Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 25, 2017

Republican leaders circulate plan for tax cuts, European stocks edge down after Germany's elections, and more

1

GOP leaders circulate plan with tax cuts for rich, corporations

Republican leaders have started circulating a proposal that would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing two people familiar with the plan. The so-called "Big Six" tax framework hammered out in private by six top Republicans and administration officials will lead to a battle with Democrats, who vow to oppose big breaks for the wealthiest Americans. President Trump said Sunday that he hoped the corporate tax rate would be cut even more, to 15 percent.

2

European markets lose ground after German elections

The euro and European stocks edged down on Monday after the region's most powerful leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, won a fourth term but headed toward the uncertainty of a fractured Parliament as far-right candidates surged. Months of coalition talks could complicate Brexit negotiations with the U.K. "Merkel's most pressing task now is not to knit Europe closer together. It's to form a coalition which will prove to be extremely difficult and time-consuming," said Oliver Rakau, chief German economist at Oxford Economics. The euro dropped by 0.3 percent to $1.19. Euro zone stocks also fell by 0.3 percent.

3

GOP health plan faces growing opposition

The latest GOP attempt to replace ObamaCare hit mounting opposition on Sunday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said neither he nor fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) could vote for the proposal "right now." Moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said it would be "very difficult" to imagine voting for the bill, written by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Republicans, with a 52-48 majority, can only afford to lose three votes, and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have already vowed to vote no, so one more defection could kill it. A revised version to be unveiled Monday will offer more money to states with Republican holdouts.

4

Gas prices drop as refineries return to action after floods

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline dropped by 7 cents in the U.S. over the last two weeks as more Gulf Coast refineries that closed due to Hurricane Harvey's flooding resumed operation. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that prices should fall further in the next few weeks as the industry recovery continues. The average price for regular-grade gas nationally is now $2.62 a gallon, ranging from a low of $2.19 a gallon in St. Louis to a high of $3.18 a gallon in San Francisco.

5

U.S. stocks struggle for footing ahead of Fed leaders' comments

U.S. stocks appeared headed for a rough start to the week, with Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures edging down by about 0.1 percent early Monday. Nasdaq-100 futures fell by 0.16 percent. Investors will be watching for indications on the Federal Reserve's plans for unwinding its massive balance sheet in October and beyond as several Fed bankers speak publicly this week. The central bank's chairwoman, Janet Yellen, will make a speech on Tuesday, and Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer on Thursday. On Monday, New York Fed President William Dudley will speak and take questions in Syracuse, New York, before the market opens, and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkar will appear at separate events later in the day.

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