The daily business briefing: February 16, 2017
Labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdraws, Anthem sues Cigna for scrapping $54 billion merger, and more
Trump labor nominee Andrew Puzder drops out
President Trump's labor secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew from consideration on Wednesday as growing resistance from some Republicans threatened to sink his confirmation. Some Republicans opposed him due to his past employment of an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper, while Democrats criticized him for several reasons, including his opposition to minimum-wage increases and more generous overtime benefits. Puzder's withdrawal added to the turmoil already dogging the Trump administration following the resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Anthem sues Cigna for ending their $54 billion merger
Anthem on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to block Cigna from scrapping the two health insurers' proposed $54 billion merger. Cigna said it was unilaterally ending the deal after federal antitrust regulators rejected it, saying the deal would have hurt competition. The merger would have created the nation's largest health insurer. Rivals Aetna and Humana had also sought to join forces, but that merger also was rejected by regulators.
South Carolina Boeing workers reject union
Thousands of Boeing Co. employees in South Carolina on Wednesday voted against being represented by the International Association of Machinists union, a major defeat for organized labor in an early test under President Trump's pro-business administration. Seventy-four percent of the 3,000 Boeing workers eligible to cast ballots voted against union representation. South Carolina is one of the nation's least unionized states, and many analysts say Boeing put its second Dreamliner aircraft assembly line in the state to minimize the leverage the machinists' union would have over the company.
Trump administration proposes tightening ObamaCare enrollment process
The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed changes to ObamaCare that would make it harder for Americans to move in and out of insurance plans by tightening enrollment processes and helping insurers to collect unpaid premiums. The changes could result in higher out-of-pocket costs for policy holders, but insurers welcomed the new rules issued by a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. President Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, a key part of former President Barack Obama's legacy.
Stock rally takes a breather after another record day
U.S. stock futures dipped early Thursday, pointing to a lower open after U.S. stock indexes hit fresh records on Wednesday. With the economic outlook brightening, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated in her second day of testimony before Congress that the central bank might raise rates again as soon as March. The S&P 500's latest record came after the index closed up for the seventh straight session for the first time since September 2013. President Trump celebrated the positive financial news by tweeting, "Stock market hits new high with longest winning streak in decades. Great level of confidence and optimism — even before tax plan rollout!"