Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 21, 2017

The euro rises as centrist Macron outshines far-right Le Pen in French debate, philanthropist David Rockefeller dies, and more 

1

Euro rises as centrist Macron boosts chances in French presidential debate

French bonds rallied and the euro rose to a six-week high on Tuesday after a strong performance by centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron raised expectations that he would defeat far-right rival Marine Le Pen in a two-round election scheduled for late April and early May. France's turbulent campaign has been a focus of concern, as some investors have braced for the possibility that a populist surge similar to the one that fueled last year's Brexit vote in the U.K. and President Trump's victory in the U.S. would spell victory for Le Pen, who wants to curb immigration, take France out of the euro, and hold a referendum on leaving the European Union.

2

Philanthropist David Rockefeller dies at 101

Billionaire banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller died Monday at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York. He was 101. Rockefeller was the world's oldest billionaire, and the last surviving grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. He served as Chase Manhattan's president, chairman, and CEO over 35 years at the company, expanding the bank's international presence and having a hand in U.S. foreign policy and financial affairs. He also won a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for his philanthropy, and gave more than $900 million over his lifetime to numerous causes, including New York's Museum of Modern Art and his alma mater, Harvard University.

3

U.K. announces date for launch of Brexit process

Britain's European Union ambassador, Tim Barrow, notified European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday that the British government would start the process of exiting the EU on March 29. On that day, the U.K. will invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which spells out how a member nation can leave the 28-nation trading bloc. "We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation," Brexit Secretary David Davis said. "The government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the U.K. and indeed for all of Europe, a new, positive partnership between the U.K. and our friends and allies in the European Union."

4

Global shares rise as oil prices edge higher

Global stocks mostly gained early Tuesday as oil prices rose on talk that OPEC might extend its output cuts to further combat a global glut. U.S. stock futures also edged up, pointing to a slightly higher open in what could offset modest Monday losses. S&P 500 futures gained 0.2 percent, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose by 0.1 percent, and Nasdaq-100 futures climbed by 0.2 percent. Some analysts have started warning that the extended post-election rally is near its end, while others see more records to come.

5

Trump drops on Forbes' list of world's wealthiest people

President Trump has dropped 220 spots on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires in the year since he ran for, and won, the White House. The list, published Monday, put the net worth of the nation's first billionaire president at $3.5 billion, a drop of $1 billion since the release of last year's rankings. Trump is now tied with 19 others as the world's 544th richest person. Forbes notes that Trump's fortune was affected by some one-time expenses, such as the $66 million he put into his presidential campaign and the $25 million he had to fork over to settle the Trump University lawsuit. It was his core real estate business that had the biggest impact, however. "Forty percent of Donald Trump's fortune is tied up in Trump Tower and eight buildings within one mile of it," Forbes said, and, "Lately, the neighborhood has been struggling (relatively speaking)."

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