The daily business briefing: February 1, 2017
U.S. stocks seek footing as rally cools over Trump concerns, Trump calls for drug companies to lower prices, and more
U.S. stocks regroup after retreating further from 20,000 level
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday dropped further below the 20,000 threshold it reached for the first time last week, as U.S. stocks, which surged after the election, continued to lose momentum as uncertainty bubbled up over President Trump's next moves. The Dow fell by 107 points, or 0.5 percent, to 19,864. The S&P 500 index dropped by 2 points, or 0.1 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite edged up by 1 point, or 0.02 percent. Stock futures bounced back early Wednesday, pointing to a rise at the opening bell, led by gains for tech giants after Apple reported earnings that beat expectations.
Trump promises faster drug approval but calls for lower prices
President Trump said Tuesday in a White House meeting with pharmaceutical executives that he would speed up drug approvals and called for bringing down drug prices. "For Medicare, for Medicaid, we have to get the prices way down," Trump said. "We're also gonna be streamlining the process so that from your standpoint, when you have a drug, you can actually get it approved if it works instead of waiting for many, many years." Trump's comments marked the latest in a series of pushes to help businesses by cutting federal regulations.
Trump visit to Harley-Davidson factory reportedly canceled over protest fear
President Trump canceled a scheduled visit to the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee due to the motorcycle maker's fear of protests over his immigration and refugee ban, an administration official told CNN Tuesday. Trump had planned to sign executive orders related to American manufacturing during the scheduled Thursday visit, which had not been announced publicly. A White House spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that Trump is not expected to go to Milwaukee on Thursday. Harley-Davidson released a statement saying there was never a visit planned this week to any of its facilities.
Fed expected to hold rates steady
Federal Reserve policy makers are expected to leave interest rates steady Wednesday when they conclude their first two-day meeting since President Trump took office. The Fed reportedly is waiting for clarity over Trump's economic policies and their potential impact. Trump has vowed to cut taxes and regulations, and ramp up spending on infrastructure, but he also has threatened border taxes, raising fear of possible trade wars. Fed Chair Janet Yellen last week said the economy is near full employment, and warned of a "nasty" inflation surprise if the Fed raises interest rates too slowly. Still, many analysts don't expect the Fed to raise rates again for several months due to rising uncertainty.
VW, Robert Bosch settle claims in diesel scandal
Volkswagen said Wednesday that it had reached an agreement to pay $1.2 billion to owners of Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen cars with three-liter motors to settle court cases stemming from its diesel-emissions cheating scandal. A $15 billion settlement covers cars with two-liter motors. Separately, German auto electronics supplier Robert Bosch said on Wednesday that it would pay $327.5 million to settle claims that it helped VW develop the software the automaker used to cheat on U.S. emissions tests. Owners of two-liter VW and Audi vehicles in the U.S. will get $200 per car under the agreement, while owners of three-liter vehicles, such as the Porsche Cayenne SUV, will get $1,500.