Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 25, 2017

Senate Republicans roll back rule that would have let consumers sue banks, Twitter starts ad transparency push, and more

1

Senate blocks rule letting consumers sue their banks

The Senate late Tuesday voted to block new regulations that would have let consumers sue their banks, with Vice President Pence casting a vote to break a 50-50 tie. House Republicans have already approved scrapping the rule, so now the legislation just needs President Trump's approval. The change will give big banks their most significant victory since Trump took office promising to undo regulations he said were strangling the economy. Experts estimated the lawsuits the rule would have allowed could have cost big financial institutions billions of dollars. The vote marks a setback for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which wrote the rule to let customers take banks to court rather than going through mandatory arbitration, as required in most credit card and bank account agreements.

2

Twitter launches ad transparency push

Twitter announced Tuesday that it would launch an ad transparency push. The move came a month after Facebook started a similar effort to let people know who was buying political ads, what demographics they were targeting, and how much election advertisers were spending. Most social media companies have offered little such information in the past, but they are facing increasing calls for openness since Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet's Google said recently that Russian operatives and Moscow-linked entities had bought ads intended to distribute divisive messages during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

3

Puerto Rico effort to restore power faces setbacks

Five weeks after Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico, islanders are actually losing power, rather than gaining it back. Just 18 percent of Puerto Ricans currently have electricity, down 3.2 percent from earlier this month, BBC's James Cook reports. "It's like going back in time," Kevin Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, 25, said of living without electricity. An estimated 73 percent of Puerto Ricans now have drinkable water and 79 percent of gas stations are open. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) signed a contract worth up to $300 million with Whitefish Energy to work on the island's ravaged electrical infrastructure. When Maria hit, two-year-old Whitefish — based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown — had just two employees.

4

Chipotle shares fall after disappointing earnings report

Chipotle shares plunged by 9.5 percent in extended trading after the Mexican grill chain reported quarterly sales that were slightly lower than expected. The company, which is still struggling to recover from recent food safety incidents, also said it would open fewer restaurants as it focused on correcting recent problems. "We're going to slow down just a little bit, but this is a temporary slowdown for 12 to 18 months," said Steve Ells, Chipotle founder and chief executive. "You have to get the fundamentals right first. Looking inward and understanding where you made mistakes in the past helps you set up for change."

5

U.S. stocks struggle after Tuesday gains fueled by strong Caterpillar, 3M earnings

U.S. stock futures were mixed early Wednesday, with S&P futures down by 0.1 percent and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures flat. The S&P 500 was being weighed down by sell-offs of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Advanced Micro Devices after they reported disappointing earnings. On Tuesday, all three major U.S. benchmark indexes gained, with the Dow surging by 0.7 percent to its 54th record close of the year after better-than-expected earnings reports lifted shares of construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar and Post-it note maker 3M.

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