Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 28, 2017

Cyber Monday sets online sales record, Fed nominee Jerome Powell projects stability ahead of confirmation hearing, and more

1

Cyber Monday sales set record

Cyber Monday set a record with $6.59 billion in sales, making it the biggest U.S. shopping day in history, according to a report by Adobe Analytics. The total marked a 16.8 percent increase over the previous record of $5.65 billion set last year. Retailers this year also brought in $5.03 billion on Black Friday, and $2.87 billion on Thanksgiving. The global record was set on China's Singles' Day with $25.4 billion earlier this month. In the U.S., 47.4 percent of Cyber Monday visits were from mobile devices, mostly smartphones. That's also a record. Revenue from smartphone sales rose by 32.2 percent to a record $1.59 billion. Amazon probably took the biggest share of online sales, with an estimated 42 percent, according to marketing research firm Slice Intelligence. The National Retail Federation releases its holiday shopping data on Tuesday.

2

Fed nominee Jerome Powell projects stability ahead of confirmation hearing

Federal Reserve governor Jerome Powell, nominated by President Trump to succeed Fed Chair Janet Yellen, said in written remarks for his Tuesday confirmation hearing that he expected the central bank to continue unwinding its economic stimulus, casting himself as a source of stability. Powell said the Fed would likely continue gradually raising interest rates and trimming bond holdings it bought to help reduce borrowing costs. "I don't think people expect him to be much different than Yellen," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at Lindsey Group. "The question is will he be his own man or a Yellen look-alike?"

3

A second Republican comes out against tax plan

A second Republican senator, Steve Daines of Montana, came out against the Senate GOP's proposed tax overhaul on Monday, leaving his party with no votes to spare if it hopes to pass the legislation in its current form. "Senator Daines has concerns with how the tax bill looks at Main Street versus Large Corporations," his spokesperson told Business Insider. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also said he felt the overhaul favored big corporations at the expense of small businesses. Republicans, eager for a legislative victory, are scrambling to make changes to push the bill through quickly, but so far the proposed revisions focus on sweetening benefits for wealthy business owners rather than responding to calls from critics to increase benefits for smaller businesses and low-income Americans.

4

SoftBank offers to buy Uber shares at a 30 percent discount

Japan's SoftBank has offered to buy Uber shares at a 30 percent discount from its most recent valuation of $68.5 billion, Reuters reported Monday, citing a person familiar with the proposal. The investment was approved by Uber's board last month. The arrangement also would set in motion changes to Uber's board, expanding it from 11 to 17 directors and limiting the power of early investors and former CEO Travis Kalanick. The ride-hailing company's new chief, Dara Khosrowshahi, reportedly supports the moves. He came on board after a year of scandals over sexual harassment and other signs of a toxic corporate culture. Last week he announced that executives had covered up a major hack last year.

5

U.S. stock futures inch higher ahead of Powell's confirmation hearing

U.S. stock futures edged up early Tuesday, pointing to a higher open ahead of Federal Reserve nominee Jerome Powell's Senate confirmation hearing. S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq-100 futures were all up by 0.1 percent or less. The Dow inched up on Monday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite closed slightly lower. Powell is scheduled to testify starting at 10 a.m. His opening statement, released Monday, promised stability, but investors will be looking for clarification on how he plans to run the central bank when he takes over from current Chair Janet Yellen in February. "His big differentiating factor vs. Yellen is that he is approaching financial regulation with a lighter touch," said Elsa Lignos, RBC's global head of foreign exchange strategy, in a note.

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