Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 20, 2017

Tech stocks beat their pre-dot-com crash record, CBO says 32 million would lose health coverage under repeal-and-delay, and more

1

Gains finally lift tech stocks above pre-dot-com crash record

Tech stocks surged on Wednesday, lifting the S&P 500 information technology index above a record set on March 27, 2000, before the bursting of the dot-com bubble. The index, which includes 60 of the biggest U.S. tech companies, rose by 0.6 percent, its ninth straight day of gains. The three U.S. benchmark indexes — the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq composite — also rose, with all of them setting new record closes. Analysts said strong corporate earnings drove the gains. "We had an earnings recession last year," said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management, "but we now have consecutive quarters of earnings growth." U.S. stocks futures edged higher early Thursday ahead of the European Central Bank's decision to hold interest rates steady.

2

CBO: 32 million would lose insurance under repeal-and-delay bill

Thirty-two million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 if Congress repeals ObamaCare without replacing it, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported Wednesday. The CBO said 17 million Americans would lose coverage in 2018, and premiums on individual plans would rise by 25 percent. President Trump, who suggested a day earlier he would be fine with letting ObamaCare collapse on its own, met Wednesday with 49 Republican senators and told them to skip their August recess and find a compromise on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, although moderate opposition to cutting Medicaid and conservative opposition to keeping any key ObamaCare elements threaten to kill any revised bill.

3

U.S.-China talks yield no breakthrough

U.S. and Chinese officials concluded high-levels talks Wednesday, but instead of announcing deals, both sides accused each other of blocking progress on economic disagreements. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said continued confrontations between the world's two biggest economies "damage the interests of both." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said "Chinese government intervention in its economy" was responsible for America's trade gap with China, which reached $347 billion last year, and he called for Beijing to increase access for U.S. companies to help reduce it.

4

Carrier laying off 338 workers at factory where Trump boasted of job-saving deal

Carrier on Thursday will lay off 338 employees at an Indianapolis factory where then-President-elect Trump touted a deal to save jobs by scrapping a plan to move jobs to Mexico. The workers at the plant, which makes fan coils for air conditioners, said Wednesday that the previously announced lay-offs were taking place. The jobs will be shifted to Mexico, where factory workers make as much in a day as their U.S. counterparts make in an hour. The plan includes 290 more lay-offs three days before next Christmas, but Carrier said it "continues to honor its 2016 commitment to employ approximately 1,100 associates in Indianapolis."

5

Facebook working on tool to drive subscribers to news outlets

Facebook is developing a tool to drive subscriptions to news organizations in a bid to improve its often touchy relationship with media companies, which complain Facebook benefits from their articles without paying. The tool would be part of Facebook's Instant Articles product, which lets publishers post news articles users can read within Facebook, instead of being re-directed to the news outlet's site. Discussions are in their early stages. Facebook reportedly plans to follow a model many newspapers use, using a metered paywall to send readers to the news organization's subscription site and requiring them to subscribe to the Facebook platform after they read 10 free articles. A pilot project with a small number of publishers could start in October.

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