Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 15, 2017

Airbus signs a massive deal with Frontier Airlines' owner, Republicans add ObamaCare mandate repeal to Senate tax bill, and more

1

Airbus seals $49.5 billion aircraft deal, its biggest sale

Airbus on Wednesday signed a $49.5 billion deal at the Dubai Air Show to sell 430 jets to Indigo Partners, the Phoenix-based private equity firm that owns Frontier Airlines. Frontier and several overseas ultra-low-cost airlines associated with Indigo will split 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos in one of the largest deals in aviation history. Both aircraft are twin-engine, single-aisle planes popular for their low fuel consumption. The announcement helped Airbus bounce back from the embarrassment of having believed it had reached an agreement to sell its A380 double-decker jumbo jet to Emirates, only to see the state-owned airline sign a $15.1 billion deal with Boeing.

2

Senate Republicans add repeal of ObamaCare mandate to tax bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that the Senate tax bill would include a proposal to repeal ObamaCare's mandate for Americans to acquire health insurance. Conservatives led by GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) demanded the provision, which would raise up to $400 billion over the next year that Republicans want to use to help pay for corporate and individual tax cuts. Republican leaders said the measure to repeal the mandate would help them muster the votes needed to pass the overhaul. "We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful," McConnell said.

3

Dow futures drop on concerns over falling oil prices and tax-cut prospects

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures plunged by more than 100 points on Wednesday as falling oil prices and lingering concerns over the fate of the GOP's proposed corporate and individual tax cuts continued to steer investors away from stocks and other risky assets. Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq-100 futures were all down by about 0.5 percent before the opening bell. Similar worries weighed on stocks Tuesday, with the Dow climbing back from steeper losses to close down by 0.1 percent, while the S&P 500 fell by 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3 percent. Oil prices fell on Tuesday, with the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude falling by 1.1 percent to $55.08 a barrel after the American Petroleum Institute reported an unexpected buildup in U.S. inventories.

4

Sessions declines to say whether DOJ told AT&T to sell CNN

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday declined to answer questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee about whether White House officials had encouraged the Justice Department to demand that AT&T sell CNN-parent Turner Broadcasting as a condition for its proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner. A report that the Justice Department was calling for the sale of CNN has sparked criticism of the Trump administration, because President Trump has frequently criticized CNN, calling it "fake news." The White House has said no administration officials have discussed the matter with Sessions, and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said his company would fight any call for the sale of CNN.

5

Papa John's apologizes for blaming NFL protests for slow sales

Papa John's apologized Tuesday night for a recent claim by its CEO, John Schnatter, that NFL players' kneeling protests during the national anthem were to blame for the pizza chain's slow sales. Schnatter, whose company is a major NFL sponsor and advertiser, said on a Nov. 1 earnings call that "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders" and that the protests calling attention to police mistreatment of African-Americans "should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago." The company apologized to anyone who found Schnatter's comments divisive. "We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change," the company said in a statement. "We also believe, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both."

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