Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 22, 2017

Trump's labor secretary nominee heads into his confirmation hearing, Sears struggles, and more

1

Labor nominee Alexander Acosta heads into confirmation hearing

Labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta heads into his confirmation hearing on Wednesday with support from Big Labor, suggesting a relatively smooth path ahead. Acosta was President Trump's second choice for the job, stepping in after fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder dropped out. Acosta is likely to face tough questions over a plea deal he approved as U.S. attorney for a billionaire in a child sex case, but Republican senators said his three previous confirmations for federal positions suggest he won't face too much opposition. In prepared remarks, Acosta, who will be the first Hispanic member of Trump's Cabinet if confirmed, vowed to work with Congress to help Americans get the training they need to get good, safe jobs.

2

Concerns over Trump economic plans weigh on stocks

U.S. stocks on Tuesday suffered their steepest one-day decline since Election Day as investors grew concerned about the prospects of President Trump's promised tax cuts. Trump's pro-business agenda helped launch U.S. indexes to a string of records in recent months. That optimism is taking a hit this week due to heavy opposition ahead of a key vote on House Republican leaders' health plan, which includes some tax cuts. The S&P 500 dropped by 2.5 percent, its biggest drop since June. Global stocks declined early Wednesday, and U.S. stock futures edged down, suggesting a lower open as investor worries continue.

3

Retailer files unfairness lawsuit against Ivanka Trump's brand

An upscale San Francisco clothing boutique, Modern Appealing Clothing, has lodged a class action suit against Ivanka Trump's brand, accusing it of leveraging her father's presidency to gain an unfair advantage over rivals. Modern Appealing Clothing filed the claim last week in California arguing that sales for Ivanka Trump's clothing and accessories brand "have surged since the election" by exploiting "the power and prestige of the White House for personal gain." The lawsuit comes as Ivanka Trump is seeking security clearance and getting an office in the West Wing, where she reportedly will offer President Trump "her candid advice." Ivanka Trump's company declined to comment on the lawsuit.

4

Sears executives concede company's future in doubt

Sears Holding Corp. acknowledged that its leaders had "substantial doubt" about the struggling department store chain to continue operating. Sears has lost more than $10 billion in recent years, only staying afloat thanks to credit lifelines from CEO Eddie Lampert, a hedge fund manager who is also the company's biggest investor. Lampert is trying to climb onto more solid financial footing with a turnaround plan aiming for reducing its debt and pension obligations by $1.5 billion. The company posted a narrower than expected fourth quarter loss. It has closed stores and recently completed the sale of its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million. "We're taking decisive actions to mitigate" doubts over the company's future, said Howard Riefs, a Sears spokesman.

5

Uber board backs up Kalanick

Uber board members said Tuesday they were standing by embattled CEO Travis Kalanick as he tries to repair the ride-hailing company's reputation, which has been damaged by allegations of sexual harassment and other business practices. Kalanick contributed to the troubles in a clash with a driver that was caught on video. Board member Arianna Huffington said in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters that Uber was pushing forward with a plan to hire a chief operating officer to help Kalanick get Uber back on track, improving relations with drivers, and overhauling its human resources department. "Put very simply, change starts at the top," Huffington said.

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