The daily business briefing: February 10, 2017
U.S. stocks hit records after Trump promises tax announcement, construction resumes on Dakota Access Pipeline, and more
Stocks hit record highs as Trump promises tax announcement
The three main U.S. stock indexes hit all-time highs on Thursday after President Trump promised a major announcement on taxes in coming weeks. "Lowering the overall tax burden on American business is big league," Trump said, without giving any hints of the announcement's specifics. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 118 points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 20,172. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both rose by 0.58 percent. U.S. stock futures made further gains early Friday, as did major indexes in Asia and Europe.
Construction resumes on Dakota Access Pipeline
The company building the Dakota Access Pipeline resumed construction on Thursday after the Trump administration reversed former President Barack Obama's decision to halt the project. Energy Transfer Partners began drilling under a North Dakota lake even though the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has led opposition to the project, has filed a legal challenge. The tribe says the final 1,100-foot stretch of the 1,170-mile, $3.8 billion oil pipeline, which is to pass under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, would threaten the local water supply and sacred Native American sites.
Trump expresses interest in modernizing, even privatizing, air traffic control
President Trump told airline and airport executives on Thursday that he was interested in a proposal to remove the U.S. air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration's control, and put it under a private nonprofit corporation. Trump expressed a more intense desire in modernizing the system, which Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said would be the best way to help airlines. "I hear we're spending billions and billions of dollars," Trump said. "It's a system that's totally out of whack."
Senate confirms Rep. Tom Price as Health and Human Services secretary
A bitterly divided Senate on Friday confirmed Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as secretary of Health and Human Services in a 52-47 vote. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and seven-term congressman, is a vocal opponent of ObamaCare, and he will now be expected to lead the effort to find a replacement for it. Democrats criticized Price for trading health care stocks while considering legislation affecting the companies, and said his policies would deprive many Americans of health insurance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Price "knows more about health care policy than just about anyone," and will help "bring stability to health care markets that ObamaCare has harmed."
Oil prices rise as OPEC reports 90 percent compliance on output cuts
Oil prices surged by 1.3 percent on Thursday, with U.S. light crude climbing 66 cents to $53 a barrel, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its highest compliance rate for an agreement to cut production. OPEC said members implemented 90 percent of promised output cuts in January, the first month of an agreement aiming to boost prices after months of a global surplus. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest producer, helped improve the compliance rate by reducing production by more than it promised.