Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 14, 2016

Markets brace for interest rate hike, tech leaders gather in New York to meet with Trump, and more

1

Markets await Fed interest rate hike

With markets essentially certain the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed in on the 20,000 level as it set its seventh straight daily record and its 15th in the ongoing post-election rally, closing Tuesday at 19,911. The benchmark U.S. stock index has gained more than 10 percent since the Nov. 8 election as investors anticipate business-friendly policies and stimulus spending by President-elect Donald Trump. Fed policy makers will give their first economic forecast since the vote as they conclude their two-day meeting Wednesday afternoon. Stocks stalled early Wednesday as markets braced for the Fed to raise its target interest-rate range of 0.5 to 0.75 percent, a quarter point higher than the Fed set with its last rate increase a year ago.

2

Trump meets with top tech leaders

Donald Trump.

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump is meeting with the nation's top technology executives Wednesday for a discussion expected to focus on jobs. Those attending the meeting at Trump Tower in New York City include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Tesla's Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Larry Page and Eric E. Schmidt of Google parent Alphabet, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, as well as several other tech leaders. No set agenda has been announced, but Trump was critical of some Silicon Valley business practices during his campaign, including Apple's making of phones in China. The executives are expected to ask how Trump's planned immigration crackdown will affect policies on highly skilled tech workers.

3

Regulators reject Wells Fargo 'living will' again

Federal regulators ruled on Tuesday — for the second time in a year — that Wells Fargo & Co. had failed a key regulatory test designed after the 2008 financial crisis to reduce the danger that large banks would collapse. Regulators first rejected Wells Fargo's "living will," which spells out disaster preparedness plans, in April, along with those of four other big banks. All five banks resubmitted their plans, and all passed except Wells Fargo. Due to the failure, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will bar Wells Fargo from establishing new international units or acquiring a non-bank subsidiary, although the penalties can be lifted if Wells Fargo submits a satisfactory plan by March 31.

4

Monsanto shareholders sign off on Bayer takeover bid

Monsanto shareholders on Tuesday approved Bayer's $57 billion takeover offer, a key step forward for the effort to combine the two global agricultural powerhouses. The deal still faces significant hurdles, however, as getting regulators' approval is not expected to be so easy. Critics say merging Monsanto, a seeds and pesticides giant, with Bayer, the German medicine and farm-chemical maker, would reduce competition and drive up prices for farmers and other customers.

5

Trump picks ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry as energy secretary

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday morning named former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his energy secretary. If confirmed, Perry would run a department whose name he famously forgot while listing agencies he planned to eliminate as president during his 2012 bid for the White House. On Tuesday, Trump reportedly offered the interior secretary job to Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), which would put the freshman congressman in charge of the department that oversees federal lands. Earlier in the day, Trump announced his selection of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has deep ties to Russia that worry lawmakers from both parties, to be his secretary of state.

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