The daily business briefing: December 19, 2016
Stock futures rise ahead of Yellen speech, Rogue One leads box office with a blockbuster debut, and more
Stocks poised to start week up ahead of Yellen speech
U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Monday as investors awaited what is expected to be Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's last speech before the Christmas break. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 36 points, or 0.2 percent, setting up the benchmark index for another run at the 20,000 mark. S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite index futures made similar gains. The indexes have posted a string of records in a post-election rally.
Rogue One leads box office with $155 million haul
Walt Disney Co.'s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dominated the box office in its debut weekend, making an estimated $155 million in the U.S. and Canada. The take amounted to the second biggest December opening ever, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year. That film smashed a host of records, bringing in $248 million domestically in its first weekend. Rogue One, Disney's first spinoff since it bought Lucasfilm in 2012, was never expected to best The Force Awakens. The new movie tells the story of a band of rebel fighters in the lead up to the events involving central characters Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo in the original 1977 Star Wars.
Report: Trump's secretary of state nominee was a director of U.S.-Russian oil firm
President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was a director of Exxon's Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, from its founding in 1998 until 2006, The Guardian reported Sunday, citing documents leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The company is one of 67 registered by ExxonMobil in the Bahamas, a country with laws that favor corporate secrecy and a corporate tax rate of zero. Tillerson's name, RW Tillerson, is listed next to other officers from Houston, Moscow, and the far-eastern Russian island of Sakhalin. Tillerson's role in the Russian-U.S. oil company doesn't break any laws, but it highlights his close ties to Russia's power elite, including President Vladimir Putin.
Oil prices rise on hope output cuts will reduce glut
Oil prices edged up to their highest levels since July 2014 early Monday as investors bet that a deal by major producers to cut supply will reduce a global glut in 2017. After months of speculation and negotiations, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and leading non-OPEC producers agreed earlier this month to a coordinated output reduction, hoping to bring up sagging prices. A planned production boost in Libya, which is exempt from the OPEC cuts, stalled, helping to push up prices.
Airbus prepares to deliver jets to Iran under new deal
Iran is expected to receive its first jets from Airbus within weeks under a newly finalized deal with Airbus, a senior Iranian official said Monday. Iran is rushing to buy or lease 200 planes to upgrade IranAir's fleet now that most international sanctions have been lifted under a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program. The Airbus deal once was valued at as much as $27 billion, but the informal agreement was cut back, excluding 12 of the company's new A380s, reducing its value significantly. Airbus rival Boeing recently finalized a deal to sell 80 jets to Iran.