Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 16, 2017

Opposition from two GOP senators threatens tax plan, Cordray will leave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and more

1

2 Republicans criticize GOP Senate tax plan

Two Republican senators criticized the GOP tax overhaul proposal on Wednesday, eroding the party's narrow majority and raising questions about whether it can pass in its current form. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he would vote against the current draft because it lavishes tax breaks on corporations at the expense of other businesses. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) criticized the bill for seeking to repeal ObamaCare's insurance mandate, which she said was a "mistake." Democrats have harshly criticized Republicans for inserting the attempt to hobble the Affordable Care Act. "This bill seems to get worse by the hour," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

2

Cordray stepping down from consumer protection job

Richard Cordray, the Democratic director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Wednesday that he would step down at the end of the month. Cordray was appointed by former President Barack Obama as the first director of the bureau, which was established as a part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations. Under his leadership, the bureau has canceled debts for 29 million Americans, and retrieved billions in refunds. His five-year term was not due to expire until the summer of 2018, but Cordray is expected to run for governor in his home state, Ohio. He did not confirm his plans in his announcement, however, but said it had been "a joy of my life" to serve as the agency's first director and work with others to build the institution.

3

U.S. stocks look to regain lost ground

U.S. stock futures bounced back early Thursday after the three main benchmark indexes fell by roughly 0.6 percent on Wednesday. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up by 0.3 percent following the Dow's 138-point Wednesday drop. Falling oil prices weighed down energy stocks on Wednesday, but Cisco Systems' gains following upbeat earnings provided a lift overnight. "Markets stand at an intriguing crossroads," said Richard Perry, a Hantec Markets analyst, in a note. "Asian markets have bounced. ... European markets have taken heart from the Asian session and have also found support in early moves. It will be interesting to see if this lasts."

4

NYT: Koch brothers back latest Meredith bid for Time Inc.

Time Inc. is discussing selling itself to Meredith Corporation in a deal backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Time Inc. publishes titles such as Time, People, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated; Meredith puts out Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. A 2013 deal collapsed over a disagreement over which titles Meredith would buy. Talks resumed but fizzled earlier this year, but Charles and David Koch, who are known for supporting conservative political causes, revived the proposed deal by tentatively agreeing to put up more than $500 million to back it. The companies have been negotiating for the past several days, the Times reported.

5

Amazon slashes more Whole Foods prices ahead of holidays

Amazon and Whole Foods Market on Wednesday announced new price cuts and even steeper discounts for Amazon Prime members on Thanksgiving items such as turkeys, as well as many in-house Organic 365 and other organic brand products. Select organic turkeys, for example, will be priced at $3.49 per pound, with Prime members paying 50 cents less. In a press release, Amazon and Whole Foods called the reductions "a sneak preview of the special savings and in-store benefits Prime members can expect when Prime becomes the official rewards program of Whole Foods Market." "Ever since Amazon bought Whole Foods Market, this is exactly what the other grocery store competitors have been fearing," Fort Pitt Capital analyst Kim Forrest told Reuters.

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