Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 21, 2016

The Dow closes in on 20,000 milestone, Obama bars new oil drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic, and more

1

Dow makes another run at 20,000

The Dow Jones Industrial Average came within 13 points of reaching the 20,000 milestone on Tuesday, before edging back slightly but still closing at a record 19,948. The Dow gained 66 points or 0.3 percent on the day, continuing a post-election rally fueled by optimism over President-elect Donald Trump's promised tax cuts and stimulus spending on infrastructure. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite also hit the latest in a string of records. "The market is focused on the Trump agenda, which is tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and deregulation," said Jeff Zipper of Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank in Palm Beach, Florida. Overseas markets slipped on Wednesday, although U.S. index futures were little changed.

2

Obama bans oil drilling leases in parts of Arctic, Atlantic

President Obama on Tuesday withdrew large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from future oil and gas drilling, using a little-known 1953 law. The announcement came as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took similar action to protect a huge part of his nation's Arctic waters from drilling. Supporters called the move a bold and creative effort to protect the environment, but critics said it was abusive and would cost jobs, signaling coming court challenges. White House officials said the move can't be reversed — President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January — but a lawyer who served under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush disagreed. "Basically I say the power to withdraw entails the power to un-withdraw," said David Rivkin, an attorney for the Baker and Hostetler law firm.

3

Retailers agree to end on-call worker scheduling

Six major retailers, including Aeropostale, Carter's, and Walt Disney Co., will stop requiring hourly employees to check in to see if they are needed, or risk having scheduled shifts canceled on short notice, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday. Over the last year, attorneys general in New York and seven other states, including California and Illinois, have sent letters to retailers telling them that "unpredictable" schedules increase stress on workers and their families. The letters requested information on the companies' scheduling practices. About 50,000 workers will be affected by the companies' agreement to end on-call scheduling. Carter's said it signed on "in the spirit of cooperation."

4

VW recalls more diesel vehicles

Volkswagen has agreed to recall another 83,000 polluting diesel vehicles over its scandal over cheating on diesel emissions tests, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday. The deal affects 63,000 vehicles from the 2013 to 2016 model years, and 20,000 from 2009 to 2012. VW said it would recall the 2013 to 2016 vehicles, and have the option of buying back, modifying, or terminating the leases of the 2009 to 2012 vehicles. The company this fall struck a nearly $15 billion deal with regulators regarding nearly half a million 2-liter diesel cars. The new agreement affects larger vehicles, including Audi and Porsche crossovers, and is expected to cost VW about $1 billion.

5

Relatives of Orlando massacre victims sue Twitter, Google, and Facebook

The families of three men killed in the June attack at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub filed a lawsuit against Twitter, Google, and Facebook, saying the companies provided "material support" to gunman Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before police fatally shot him. The lawsuit was filed in Detroit federal court on Monday by relatives of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes, and Juan Ramon Guerrero, who were among the 49 people killed in the attack. The suit said the tech giants have given ISIS terrorists accounts they have used to "spread extremist propaganda" and recruit self-radicalized extremists like Mateen. Facebook said it is doing its best to quickly remove any content supporting terrorism.

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