Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 9, 2018

Regulators reject Rick Perry's proposal to subsidize coal plants, Google engineer fired over his gender memo sues company, and more

1

Regulators reject Perry's plan to boost coal industry

Federal regulators on Monday rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry's proposal to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear plants. The decision marked a setback for the Trump administration's push to revive the coal industry, which has declined over the last decade as power companies shifted to cheap natural gas and renewable energy. Perry argued in September that losing coal plants could threaten the power grid's "reliability and resiliency." Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members rejected that logic. "There is no evidence in the record to suggest that temporarily delaying the retirement of uncompetitive coal and nuclear generators would meaningfully improve the resilience of the grid," wrote Commissioner Richard Glick.

2

Ex-Google engineer who wrote gender memo sues

Former Google engineer James Damore, who was fired over a memo in which he argued that biological differences explained gender inequality in the tech industry, filed a lawsuit against the company on Monday, saying it discriminated against him. Google said when it fired him in August that he had violated its code of conduct by supporting harmful gender stereotypes in the workplace. Damore and another white former Google engineer, David Gudeman, argued in a proposed class action lawsuit in Santa Clara County, California, Superior Court that Google had "ostracized, belittled, and punished" them and others "for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males."

3

Activist investors urge Apple to protect kids from iPhone addiction

Two activist investors are urging Apple to study how potential addiction to iPhones is affecting children. "Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do," billion-dollar investors Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, a pension fund, wrote in a letter to Apple they also posted online. The plea is the latest call from insiders for greater attention to potentially harmful effects from tech gadgets and social media, including the Wait Until 8th movement urging parents to sign a pledge to not give kids smartphones until 8th grade.

4

Trump tells farmers 'American dream is roaring back to life'

President Trump declared in a speech to farmers on Monday that the "American dream is roaring back to life," saying the Republican tax cuts and his administration's rollback of regulations were boosting businesses and families. "We have just signed into law the most significant tax cuts and reforms in American history — it's a total of $5.5 trillion in tax cuts," Trump said. Most of the benefits, he said, go to "working families, small businesses, and — who? — the family farmers." The figure for the cuts Trump gave is offset by $4 trillion in tax increases to help pay for the bill, leaving the overall reductions over the next decade at $1.5 trillion.

5

U.S. stocks look to extend 2018 rally

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average poised to resume its rise after Monday's breather and the S&P 500 looking to extend its 2018 winning streak. Dow and Nasdaq-100 futures were up by 0.2 percent early Tuesday, while S&P 500 futures inched 0.1 percent higher. On Monday, the Dow closed down by 0.1 percent while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose slightly. Target shares jumped by 4 percent pre-market after the retailer raised its profit outlook, while Under Armour shares fell by 3 percent after an analyst downgrade.

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