The daily business briefing: January 3, 2018

Marijuana stocks jump after California starts pot sales, the Trump administration blocks Chinese firm's plan to buy MoneyGram, and more

A medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Marijuana stocks soar after legal sales start in California

Marijuana stocks surged on Tuesday in the first day of trading in 2018, a day after California legalized retail sales. California started permitting recreational pot use for people ages 21 and up on New Year's Day, creating the largest marijuana market in the country. Customers lined up outside dispensaries. A new marijuana exchange-traded fund, ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, shot up by 9 percent, putting it up by 18 percent over a week. Its Canadian counterpart, Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF, jumped by 12 percent. Medreleaf gained the most, rising 29 percent, while Aurora Cannabis rose by 24 percent and Emerald Health Therapeutics by 20 percent.

Forbes Fortune

2. U.S. blocks China's Ant Financial from buying MoneyGram

China's Ant Financial dropped its plan to buy U.S. money transfer company MoneyGram International for $1.2 billion after a U.S. national-security panel blocked it. It was the highest-profile China deal to be prevented by the Trump administration, as trade tensions simmer between the world's largest economies. The collapse of the acquisition marked a setback for Jack Ma, executive chairman of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group, who owns Ant together with other Alibaba executives. MoneyGram shares fell by 8.5 percent in after-market trading.

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3. U.S. stocks rise to record levels on first day of 2018 trading

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, ending the first trading day of 2018 in record territory. Energy stocks led the way, rising by 1.8 percent, and technology stocks gained 1.4 percent. All three of the main U.S. benchmark indexes jumped. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.2 percent, while the S&P 500 rose by 0.8 percent and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.5 percent, its biggest one-day percentage rise since mid-November. The S&P and the Nasdaq closed at records, and the Dow is within a percentage point of its all-time high. Futures for all three major U.S. indexes, which rose significantly in 2017, edged up by 0.2 percent early Wednesday, pointing to possible further gains.


4. Vice puts two top executives on leave pending sexual harassment investigation

Vice Media on Tuesday suspended two top executives pending a sexual harassment investigation. The move came after a New York Times investigation uncovered complaints against the company's president, Andrew Creighton, and its chief digital officer, Mike Germano. Sarah Broderick, Vice chief operating officer and chief financial officer, said in a memo that a special committee of the company's board was "reviewing the facts" regarding a $135,000 2016 settlement between Creighton and a former employee who claimed she was fired after rejecting Creighton's advances. Vice Media co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi have apologized for the company's "boy's club" culture.

The New York Times The Associated Press

5. Hoda Kotb fills Today co-anchor spot left open by Matt Lauer's departure

Hoda Kotb, 53, has been announced as the new co-anchor of Today after Matt Lauer was fired in November following allegations of sexual misconduct. NBC confirmed Kotb will be joining Savannah Guthrie during the program's first two hours and that she will also continue to co-host the show's fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford. "Over the past several weeks, Hoda has seamlessly stepped into the co-anchor role alongside Savannah, and the two have quickly hit the ground running," said NBC News chairman Andy Lack in an email to staff. "They have an undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers, a hallmark of Today." Together, the pair will be the first all-women team to anchor Today.


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