Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 21, 2017

Nebraska regulators approve alternate Keystone XL pipeline route, the DOJ sues to block AT&T's Time Warner purchase, and more

1

Nebraska regulators approve alternate Keystone XL pipeline route

Nebraska's Public Service Commission on Monday approved a route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, sweeping away the long-delayed project's final major obstacle. The decision marked a victory for President Trump, who has advocated it as a job creator and revived it after the Obama administration denied a border crossing permit for the project. The decision, however, gave the pipeline's owner, TransCanada, the right to build on an alternate route, not its preferred one, so the company said it would have to "conduct a careful review" to see how the changes would affect the work's "cost and schedule." Opponents vowed to continue fighting what they said would be an environmental disaster. Four days ago, another TransCanada pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota.

2

Justice Department sues to block $85 billion AT&T acquisition of Time Warner

The Justice Department launched a lawsuit on Monday seeking to block AT&T Inc.'s proposed $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner. "This merger would greatly harm American consumers," said Makan Delrahim, head of the department's antitrust division. "It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy." The move amounted to a potentially major setback for AT&T's effort to merge its telecommunications empire with Time Warner's media content. The lawsuit marked the first time in decades the Justice Department has tried to prevent a merger that wasn't between direct competitors. "Today's DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent," AT&T said in a statement.

3

Yellen says she will leave Fed board when she's replaced as chair

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen announced Monday that she would step down from the central bank's Board of Governors when her replacement takes over in February. President Trump announced he would nominate Fed governor Jerome Powell to succeed Yellen as chair when her term comes to an end in February, breaking with tradition by denying Yellen a second term. Yellen's term as a Fed governor continues until 2024, but she said she would leave after Powell takes over as the Fed's leader. "As I prepare to leave the board, I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago," Yellen wrote in a letter informing Trump of her decision.

4

Uber announces deal to buy 24,000 Volvo autonomous vehicles

Uber on Monday announced a new deal to purchase as many as 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo once the technology is ready to use in Uber's ride-hailing network. "We don't know exactly how an autonomous world will look," said Jeff Miller, Uber's head of automotive alliances. "But we know that we want to be the platform that's at the center of it." Also on Monday, Colorado regulators fined Uber $8.9 million for letting people with serious criminal or road violations serve as Uber drivers. The penalty came after the Colorado Public Utilities Commission investigated a complaint that an Uber driver had assaulted a passenger in the mountain resort town of Vail, and found that nearly 60 Colorado Uber drivers had felony convictions.

5

Stock futures inch up ahead of more corporate earnings

U.S. stock futures rose slightly early Tuesday, setting up the Nasdaq Composite index for a shot at another record high. Nasdaq-100 futures added 0.1 percent, as did S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures. During the day, stocks could be influenced by a flurry of corporate earnings reports. Investors also are digesting outgoing Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's announcement that she will leave the central bank altogether when she is replaced in February. She could have stayed on as a governor until 2024. Her departure will give President Trump greater leeway to shake up the leadership of the central bank.

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