Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 22, 2016

Boeing's CEO promises to cut Air Force One costs, existing home sales hit a 10-year high, and more

1

Boeing CEO vows to cut Air Force One costs

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg left a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday promising that his company would build the new Air Force One for less than $4 billion following criticism from Trump over the cost. "We're going to get it done for less than that, and we're committed to working together to make sure that happens," Muilenburg said as he left Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump said he was "looking to cut a tremendous amount of money off the price" of the presidential jet as well as Lockheed Martin's new F-35 fighter jet. Lockheed's Marillyn Hewson left a meeting with Trump without commenting, and Trump did not say whether he had won any concessions from her.

2

Existing home sales rise to highest level since early 2007

Sales of existing U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in November to their highest level in nearly 10 years, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. In the third straight increase, existing home sales rose by 0.7 percent from a downwardly revised annual pace of 5.57 million in October. "The strength in home sales, if it holds, will provide a big boost for consumer spending in 2017 and makes us more confident about our outlook for stronger growth next year," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York. A possible wrinkle is a rise in mortgage rates, with fixed 30-year home loan rates rising about 60 basis points to an average 4.16 percent since the November election.

3

Trump picks China critic to head new trade council

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Peter Navarro, a staunch China trade critic and key trade-policy adviser during his campaign, to head a new White House trade council. Navarro, a University of California-Irvine economics and public policy professor, helped Trump craft trade policies that are "defensive" but "not protectionist," the transition office said. Navarro is the author of several books, and created a documentary called DEATH BY CHINA: How America Lost Its Manufacturing Base. Trump also named activist investor Carl Icahn as an adviser on regulatory issues.

4

Libyan output push weighs on oil prices

Oil futures dropped by about 1.7 percent on Wednesday after Libya said it planned to increase production in the next few months. A rise in U.S. crude inventories last week also weighed on prices, which had risen recently on hope that an output-cut deal between OPEC and non-OPEC nations would help to ease a global glut. "The big question is what will OPEC do about the Libyan increase. With Libya excluded from the production cut agreement, I anticipate the Saudis will unilaterally balance the Libyan crude," said James Williams, president of energy consultant WTRG Economics in Arkansas.

5

Uber pulls self-driving cars off San Francisco roads

Uber on Wednesday pulled its self-driving cars off of California roads after state regulators said they were revoking the vehicles' registrations. The move came a week after Uber launched service with the vehicles in San Francisco. Regulators say Uber's cars need the same special permit that 20 other companies testing self-driving technology have acquired. Uber says it shouldn't have to get a permit because its technology does not let the cars continuously operate on their own, even though it bills them as self-driving.

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