Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 1, 2017

House Republicans delay the unveiling of their tax plan by a day, consumer confidence rises to a 17-year high, and more

1

House GOP delays unveiling of tax plan by one day

House Republicans delayed the release of their sweeping tax-cut proposal by one day, moving it from Wednesday to Thursday as they try to make last-minute changes. "We are very close," Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said late Tuesday when he announced the delay. President Trump is pushing for approval of the legislation by Christmas, hoping to score a major legislative victory following the failure of GOP efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare. GOP tax-writers are working on adjustments to address objections expressed by rank-and-file Republicans to proposals to pay for corporate and individual tax cuts, such as deficit spending and reductions to allowable pre-tax contributions to 401(k)s. Democrats have complained the plan gives too many breaks to the wealthy.

2

Consumer confidence rises to highest mark in nearly 17 years

Consumer confidence rose in October to its highest level in nearly 17 years, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The organization's consumer confidence index rose to 125.9, higher than economists expected and the highest since December 2000, when it reached 128.6. The rating was "boosted by the job market which had not received such favorable ratings since the summer of 2001," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. The mood also got a lift from rising stock prices, with the major U.S. indexes trading near record highs on Tuesday.

3

Fed expected to keep interest rates unchanged

Federal Reserve policy makers are expected to hold interest rates steady when they wrap up their two-day meeting on Wednesday. Economists believe the central bank will reaffirm its view that the economy is doing well heading toward a December meeting where the next interest rate hike is anticipated. The Fed has raised rates twice since January as the employment and inflation pictures improved, but held off in recent meetings as inflation edged back from the Fed's two-percent target rate. Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank, said this meeting is "probably going to be a somewhat boring event for markets," because it will be overshadowed by President Trump's expected announcement on Thursday of his pick for a new Fed chair to replace Janet Yellen.

4

Stocks poised to start November with gains

World stocks were generally higher on Wednesday, rising on optimism over global economic growth. U.S. stock futures gained ground, too. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were poised to open higher, with Dow futures up by 0.4 percent and S&P 500 futures rising by 0.3 percent. Nasdaq-100 futures were up by 0.4 percent. The Dow and the S&P 500 appeared to be headed for the latest in a stream of records, boosted by a strong corporate earnings season and hopes for corporate and individual tax cuts under a Republican plan due to be released by the House this week. The Dow enters November after completing its first seven-month winning streak since April 2012.

5

Netflix halts production of House of Cards

Netflix suspended filming of the sixth and final season of the hit drama House of Cards on Tuesday in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against star Kevin Spacey. A day earlier, the streaming service had said it would drop production of the show after Season 6 was finished. Netflix and show producer Media Rights Capital said they decided to pause work on the show "to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew." Actor Anthony Rapp said that in 1986 when he was 14 Spacey made inappropriate advances. Spacey said he didn't remember the incident, but if it happened as Rapp described, he owed him the "sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."

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