Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 23, 2017

Tesla reportedly lands deal to open factory in China, Fidelity pushes out two executives accused of sexual harassment, and more

1

Tesla reportedly reaches deal to open factory in China

Electric-car maker Tesla has reached a deal to open a factory in Shanghai, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people briefed on the plan. The agreement would give Tesla a wholly owned manufacturing facility in the city's free trade zone and help the company cut its production costs. It would also help Tesla gain ground in China's fast-growing electric vehicle market, although it still is expected to have to pay China's 25 percent import tariff. It would be the first time a foreign automaker managed to set up such an arrangement. Neither Tesla nor the Shanghai government immediately commented on the report.

2

Fidelity pushes out two executives accused of sexual harassment

Fidelity Investments is scrambling to address years of complaints about workplace conduct after pushing out longtime employee C. Robert Chow, 56, earlier this month after he was accused of making inappropriate sexual comments to colleagues. Fidelity also recently fired star tech fund manager Gavin Baker who was accused of sexual harassment. Brian Hogan, president of the mutual fund giant's high-profile stock-picking division, held an emergency meeting last week to remind his staff that the company has a "zero tolerance policy" on inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Hollywood writer/director James Toback and New Orleans celebrity restaurateur John Besh also have been accused of serial sexual harassment.

3

Trump calls on House Republicans to pass budget, tax cuts

President Trump on Sunday urged House Republicans to pass the Senate budget proposal and start working to pass tax reform, saying that haggling with the Senate would delay a much-needed legislative accomplishment and could hurt the GOP in next year's midterm elections. "We are on the verge of doing something very, very historic," Trump said, according to a person who was on the call. Trump's participation in the call to the House Republican Conference ramped up pressure on House Republicans to get behind the budget even though it adds $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade due to tax cuts.

4

Trial starting in lawsuit against Philip Morris over smoker's death

A trial is scheduled to start Monday in a lawsuit against Philip Morris over the lung cancer death of Jeanette Bifolck, a Connecticut woman who smoked the company's Marlboro cigarettes. Bifolck's husband, Vincent Bifolck, filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2006. His wife smoked Marlboro and Marlboro Lights starting in the early 1970s, and was just 42 years old when she died. The lawsuit claims Philip Morris, a subsidiary of Virginia-based Altria Group Inc., knew that cigarettes were "unreasonably" dangerous to smokers. The company denies any wrongdoing and says Jeanette Bifolck made the choice to smoke.

5

U.S. stock futures inch up after last week's records

U.S. stock futures edged up early Monday, pointing to a higher open that could put Wall Street on track to build on last week's records. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which passed the 23,000 milestone last week, rose by 0.1 percent, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 indexes made similar gains. All three of the U.S. benchmark indexes closed at record highs on Friday, their 24th simultaneous record days of the year. A main driver of last week's gains was rising anticipation of big corporate and individual tax cuts following Senate approval of a budget that included a tool to let Republicans pass the tax cuts with a simple majority, preventing Democrats from blocking the legislation with a filibuster. Strong third-quarter earnings reports also have lifted U.S. stocks.

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