Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 9, 2018

Oil prices return to 3-1/2-year highs after Trump scraps the Iran deal, job openings rise to a record high, and more


Oil prices jump as Trump's withdrawal from Iran deal stokes uncertainty

Oil prices surged on Wednesday to the highest levels in 3 1/2 years after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. The move stoked uncertainty over global oil supplies as Trump vowed to reimpose tough sanctions that could dent Iran's output. World stocks held steady. Boeing Co., the world's largest aerospace company, could lose $20 billion in business with Iran due to Trump's scrapping of the Iran deal. IranAir had ordered 200 passenger jets, including 100 from Airbus, 80 from Boeing, and 20 from Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR. All of the purchases require U.S. licenses because the planes all depend on American-made parts.


Job openings rise to record high as employers battle for qualified workers

The number of U.S. job openings increased by 472,000 to a seasonally adjusted 6.6 million in March, a record high, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. The latest statistics in the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey suggested that as hiring has improved, employers have found it increasingly difficult to find qualified workers. The news fueled rising expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates at least two more times this year, continuing to unwind the measures it took to help lift the economy out of the Great Recession now that the economy is improving. "The labor market is hot and getting hotter by the day so central bankers need to continue to take the punch bowl away because higher wages and greater inflation are on the way," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.


Facebook shakes up management

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday ordered the biggest executive shakeup in the company's 15-year history. The move appeared to consolidate power at the top, leaving the roles of Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, while giving more responsibility to Chris Cox, the chief product officer in charge of the flagship Facebook service. He now will preside over the widely used Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp services. The changes were seen as part of the effort to improve executive communication and user privacy at the social network to address the backlash over fake news posts orchestrated by Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the recent scandal over Cambridge Analytica's improper use of personal data. Facebook also is launching a new team focusing on blockchain technology.


Cohen received $500,000 from firm tied to Russian oligarch

A shell company that President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, used to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels also received more than $1 million from a company controlled by a Russian oligarch and several other corporations, according to documents and statements by Daniels' lawyer and others. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, last year received $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Avenatti said Cohen's shell company also received suspicious payments from companies including drugmaker Novartis and AT&T, which conceded it paid Cohen for "insights" into the administration.


Liberty Global to sell Europe units to Vodafone in $22 billion deal

American media mogul John Malone's Liberty Global is selling its operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania to Britain's Vodafone in a deal worth $22 billion, the companies announced Wednesday. The sale promises to shake up the telecommunications industry in Europe, intensifying Vodafone's rivalry with Germany's Deutsche Telekom. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said the deal would make his company "Europe's leading next generation network owner, serving the largest number of mobile customers and households across the EU." The move marks a retreat for Malone, whose Liberty Global is the world's biggest international cable company.


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