The daily business briefing: November 3, 2017
House Republicans release their tax reform bill, Apple shares jump as iPhone X sales begin, and more
House GOP releases tax reform bill
House Republicans on Thursday unveiled their broad tax reform plan, combining big, permanent tax cuts for corporations, which get $1 trillion of the plan's $1.5 trillion in cuts over a decade, with reduced deductions for home-buyers and simplified filing procedures for many Americans. In a White House kickoff event, supporters touted the overhaul as a break for the middle class. "We are working to give the American people a giant tax cut for Christmas," President Trump said in the Oval Office, promising that the reforms would "create jobs." Democrats, however, dismissed the plan as a money grab for the rich with such changes as a phase-out of the inheritance tax and the repeal of the alternative minimum tax on the wealthy.
Apple shares rise on strong earnings and start of iPhone X sales
Apple shares soared by 3 percent in after-hours trading Thursday to a new record high after the tech giant released quarterly earnings that smashed analysts' expectations. The company also forecast record revenue in the crucial current holiday quarter. The company's high expectations eased fears about anticipated sales of the high-profile iPhone X, which start Friday. Long, snaking lines formed around Apple stores in Asia on Friday, contrasting with lackluster recent launches of other iPhone upgrades. "This is going to be the best holiday season yet," Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a conference call after the results were released. "We're bullish." Apple's stock surge pushed it toward a $900 billion market capitalization.
Jobs report shows hiring rebound in October after weak September
The economy added 261,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department reported Friday, with the gains falling short of the 325,000-job increase analysts expected but still marking a sharp rebound from September's weakness due to hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The October gains nudged the unemployment rate down to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent, putting it at its lowest level in 17 years. The initial September employment figures showed a loss of 33,000 jobs that month, but the latest figures indicate that the economy actually gained 18,000 jobs that month. Wages dropped by 1 cent to an average of $26.53 an hour.
Trump nominates Jerome Powell as next Fed chair
President Trump on Thursday announced that he was nominating Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to replace Janet Yellen as chair of the U.S. central bank when her term ends in February. The move, though expected, marked a break with tradition, as Yellen will be the first Fed chair not appointed to a second term since 1979. Powell, 64, is a soft-spoken centrist lawyer and investment banker. Then-President Barack Obama named him to the Fed board in 2012, and he has supported Yellen's push to slowly raise interest rates, unwinding the Fed's effort to stimulate the economy after the 2007-2009 financial crisis. "We need strong and steady leadership at the U.S. Federal Reserve," Trump said. "He will provide exactly that."
Twitter blames employee for brief disappearance of Trump's Twitter account
President Trump's Twitter account, which he frequently uses to make political pronouncements, attack critics, and telegraph policy decisions, briefly went offline on Thursday night. Users looking for Trump's feed during the outage got a message saying, "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!" Twitter said Trump's was down for 11 minutes when it "was inadvertently deactivated due to human error," although the company later said it was done by a customer support worker "on the employee's last day." The company said Trump's account had been restored. "We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again," Twitter said in a statement.