Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 19, 2017

House Republicans unveil budget plan, Chipotle temporarily closes restaurant over illnesses, and more


House GOP unveils budget blueprint

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a 2018 budget plan calling for big defense spending increases offset by $203 billion in cuts to domestic social programs like Medicare, Social Security, federal employee benefits, and welfare over the next decade. The blueprint, set for a House Budget Committee vote on Wednesday, also sets up special procedures that could let Republicans prevent Democrats from blocking the bills. House GOP leaders hope to use the procedures, known as reconciliation, to push through a tax overhaul, too. House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) called the blueprint "not just a vision for our country, but a plan for action" and "a governing document with real solutions to address our biggest challenges."


Chipotle temporarily closes Virginia restaurant after illnesses reported

Chipotle shares closed down by 4.3 percent on Tuesday after the Mexican grill chain temporarily closed a Virginia restaurant where customers had reportedly fallen ill. The company said the shutdown in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Sterling, Virginia, came after a "small number" of reported cases of symptoms consistent with norovirus, which it noted "does not come from our food supply." The company said the restaurant would undergo a "complete sanitization" before reopening. The scare came as the restaurant chain struggles to recover from damage it suffered during previous food safety incidents, including an E. coli outbreak and a norovirus case in 2015. Chipotle has since altered its cooking methods and provided more food-safety training for workers.


WhatsApp becomes latest target of China's 'Great Firewall'

Chinese authorities on Tuesday disrupted WhatsApp, Facebook's last major product working in the country. The move was part of an effort by Beijing to impose tighter control over the internet. WhatsApp, a messaging app that is popular worldwide, is the latest major digital service to be thwarted by China's so-called Great Firewall, a system that filters web information and controls users' access to the internet. Sites that host foreign TV shows, for example, have had videos yanked. The intensifying censorship followed the release of a wave of politically sensitive news, such as the death in detention of Nobel Peace Prize winning dissident Liu Xiaobo.


Walmart apologizes after racial slur appears in vendor's ad

Walmart and the U.K.-based hair product company Jagazi Naturals apologized on Tuesday for an online ad with a racial slur that briefly appeared on Walmart's website. Both companies blamed a third-party seller for the ad, which described the color of a wig cap to hold hair in place under a hairpiece as "n--- brown." The ad provoked a quick, angry reaction online. Walmart issued a statement saying it was "very sorry and appalled that this third party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace." Jagazi disavowed both the ad and the product, saying the third-party seller had hijacked its name. "The real JAGAZI is a 100% black company for black people," the company said on its website.


Weak dollar and strong China data lift global stocks

Global stocks rose to all-time highs on Wednesday, as a weak U.S. dollar and upbeat Chinese data gave shares a boost in emerging markets. Investors have put money into riskier assets, such as stocks, as the dollar — the world's most widely used currency — fell close to 10-month lows. MSCI's world stocks index headed for a ninth day of gains, which would be its longest winning streak in 20 months. "Most emerging markets are doing quite well at the moment, especially in Asia," said Marijke Zewuster, head of emerging markets research at ABN AMRO. U.S. stock futures were mostly flat ahead of Wednesday's open, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq-100 appeared headed for a fresh record high.


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