Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 18, 2017

The Last Jedi makes the second-biggest debut ever, Carolina Panthers' owner faces misconduct allegations, and more

1

Star Wars: The Last Jedi launches with biggest box office haul of 2017

The newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, had a blockbuster opening weekend, as expected, leading the pack with a $220 million haul domestically. If confirmed, The Last Jedi's debut weekend would be the second-biggest ever, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which brought in $247.9 million in its opening weekend in 2015. That film got a boost from pent up demand, as it was the first new Star Wars movie to hit screens in a decade. The Last Jedi easily posted the best showing of the year, as its producers, Disney and Lucasfilm, had expected. It went into the weekend with $45 million in ticket sales for Thursday previews, also the second best ever.

2

Carolina Panthers owner to sell team after misconduct allegations surface

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday that he would sell the team, with the news coming two days after the start of an internal investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, including a racial slur and sexual harassment. Hours before Richardson's statement, the National Football League said it had taken over the inquiry. The team announced Friday that it was starting the investigation, and Sports Illustrated outlined the complaints by former Panthers employees on Sunday. Richardson did not reference the allegations in his announcement. He said the sale process would not begin until the last game of the season has been played.

3

GOP leaders confident tax overhaul will pass this week

Vice President Mike Pence has postponed his trip to Israel and Egypt scheduled for this week in the event the Senate tax vote ends in a tie, his office announced Monday. Republican leaders said Sunday that they expected the House and the Senate to pass their joint tax overhaul this week in time for President Trump to sign it before Christmas, as promised. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the GOP whip, said on ABC's This Week that he was "confident" the Senate would pass the bill, as early as Tuesday. The vote promises to be tight, however. Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate, and Sen. John McCain plans to return to Arizona for the holidays after being hospitalized last week for what his office described as "normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy," meaning he will likely miss the vote.

4

Atlanta airport shut down by 11-hour power outage

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world's busiest, was hit with an 11-hour power outage that left thousands of passengers stranded on Sunday. Power was restored around midnight. Delta Airlines, which has its largest hub at the airport, canceled 300 Monday flights. The blackout was caused by an electrical fire at one of three Georgia Power substations at the airport. All 1,000 incoming and outgoing flights were grounded while the electricity was out. "We certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger," Mayor Kasim Reed said shortly before full power was restored, "and we're doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away."

5

U.S. stocks aim for fresh records, lifted by tax bill prospects

Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures gained early Monday on optimism about the final version of the Republican tax overhaul, which includes big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. GOP leaders say they are confident they can pass the bill this week as promised. Dow futures gained 0.5 percent, while S&P futures were up 0.4 percent. All three main U.S. benchmarks closed at record highs on Friday. Global stocks also gained, and Bitcoin opened above $20,000 on the world's biggest future exchange, the CME Group's Chicago Mercantile Exchange CME. The January contract dropped by 0.9 percent early in the day to $19,320.

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