1. Disney to buy 21st Century Fox film and TV studios in landmark merger
Walt Disney Co. is buying 21st Century Fox's film and TV studios for $52.4 billion in a landmark all-stock deal unveiled early Thursday. Disney also is assuming $13.7 billion in 21st Century Fox debt, bringing the deal's total value to $66.1 billion. The sale comes after nearly 50 years of expansion by Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 86, and leaves his company with remaining assets focused on news and sports. The purchase will help Disney battle new rival content providers. It also gives Disney a controlling stake in Netflix-rival Hulu. Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger said acquiring "this stellar collection of businesses" will help his company satisfy growing demand for content that is "more compelling, accessible, and convenient than ever before."
2. Fed announces 3rd interest rate hike of the year
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday hiked interest rates by 0.25 percent as expected, but kept its projections of future increases unchanged despite accelerating economic growth. It is the third time the Fed has raised rates this year as the economy improves and it winds down its effort to stimulate the economy. The Fed's benchmark short-term rate will now be between 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent. The Fed announced the move after a two-day policy meeting, Janet Yellen's last as chair. The hike is seen as a sign of the central bank's confidence in the strength of the U.S. economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose after the announcement to close at a record high for the fourth straight day.
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3. Republicans reach a deal on taxes
Congressional Republicans said Wednesday they had reached a deal to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the GOP tax overhaul. The joint bill would give big tax cuts to corporations and the super wealthy, with smaller cuts for the middle class and low-income families. The legislation also would end ObamaCare's insurance mandate, a significant step toward realizing the GOP goal of dismantling the Affordable Care Act. "The cynical voices that opposed tax cuts grow smaller and weaker, and the American people grow stronger," President Trump said at the White House. Democrats called for Republicans to hold off the vote until Senator-elect Doug Jones, who upset Roy Moore in Alabama's special election, can be seated. His victory cut the GOP's Senate majority to one seat.
4. Target to acquire Shipt to speed up deliveries
Target agreed Wednesday to buy grocery-delivery startup Shipt for $550 million in cash, accelerating its push to offer same-day shipping to compete better against Amazon. Walmart and Best Buy also have launched same-day shipping to keep up. Acquiring Shipt will let Target customers order groceries and other items to be sent from nearby Target stores. Shipt's resources also will help Target continue improving its logistics operations after acquiring software company Grand Junction, which handles local and same-day deliveries. Target already offers same-day delivery in New York City, and sends goods from 1,400 Target stores.
5. Parliament to get final say on Brexit terms in defeat for May
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered what Labor Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn called "a humiliating loss of authority" on Wednesday when conservative rebels sided with the opposition in the House of Commons to defeat her government in a vote giving Parliament final say on the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union. The House of Commons approved the measure, an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, by a vote of 309-305. The bill as amended still is working its way through Parliament, so there is a chance the amendment could be scrapped. The change won't directly hamper Britain's negotiations with the EU. May headed Thursday to a major EU summit in Brussels.
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