Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 20, 2017

Trump heads into inauguration promising new trade deals, regulators clear Tesla in fatal "Autopilot" crash, and more

1

Trump team says new president will swiftly revamp trade deals

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take the oath of office on Friday, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer says the new president will instruct trade officials to start revamping major trade deals without waiting for Congress to act. Spicer said Trump would get started on making good on his promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and give notice that he will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. In a November video, Trump vowed to pull out of the still unratified TPP, calling it "a potential disaster for our country."

2

Tesla cleared in fatal 'Autopilot' crash

U.S. regulators on Thursday cleared Tesla Motors in connection with the death of a driver who collided with a truck while using his Tesla Model S sedan's "Autopilot" system. Regulators said they found no evidence of defects in the Tesla vehicle. Tesla CEO Elon Musk praised the National Highway Safety Administration decision not to order a recall, saying that the late driver, former Navy SEAL Joshua Brown, was the one primarily responsible for operating the vehicle.

3

Trump treasury nominee faces tough confirmation hearing

President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees continued to face sharp questioning on Thursday. Democrats grilled Steven Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker Trump picked to lead the Treasury Department, for foreclosing on homes in California and initially failing to disclose $95 million in real estate assets. Former Texas governor Rick Perry, nominated for energy secretary, said during his confirmation hearing that he regretted once calling for eliminating the department now that he has been briefed on its "vital functions." He also reversed course and said he believed humans were contributing to climate change, a notion he called a "contrived, phony mess" in a 2010 book.

4

Yellen says Fed not 'behind the curve' with gradual rate hikes

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Thursday reaffirmed the argument for gradually raising interest rates. She said the U.S. central bank had not "fallen behind the curve" as it tries to contain inflation while boosting the economy but not letting it get overheated. "I consider it prudent to adjust the stance of monetary policy gradually over time," she said Thursday at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in California. It was Yellen's second speech in the week leading up to President-elect Donald Trump's Friday inauguration. One wild card as the Fed plots its next move is how Trump's promised tax and regulation cuts, infrastructure spending, and other policies affect the economy.

5

China growth narrowly exceeds expectations, signaling stabilization

China's economy grew by 6.8 percent year-to-year in the fourth quarter, narrowly beating expectations of 6.7 percent growth. China's gross domestic product met expectations for 2016 overall, growing by 6.7 percent. The data signaled that growth has stabilized in the world's second largest economy. The figures amounted to China's slowest rate of expansion in 26 years, but it kept up with the pace necessary to meet Beijing's target of doubling its GDP from 2010 levels by 2020.

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