The daily business briefing: November 10, 2017
GOP senators' proposed corporate tax-cut delay drags down stocks, Disney shares get a boost from a Star Wars trilogy plan, and more
Senate Republicans' corporate tax-cut delay spooks markets
Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their tax plan, which differed from the House version on some key points. Like their House counterparts, whose bill was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, Senate Republicans want to cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, but they want to delay the reduction until 2019 instead of doing it right away. Stocks, which have risen sharply in recent months on anticipation of corporate breaks, dropped Thursday and headed for another fall Friday due to investors' concerns over the Senate's proposed delay. Supporters of the legislation also worried that the differences between the House and Senate bills on such issues as whether to keep deductions for state and local taxes could threaten efforts to pass the tax overhaul by year's end.
Star Wars trilogy plan lifts Disney shares despite lackluster earnings
Disney reported quarterly revenue that fell slightly short of analysts' expectations, but the film studio and theme-park operator's stock gained about 1 percent after CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney had reached a deal to make a new Star Wars trilogy. Iger said the studio made the agreement to create the movies with Rian Johnson, director of upcoming film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The news came as Disney battles for viewers who are leaving cable networks. The company, which operates Walt Disney World in Florida, also said Hurricane Irma had cut $100 million from its operating income, although overall attendance at its theme parks was strong, and attendance at its U.S. parks rose by 2 percent in the third quarter.
80 percent of Puerto Rico without power after repaired line fails
Millions of Puerto Ricans lost power again on Thursday after a major Puerto Rican power line repaired by the tiny Montana company Whitefish Energy failed. More than 80 percent of the island, including parts of San Juan and other major cities, is now in the dark again, two months after Hurricane Maria. The failure of the line early Thursday knocked out 25 percent of the U.S. Caribbean island territory's power generation, which had been restored to 43 percent capacity, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said. Whitefish, which lost its contract after critics questioned its qualifications, denied that the new problems "have anything to do with the repairs Whitefish Energy performed," spokesperson Brandon Smulyan said.
Trump touts America-first policies at Asia summit
President Trump said at a regional summit in Vietnam on Thursday that the U.S. "will not tolerate" trade abuses, saying only countries that "follow the rules" will get U.S. business. Trump said that the U.S. had removed trade barriers to let foreign goods into the U.S., but many countries have not reciprocated by opening their markets. "We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," the president said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Danang. "I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first." Despite speculation of a possible one-on-one meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said "scheduling conflicts" would prevent a meeting.
U.K. tribunal rejects Uber appeal in worker rights case
A U.K. employment tribunal on Friday ruled against Uber in its appeal in an employee rights case. A judge said that two Uber drivers, Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, were working for Uber, not serving as self-employed contractors, and were therefore entitled to worker rights, including a minimum wage and holiday pay. "For Uber's estimated 40,000 drivers in the U.K., this is another positive sign that their true employment status is that of a 'worker' and, as such, they should be entitled to worker rights," Alan Price, employment law director at Peninsula, said in a note Friday. The decision could have implications beyond Uber into the larger "gig economy."