The daily business briefing: February 16, 2018

Regulators reject Chicago Stock Exchange sale to China-linked investors, Amazon removes Jeffrey Tambor from Transparent, and more

Jeffrey Tambor speaks in Hollywood
(Image credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Regulators reject Chicago Stock Exchange sale to China-linked investors

Federal regulators on Thursday rejected the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a consortium led by China-based investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a document posted on its website Thursday that the deal failed to comply with rules governing stock exchanges, partly because the CSE couldn't provide documents to clear up questions about the proposed ownership structure, which would have given a China-based shareholder 29 percent of the company. SEC staff approved the deal in August, but commissioners put the decision on hold to allow further review. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. approved the acquisition in December 2016.

Reuters Bloomberg

2. Dow regains 25,000 level after five days of gains

U.S. stocks rose for the fifth straight session on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 1.2 percent to regain the 25,000 level for the first time in nearly two weeks. The S&P 500 also added 1.2 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite rose by 1.6 percent. The Dow and S&P are still 4 percent to 6 percent below last month's highs, but well above the low points they hit when their losses reached 10 percent below their peak, putting them officially in correction territory. Analysts had warned a selloff was coming, but now they're suggesting the plunge might have gone further than it should have, fueled by fears that rising inflation would prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than previously expected to keep the economy from overheating. Stock futures edged higher early Friday.

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3. Mortgage rates rise to highest levels in 4 years

Thirty-year mortgage rates rose to their highest level in four years, lending giant Freddie Mac reported on Thursday. Rates rose in line with bond yields, which jumped on fears about an uptick in inflation as the economy gains strength. The average 30-year mortgage rate rose to 4.38 percent this week, up from 4.32 percent at the end of last week, the mortgage finance agency said. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield also has hit four-year peaks. Core measures for producer and consumer prices increased slightly more than expected this week, increasing expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise its benchmark interest rate at its March meeting.


4. Congressman: FCC watchdog investigating timing of rules change benefiting Sinclair

The Federal Communications Commission's top internal watchdog is investigating whether the agency's controversial chairman, Ajit Pai, improperly pushed through rule changes that benefited Sinclair Broadcasting, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said Thursday. Pai suggested the change to the number of television stations broadcasters can own, and shortly after the rules were tweaked, Sinclair bought Tribune Media for $3.9 billion in a deal made possible by the change. Pallone, the top Democrat on the committee that oversees the FCC, said he has been "trying to get to the bottom" of questions about Pai's relationship with Sinclair for months to see if the timing of the changes was meant to benefit the company. The FCC inspector general, Pai's office, and Sinclair all declined to comment.

The New York Times USA Today

5. Amazon confirms that Jeffrey Tambor will not return to Transparent

The Emmy-winning dramedy Transparent is losing its main star, Amazon confirmed Thursday. Actor Jeffrey Tambor, who portrayed the transgender main character Maura Pfefferman, will not return to the show, after being investigated for sexual harassment, as Amazon declined to renew his contract. Tambor's personal assistant Van Barnes first made the allegations against him, followed by Tambor's Transparent co-star Trace Lysette in November. Tambor released two statements in response, expressing regret that his actions were "misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive" but denying any wrongdoing on his part. He also condemned the "politicized atmosphere" on the set of Transparent. It remains unclear how the show's plot will be affected by Tambor's dismissal, or whether this will be Transparent's last season.


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