Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 12, 2016

Oil prices soar after producers agree to cuts, Boeing seals deal to sell jets to Iran, and more

1

Crude prices jump as producers agree to cut output

Oil prices surged to an 18-month high on Monday after leading oil producers agreed to follow the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' lead and cut production to ease a global glut that has dragged down prices. Not only did key non-OPEC countries, including Russia, agree to the cuts, but leading producer Saudi Arabia suggested it might slash output more than it promised last week. OPEC's deal calls for reducing output by about 3 percent. Europe's benchmark Brent crude futures jumped by more than 5 percent, passing $57 a barrel for the first time since July 2015. The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, rose above $54 a barrel.

2

Boeing seals deal to sell planes to Iran

Boeing announced Sunday that it had clinched a $16.6 billion deal to sell 80 jetliners to Iran. This would be the first major agreement between a U.S. company and the Islamic Republic since the U.S. lifted sanctions under an accord aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program. In announcing the agreement with Tehran, Boeing echoed one of President-elect Donald Trump's top priorities by promising that the sale would "support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs." Companies are unsure how the Trump administration will deal with Iran.

3

Trump says human impact on climate still uncertain

President-elect Donald Trump said on Fox News Sunday that "nobody really knows" whether human-caused climate change is really happening. He said he was considering whether the U.S. should withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Trump said he was "very open-minded" on climate change but that he believed President Obama's policies on cutting pollution, which scientists say causes the planet to warm, might be hurting America's global competitiveness. 2016 is expected to be the hottest year on record, and the hottest 10 years recorded have occurred since 1998. "Look, I'm somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows," Trump said. "It's not something that's so hard and fast. I do know this: Other countries are eating our lunch."

4

Stocks start week mixed ahead of Fed meeting

Global stocks started the week mixed on Monday as investors brace for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates. Fed policy makers meet on Thursday, and are expected to resume gradual increases with their second hike in a decade. The Fed has kept rates historically low, near zero, since the 2008 global crisis to stimulate the economy, but recent data showing improvement in the jobs market and inflation have suggested the economy is strong enough for rates to rise. There is one wild card: Some analysts say the Fed might wait to see how President-elect Donald Trump's victory, and his promised tax cuts and higher spending, play out before making its move.

5

Venezuela seizes company's toys it says are overpriced

The Venezuelan government over the weekend seized more than four million toys from a company regulators accused of hoarding the items and hiking prices ahead of Christmas. Authorities collected toys from several warehouses owned by the company, Kreisel. Venezuela's consumer protection agency, Sundde, said Kreisel was reselling stockpiled toys at up to a 50,000 percent margin. The government said it would sell the toys at sharp discounts or distribute them to the poor. "Boys and girls of the country will have a happy Christmas," said William Contreras, Venezuela's national superintendent for the defense of socioeconomic rights. "We will guarantee a child" gets a present.

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