Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 26, 2018

Trump, countering Mnuchin, talks up a strong dollar, Dell considers an IPO, and more

1

Trump talks up strong dollar, saying Mnuchin's weak dollar plug was misinterpreted

The U.S. dollar edged up on Thursday after President Trump said he favored a strong dollar. "The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar," Trump said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of his Friday keynote address. "Our country is becoming so economically strong again and strong in other ways, too." Trump's comment countered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's assertion the day before that a weak dollar was good for the U.S. because it boosted exports by making American goods cheaper overseas. Mnuchin's comments caused the currency to dip on Wednesday. Trump said people had misinterpreted Mnuchin's remarks.

2

Dell considers IPO

Dell is reportedly considering an initial public stock offering and other strategic options to boost revenue and raise money, according to Thursday media reports. CEO Michael Dell took the company private in a $25 billion 2013 deal. The personal computer maker's board is meeting later this month to discuss the possible new moves, which also include a possible deal with its majority owned New York-listed unit, VMware, which has seen its shares rise by more than 62 percent in the past 12 months and touched an all-time high on Thursday.

3

EPA eases regulations on power plants that make changes to cut pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it was withdrawing a provision of the Clean Air Act requiring power plants to be treated as major polluters, even after making changes to cut emissions. The rolling back of the "once-in always-in" policy marks President Trump's latest effort to deliver on promises to reduce business regulation. "It will reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states, while continuing to ensure stringent and effective controls on hazardous air pollutants," Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement.

4

Trump touts tax and regulation cuts in Davos speech

President Trump delivered a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday. White House officials previewed the address by saying Trump would credit the recent Republican tax cuts and his administration's rolling back of regulations with making this a good time to invest in the U.S. Trump also tried to dispel wariness of his criticism of multinational trade deals and his "America First" policies by saying the U.S. is committed to free markets, under fair terms. On Thursday, billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros said at the annual Davos dinner he hosts that he was concerned about the state of global democracy. He criticized Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Facebook and Google, which he said had "monolithic power" to manipulate and deceive users.

5

North Korean coal reportedly being shipped through Russia

North Korean coal was shipped to Russia last year, then delivered to South Korea and Japan in a possible violation of United Nations sanctions, Reuters reported Thursday, citing three Western European intelligence sources. The U.N. Security Council banned exports of North Korean coal in August to block a key source of foreign currency Pyongyang needs to finance its nuclear weapon and missile programs. At least three times, however, it managed to route shipments through Russia, the sources said. "Russia's port of Nakhodka is becoming a transshipping hub for North Korean coal," said one of the European security sources. Russia's foreign ministry did not respond to Reuters' request for comment, although Russia's U.N. mission has reported that Moscow is complying with the sanctions.

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