The daily business briefing: January 29, 2018
Trump puts final touches on SOTU emphasizing economic gains, national security officials weigh building a 5G wireless network, and more
Trump puts final touches on State of the Union touting strong economy
President Trump is expected to use his first State of the Union address on Tuesday to emphasize gains the U.S. economy has made since he took office, in a bid to shift attention from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. Trump's aides said he stayed at the White House over the weekend to prepare his speech, which will point to economic growth, low unemployment, and anticipated benefits of GOP tax cuts. "The president is going to talk about how America's back," said White House legislative director Marc Short. "The president is also going to make an appeal to Democrats [...] to say we need to rebuild our country. And to make an appeal that to do infrastructure, we need to do it in a bipartisan way."
Trump administration considers creating a super-fast 5G network
Trump administration national security officials are considering building a super-fast, national 5G mobile network in what would be an unprecedented federal takeover of part of a wireless infrastructure that has always been held by private providers, Axios reported Sunday, citing "sensitive documents" it obtained. The move to centralize and build the nationwide 5G network would be a way to guard against potential economic and cyber security threats from China. An alternative would be for private wireless providers to build their own competing 5G networks, but the documents said that would take longer and cost more. Reuters reported that the proposal was being discussed by low-level officials, and would not be presented to President Trump for six to eight months.
Sanofi to buy Ablynx for $4.8 billion as biotech acquisitions continue
French drugmaker Sanofi said Monday it had agreed to buy Belgian biotech company Ablynx for 3.9 billion euros, or $4.8 billion. Sanofi beat out Novo Nordisk, which had offered 2.6 billion euros, to seal its second major deal this month after its acquisition of Bioverativ. The deals are the latest sign of rising merger activity in biotech. Sanofi's 45 euro-per-share price marked a 21 percent premium over Ablynx's Friday closing price.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure tops the weekend box office
Maze Runner: The Death Cure led the weekend box office, exceeding expectations by taking in $23.5 million. In the first weekend since the announcement of this year's Oscar nominations, some of the films up for the most awards also got a boost. Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water, which received a leading 13 Academy Award nominations, scored its best weekend with $5.7 million, bringing its total to $37.7 million at the close of its ninth weekend in release. The Death Cure, the third and last installment based on James Dashner's dystopian young adult novels, bumped Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, into second place for the first time in three weeks.
Reports: Soldiers unwittingly reveal base locations with their fitness trackers
Soldiers using wearable fitness-trackers while jogging are inadvertently revealing the locations of secret U.S. military bases in such places as Afghanistan, Somalia, Niger, and Syria, The Washington Post and other news outlets reported on Sunday. "In Syria, known coalition (i.e. U.S.) bases light up the night," writes analyst Tobias Schneider. "This is a clear security threat." The interactive Global Heat Map from Strava, a GPS tracking company based in San Francisco, provides a map of activity from 27 million users that can be used with such devices as Fitbit, Jawbone, and Vitofit. When soldiers use the devices while running, they show the GPS coordinates of their bases. The map isn't live; it shows activity from 2015 to September 2017.