The daily business briefing: March 3, 2017
Snap shares soar in their market debut, the EPA reverses Obama administration call for methane emissions data, and more
Snap shares rise by 44 percent on first day of trading
Snap stock soared in its first day of trading on Thursday, gaining 44 percent over its initial public offering price of $17 a share, which was already higher than expected. The stock closed at $24.48 after rising as high as $26.05 during the day. Snap, the parent company of popular messaging app Snapchat, is the biggest tech company to go public since Facebook in 2012, and the biggest tech IPO globally since Alibaba in 2014. The closing price put Snap's value near $35 billion, although one analyst said the buzz drove up the price and made the stock "significantly overvalued."
EPA reverses Obama administration call for data on methane emissions
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it was withdrawing the Obama administration's request that oil and gas well operators provide information on their equipment and methane emissions. The Obama administration only started the effort to gather more information about methane, which is blamed for a quarter of global warming, two days before Trump's election. The EPA said it received a letter from attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states saying the request imposed "burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous." EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said reversing the request "will reduce burdens on businesses" while the EPA reviews whether it needs more information from the industry. The White House is proposing deep cuts to the EPA budget that would reduce its staff by one-fifth.
Caterpillar shares drop after investigators search 3 Illinois facilities
Federal authorities on Thursday raided three Caterpillar facilities in Illinois, although they did not immediately disclose the purpose of the searches. Caterpillar released a statement saying the law enforcement officials might have been looking for material related to an Internal Revenue Service investigation of a Swiss subsidiary's profits. The news prompted a sell-off of Caterpillar's stock, which fell by 4.3 percent on Thursday.
Samsung chief's bribery trial to start next week
A Seoul court will start Samsung acting chief Lee Jae-yong's bribery and embezzlement trial next Thursday, legal experts in South Korea said Friday. Lee was indicted Tuesday on charges connected to the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Among other charges, Lee is accused of pledging $37 million in payments to Choi Soon-sil, the president's friend at the center of the scandal. Special prosecutor Park Young-soo said his team is "preparing hard" for what "could be the trial of the century that the entire world will be watching."
Investors await Yellen speech for signs of Fed plans
U.S. stock futures pointed to a cautious start to trading on Friday as investors awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in Chicago. Stocks surged this week after two other Fed policy makers said improving jobs and inflation data indicated the economy was improving enough to justify raising interest rates soon. Investors will examine Yellen's remarks closely, looking for hints on whether that means the Fed could bump up its key short-term interest rate at its March 14-15 meeting. The federal jobs report, another key indicator of the economy's strength, normally is released on the first Friday of the month, but the February report will come out March 10, a week late, due to the way the days fell in the short month.