The daily business briefing: October 18, 2017

Dow briefly rises above 23,000 for first time, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price steps down after sexual harassment claim, and more

A trader sports a Dow 23,000 hat
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

1. The Dow briefly breaks the 23,000 barrier

The Dow Jones Industrial Average pierced the 23,000 mark for the first time on Tuesday, before edging back and closing just below it. The Dow got a lift from strong earnings from UnitedHealth and Johnson & Johnson that sent their stocks surging. The blue-chip index has gained 2.6 percent this month and logged three previous 1,000-point milestones already in 2017. Analysts, however, say it might take a while for the Dow to close above 23,000 and stay there. "Right now, you're contending with earnings season and the fact that the market has run up leading up into the earnings season," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.


2. Amazon Studios chief Roy Price steps down after sexual harassment claim

Amazon Studios head Roy Price stepped down Tuesday, less than a week after a producer he worked with said he had sexually harassed her, the studio confirmed. Price had been suspended indefinitely after The Man in the High Castle producer Isa Hackett said that in 2015 Price repeatedly harassed and propositioned her. Hackett said she rebuffed his advances and told Amazon about what was happening. Price's resignation comes after dozens of women accused powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. Hackett called her experience "shocking and surreal" and said she was inspired to go public by women who came forward with their allegations against Weinstein.

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3. Senators reach bipartisan deal to extend ObamaCare subsidies

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal aiming to extend subsidy payments to insurers to help lower out-of-pocket costs to low-income Americans, Alexander said Tuesday. The deal struck by Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, and Murray, the panel's ranking Democrat, would extend the payments for two years and give states more leeway to change rules on insurance coverage. Trump said he could support the "short-term" deal, although he said his recent executive order increasing flexibility for state insurance markets would do more to improve health coverage. Democrats expressed support but conservatives said they would oppose anything that would "prop up" ObamaCare, which they made a campaign promise to replace.

The Hill

4. Hope for quick NAFTA revisions fade over U.S. demands

Negotiations on rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement have gotten stuck on firm American demands. The stalling of the talks ended hope that an agreement can be reached this year, before Mexico's presidential election and U.S. midterms next year. Negotiators will keep working into 2018. President Trump has harshly criticized NAFTA, saying it kills U.S. jobs. The Trump administration is insisting that the trade pact be changed to help reduce America's trade deficits, but U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said Canada and Mexico had shown no sign they are "willing to make any changes that will result in a rebalancing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits." Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized the U.S. for its "winner-take-all mindset," and accused Washington of trying to "turn back the clock."

The Associated Press

5. Trump drops on Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans

President Trump's net worth has dropped by $600 million to $3.1 billion over the last year due to a weakened New York City commercial real estate market, according to the annual Forbes magazine ranking of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Trump was ranked No. 156 in 2016, but he is now tied with Snapchat creator Evan Spiegel at No. 248. A Trump Organization representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump did not say anything, either. "We'll see if he tweets today," Luisa Kroll, Forbes magazine's senior wealth editor, told CNBC's Squawk Box on Tuesday. "I know he cares a lot."

Forbes USA Today

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