Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 8, 2017

Britain and the EU make a breakthrough on Brexit, November U.S. job gains exceed expectations, and more

1

U.K. and EU agree on general Brexit terms

The U.K. and the European Union on Friday announced a deal on general terms of their split. The breakthrough came after months of deadlock, including a near breakdown over disagreement over borders between Northern Ireland — part of the U.K. — and the Republic of Ireland — part of the EU. Britain made a series of concessions, including how much it will pay the EU, guarantees on the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. and British citizens in the EU, and language ruling out a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The accord, which still needs approval from EU leaders, clears the way for the more difficult next phase of the divorce process: detailed trade negotiations.

2

Economy adds 228,000 jobs in November, exceeding expectations

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 228,000 jobs in November, exceeding an average forecast by Wall Street economists of a 200,000-job gain. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent. Average wages rose 0.2 percent, or 5 cents, to $26.55 an hour. The numbers provided fresh evidence that hiring and the economy in general continue to grow stronger. U.S. stock futures added to early gains after the monthly employment report was released. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose by 0.3 percent, while tech-heavy Nasdaq-100 futures rose by 0.6 percent, and S&P 500 futures were up 0.3 percent.

3

Bitcoin hits $17,000, then dives

Bitcoin continued its race into record territory on Thursday, hitting $17,000 before falling by $2,500 early Friday in Asia. The cryptocurrency has jumped by 40 percent this week, with a $5,000 jump over 48 hours. It started the year under $1,000, and its frenzied climb is fueling fears that it is a classic bubble destined to burst spectacularly. The run has been driven by plans for a bitcoin product to start trading Sunday on a U.S. financial market for the first time. That will give bitcoin a "veneer" of legitimacy, said Mark Williams, a former Federal Reserve official who teaches finance at Boston University. "From an investor's standpoint, that could give it a false sense of protection."

4

Congress passes bill to avert government shutdown

The House and Senate passed a stopgap spending bill on Thursday to avert a government shutdown this weekend after current funds run out. The votes sent the measure to President Trump in time to beat a weekend deadline. The spending bill keeps government agencies funded through Dec. 22, giving Republicans and Democrats time to reach agreements on a host of unresolved issues, including funding a key children's health program and restoring protection from deportation for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Leaders from both parties met with President Trump in initial discussions both sides described as "productive."

5

Anheuser-Busch orders 40 Tesla electric semis

Anheuser-Busch is ordering 40 of Tesla's new electric semi-trucks as part of its effort to cut its carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2025. "At Anheuser-Busch, we are constantly seeking new ways to make our supply chain more sustainable, efficient, and innovative," said James Sembrot, Anhesuer-Busch's head of logistics strategy. "This investment in Tesla semi-trucks helps us achieve these goals while improving road safety and lowering our environmental impact." The order marks an early high-profile bet on Tesla's newly unveiled trucks, which it plans to start delivering in 2019. Walmart has ordered 15, and trucking company J.B. Hunt says it is buying "multiple" Tesla trucks.

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