Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 11, 2017

Bitcoin futures soar in first day of trading, Ascension and Providence discuss huge hospital-operator merger, and more

1

Bitcoin futures skyrocket in first hours of trading

Bitcoin futures soared after making their debut on Wall Street on Sunday night, with contracts expiring in January rising by 21 percent to go as high as $18,700 before falling to $17,600 early Monday, CBOE Global Markets said. The launch of bitcoin futures trading contributed to a surge in bitcoin prices last week as people interpreted the sale of bitcoin futures as a sign the cryptocurrency is gaining wider acceptance. Bitcoin started the year around $1,000, with its meteoric rise fueling both investor enthusiasm and warnings that bitcoin's prices were too high to justify. Grant Spencer, acting governor of the Reserve bank, said Sunday that bitcoin appeared to be a "classic case" of a bubble.

2

Ascension and Providence discuss massive hospital merger

Major hospital operators Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, both nonprofits, are discussing a possible merger that could create the biggest hospital owner in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the talks. If they merge, the new operation would have 191 hospitals in 27 states with $44.8 billion in annual revenue, beating the current leading hospital operator, HCA Healthcare Inc., which has 177 hospitals. A deal is far from certain, people with knowledge of the talks said, and it could lead to an arrangement short of a merger. The discussions come as the health-care industry is facing potentially significant changes that could affect how people get care, such as CVS Health Corp.'s $69 billion deal to buy insurer Aetna.

3

U.S. jobs report lifts world stocks, U.S. futures rise

Global stocks rose on Monday following Friday's upbeat jobs report in the U.S. Major indexes in Germany and France rose by 0.1 percent, while Britain's gained 0.7 percent. In the U.S., Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures appeared headed for another run into to record territory ahead of this week's Federal Reserve meeting, which is expected to end with an interest rate hike in response to the strengthening economy. Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq-100 futures were up by 0.2 percent early Monday.

4

Green Monday offers a late shot at holiday bargains

Holiday shoppers have another chance to hunt for bargains on Dec. 11. EBay dubbed the second Monday in December "Green Monday" a decade ago, because it was typically one of the biggest online shopping days of the year as customers rushed to get gifts that can still arrive before Christmas with standard shipping. "Back in 2007, you really did have to be careful about shipping times," said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing for DealNews.com. "There is this belief, even today, though, that it's the last day you can shop online for holiday gifts and that's absolutely not the case." Even though Amazon and many stores now guarantee shipping until Dec. 22 or Dec. 23, many big retailers are offering discounts, although typically not as big as those seen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

5

Coco leads weekend box office for third straight week

The new Pixar hit Coco led the box office for the third straight weekend. Disney estimated on Sunday that the animated film brought in another $18.3 million, raising its domestic total to $135.5 million. The only movie making a debut in wide release, Morgan Freeman's Just Getting Started, made just $3.2 million. Most studios want to stay clear of directly competing with the next Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, which is expected to trounce the competition when it opens Dec. 15.

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