Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 26, 2017

North Korea tensions weigh on global stocks, largest diamond found in a century sells for $53 million, and more

The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond

1

North Korea tensions weigh on stocks

Asian stocks dropped on Tuesday, following overnight declines in the U.S., as North Korea accused President Trump of declaring war and other global uncertainties spooked investors. European stocks struggled too, partly due to a weaker showing by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's allies as she won a fourth term to lead Europe's biggest economy. U.S. stock index futures edged down, too, pointing to a slightly lower open on Tuesday. Markets could get their next nudge from a speech from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen later in the day. Investors will be looking for clues on the Fed's plans, including whether it will raise interest rates in December.

2

Senate GOP health bill in trouble as Collins joins opposition

Senate Republicans' latest effort to replace ObamaCare collapsed on Monday when moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in opposition to the bill, leaving the legislation all but dead. With three Republicans as solid "no" votes, the GOP can't muster the 50 votes it would need to pass the proposal, with the help of Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaking vote. Some Republicans continued to push for a vote. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who led a five-hour hearing on the bill that was disrupted by protesters Monday afternoon, said: "You don't have one Democrat vote for it. So it's going to fail."

3

Target raises its minimum wage

Target said Monday that it would raise its workers' minimum wage to $11 an hour next month and $15 an hour by the end of 2020 to help recruit and retain good employees. Target quietly boosted its entry-level wage by $1 to $10 an hour last year. The moves will put Target's minimum far higher than the $7.25 federal minimum wage, and those of rivals such as Walmart, which are around $10. "We see this not only as an investment in our team but an investment in an elevated experience for our guests and the communities we serve," Brian Cornell, Target's chief executive, told reporters Friday.

4

May to meet with EU president on Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May meets with European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday in a bid to push through an impasse on the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union. The fourth round of Brexit talks is underway in Brussels. May recently proposed a two-year transition to smooth the process, and EU negotiator Michel Barnier said he was "eager" to see how May's position would translate into specific terms. The EU wants guarantees on the U.K.'s financial commitments and the rights of EU citizens in Britain before discussions begin on future trade relationships.

5

Largest diamond found in a century sells for $53 million

Lucara Diamond Corp. sold the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond — the biggest gem found in more than a century — for $53 million to Graff Diamonds on Monday. The smaller Constellation stone, which was found at the same time, sold last year for a record $63 million. The Lesedi, or "our light" in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana, only drew one bid and was withdrawn at its first auction. It will be more difficult to cut, and its color doesn't match that of the Constellation. "If you take the potential outcomes from the stone into consideration, the risk that the buyer is actually taking, you can now see why it wasn't the easiest one to sell," Lucara CEO William Lamb said.

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