Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 29, 2017

The Senate GOP tax overhaul clears a hurdle, Fed nominee Jerome Powell tells senators a December rate hike is likely, and more

1

Senate panel advances GOP tax overhaul

The Senate Budget Committee approved the Republican tax overhaul in a 12-11 party-line vote on Tuesday after two GOP senators who have expressed opposition agreed not to block it from advancing to the full Senate. One of the potential GOP holdouts, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), said he had received assurances that it would include a "trigger" to "ensure greater fiscal responsibility should economic growth estimates not be realized." The other, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), flipped to "yes" to move it along, hoping to get taxes on smaller businesses reduced before a final vote. With a slim 52-to-48 Senate majority and all Democrats opposed, Republicans can only afford two defections and still pass the legislation. Protesters outside shouting "kill the bill" were arrested.

2

Fed nominee says December rate hike likely

Jerome Powell, President Trump's nominee to succeed Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chairman, signaled in his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the central bank probably would raise interest rates at its December meeting. "I think the case for raising interest rates at our next meeting is coming together," Powell told the Senate Banking Committee. Powell said the Dodd-Frank Act, passed after the 2008 financial crisis, had made the U.S. financial system stronger, but some regulations covering smaller banks could be eased, something President Trump and Wall Street support. "We will we continue to consider appropriate ways to ease regulatory burdens while preserving the core reforms," Powell said.

3

Stocks post new records

U.S. stocks surged to the latest in a series of records on Tuesday as investors shook off news of a North Korean missile launch and focused on a Senate panel's approval of the pro-business GOP tax overhaul. The markets also got a boost from comments by Jerome Powell, President Trump's Federal Reserve nominee, signaling that he expects to keep the central bank on its current course when he replaces Janet Yellen as Fed chair in February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 1.1 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 1 percent and the Nasdaq Composite 0.5 percent. Early Wednesday, Dow futures pointed to a higher open that could put the benchmark within striking distance of the 24,000 milestone. S&P and Nasdaq futures edged down.

4

Bitcoin breaks $10,000 barrier

Bitcoin broke the $10,000 barrier on Wednesday, reaching an all-time high of $10,831.75, CNBC reported, citing industry site CoinDesk. That marked a 10 percent jump in 24 hours. The cryptocurrency has made a meteoric rise from 6 cents seven years ago. It has risen more than 10-fold since starting 2017 at under $1,000. Bitcoin uses encryption and a blockchain database to transfer funds quickly and anonymously. Critics have dismissed it as a "fraud" and a "fad," but the world's largest futures exchange, CME, plans to launch bitcoin futures in December, adding to its legitimacy as an asset class.

5

NBC fires Matt Lauer after sexual misconduct allegation

NBC has fired longtime Today show host Matt Lauer after a colleague accused him of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Lauer's former co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, announced the news Wednesday at the start of the show. "We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these last few weeks: How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?" Guthrie said. In a memo to staff, NBC News chairman Andy Lack explained that "on Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer." Lack added that while "it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."

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