Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 28, 2017

Harvey shuts down Houston refineries and drives up gas futures, Uber picks Expedia chief Khosrowshahi as new CEO, and more

1

Gas futures shoot higher as Harvey shuts down Houston refineries

Gasoline futures jumped by 5.5 percent on Monday as flooding from former hurricane Harvey shut down the oil and gas industry in Texas. Several energy companies, including ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, shut down Houston-area refineries on Sunday as Harvey's rains flooded the city. The moves took about 12 percent of U.S. fuel-producing capacity offline, escalating fears of fuel shortages. The Houston Ship Channel, a key gateway for incoming imported crude oil and outgoing fuel, has been shut down since Friday. Refineries in Corpus Christi closed ahead of the storm, taking even more capacity out of commission, although Valero Energy Corp. said it was looking for ways to reopen two Corpus Christi-area refineries that didn't sustain much damage.

2

Expedia chief Dara Khosrowshahi picked as new Uber CEO

Uber's board on Sunday chose Dara Khosrowshahi, head of online travel company Expedia, to be its chief executive, The New York Times reported, citing two people with knowledge of the decision. The decision came on the day another finalist, former General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, dropped out of the running, lacking the necessary support. The board reportedly had been leaning toward picking Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, but shifted gears when the directors and Whitman couldn't agree on details. Settling on Khosrowshahi marks the end of a long and contentious search to replace Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick and return the ride-hailing company to stability after months of turmoil.

3

Trump renews threat to scrap NAFTA ahead of second round of talks

President Trump on Sunday renewed a threat to abandon NAFTA as representatives of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico prepare for a second round of negotiations to revise the 23-year-old trade deal. "We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?" Trump tweeted. Trump vowed during his campaign as the Republican presidential nominee to renegotiate or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said was killing American jobs because auto makers and other manufacturers were moving factories to Mexico, where they could pay workers less. A five-day second round of talks starts Sept. 1.

4

British opposition puts pressure on May as Brexit talks resume

Brexit talks resume on Monday, a day after the opposition Labour Party announced that it wants the U.K. to remain in the European Union's single market and customs union for up to four years after Britain formally leaves the trading bloc. It is unclear whether EU officials would accept such a proposal. Prime Minister Theresa May's divided cabinet is trying to reach a consensus on what will happen in the first few years after Brexit. Legislation on how to move the U.K. out of the EU returns to British Parliament next month, and lawmakers are expected to battle fiercely over the details.

5

Trump's company sought Moscow tower deal during 2016 campaign

President Trump's company sought a deal to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during his campaign in late 2015 and early 2016, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the proposal. An unidentified investor wanted to build the tower and put Trump's name on it under a licensing deal. The lead Trump Organization negotiator was one of its vice presidents, Michael Cohen. The Post said it was unclear how aware or involved Trump was. In one email to Cohen, a Russian-born real estate developer reportedly hinted that he could get Russian President Vladimir Putin to say "great things" about Trump. The Trump Organization and investors signed a letter of intent, but the project was dropped in January 2016, lacking land or proper permits.

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