Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 24, 2017

Trump approves the Keystone XL pipeline, the Senate approves rolling back Obama internet privacy rules, and more

1

Trump issues permit approving Keystone XL pipeline construction

The Trump administration issued a presidential permit on Friday approving the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. President Trump had earlier signed an executive order to move the project forward, arguing that the pipeline would create thousands of jobs. The $8 billion pipeline has faced fierce protest from environmental activists, who point to its use of Alberta's carbon-laden tar sands as a contributor to climate change. "We cannot let the Trump administration undo the progress that people all over the country have made to ensure we avoid catastrophic climate change," said Greenpeace's Diana Best. Former President Obama blocked the project in 2015, claiming it would contribute to climate change and would not reduce fuel prices for American drivers.

2

Twitter considers launching a premium service

Twitter said Thursday that it was considering launching a premium version of its microblogging service aimed at professionals in what would be the first attempt to collect subscription fees in the company's 11-year history. Up to now, Twitter has offered its network for free as it focused on building its user base. The company now has 319 million users worldwide and has become a media mouthpiece for celebrities and political leaders, including President Trump. Still, Twitter has not been able to sign up enough advertisers to make a profit, so it is now conducting a survey "to assess the interest in a new, more enhanced version of Tweetdeck," spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca said.

3

Senate votes to roll back Obama internet-privacy protections

The Senate on Thursday voted 50-48 in favor of undoing Obama administration rules protecting internet privacy. The legislation would make it easier for broadband providers to sell their customers' usage information to other companies for advertising purposes. The resolution would prevent the federal government from enacting rules against abusing information gathered on consumers' web browsing. A trade group representing cable providers applauded the vote, saying it would let companies restore "a consistent approach to online privacy protection that consumers want and deserve." Neema Singh Giuliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that senators had voted to "sacrifice the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies, including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon." The House will take a look at the joint resolution next.

4

AT&T workers end strike after one day

AT&T workers returned to work in California and Nevada on Thursday, ending a strike that began early Wednesday over increased responsibilities for technicians who install and maintain AT&T's U-verse television system. The Communication Workers of America, the union that represents the roughly 17,000 workers who went on strike, was also protesting the offshoring and outsourcing of jobs. Union leaders reached a truce with the telecommunications powerhouse, saying "the company will no longer require technicians to perform work assignments outside of their expertise and classification." AT&T said it wasn't proposing reduced wages and would "remain committed to providing great benefits."

5

Stocks rise but remain on track for worst week in months as health vote looms

U.S. stocks headed for a higher open on Friday but still appeared headed for their worst week since November, as resistance to House Republican leaders' ObamaCare replacement raised doubts about President Trump's promised tax cuts. Trump has issued resistant Republicans an ultimatum, telling them to pass the legislation, or reject it and miss their only chance to replace ObamaCare. GOP leaders delayed a scheduled Thursday showdown to rally more support, but planned to hold the vote on Friday. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose by about 0.2 percent early in the day, while S&P 500 futures gained 0.1 percent and Nasdaq-100 futures rose by 0.2 percent.

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