Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 17, 2017

Trump disbands two business councils after CEOs quit, Fed inflation concerns weigh on stocks, and more 

1

Trump shuts down business councils after CEOs quit

President Trump's two main business advisory councils shut down on Wednesday after a parade of corporate leaders quit after repudiating Trump's response to the deadly violence at Saturday's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump twice said both white nationalists and counter-protesters were to blame for the clashes, in which one 32-year-old counter-protester was killed when a 20-year-old reputed white nationalist allegedly plowed intentionally into a crowd of civil rights activists. JP Morgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, a member of the Strategy & Policy Forum, told employees his group decided to disband after Trump, defying bipartisan criticism, doubled down Tuesday on his finger-pointing at counter-protesters, and appeared to express sympathy for some people who marched with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

2

Fed inflation fears and Trump backlash weigh on stocks

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher on Wednesday, retreating from earlier highs after the latest backlash against President Trump's response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, and the release of Federal Reserve minutes revealing concerns about low inflation. Many investors fear the increasingly bipartisan criticism of Trump could make it harder for him to realize his pro-business agenda. The Fed minutes raised questions about the central bank's plans, with some policy makers calling for a halt to interest rate hikes until inflation resumes its climb toward the Fed's 2 percent target. The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its fourth straight day of gains to return to 22,000, but U.S. futures pointed to slightly a lower open on Thursday as the investors digest the Fed minutes.

3

Twitter suspends Daily Stormer accounts

Twitter on Wednesday suspended the accounts of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that helped organize a Charlottesville rally against the removal of a Confederate statue from a park. The Daily Stormer has faced mounting pressure from tech services since the rally, where a 32-year-old counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed by a reputed white nationalist who drove a car into a crowd. Twitter said it prohibits violent threats, harassment, and hateful conduct on its microblogging site, and "will take action on accounts violating those policies." Earlier this week, The Daily Stormer's web hosting service said it was dropping the account and cutting off its service.

4

Organizers call off Google protests

Organizers have postponed protests at Google offices over the company's firing of an employee who wrote an anti-diversity memo, claiming they faced threats of violence from "alt-left terrorist groups" in the wake of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. "March on Google" events had been planned in Pittsburgh, Cambridge, and seven other locations on Saturday to protest the firing, which Google said was because the memo, claiming that women were underrepresented in the tech industry because of biological differences rather than discrimination, violated corporate policy. Jack Posobiec, a far-right media figure who helped push the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, had called for the protests, saying they would be against censorship. Police in Cambridge said there had been "no known threats" against the event there.

5

Trump administration starts NAFTA talks calling for 'major' changes

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that President Trump "is not interested in a mere tweaking" of NAFTA on Wednesday, the first of five days of talks on revising the 23-year-old trade pact. "We believe NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement," Lighthizer said. The North American Free Trade Agreement eliminated most trade barriers between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and Trump says the deal has hurt Americans by encouraging manufacturers to move to Mexico, where wages are lower.

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