trading bloc grew by 1.6 percent in the past year. The quarterly growth met the expectations of economists polled by Reuters. Inflation also rose by 0.5 percent, up from the previous quarter's 0.4 percent but short of the expected 0.6 percent. The data supported numbers reported by individual member nations showing that "the pace of growth remains slow," Jennifer McKeown, chief European economist at Capital Economics, said.


Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.