The daily business briefing: May 17, 2018

Harold Maass
The Senate passes an effort to preserve net neutrality
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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Senate Democrats push through legislation to preserve net neutrality

Senate Democrats, with the help of three Republicans, approved legislation seeking to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's plan to ditch the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules that prevented internet service providers from slowing connections for some users and letting others pay for faster service. Despite prevailing in the 52-47 vote, Democrats have little hope of passing the measure in the Republican-controlled House. Even if they did, President Trump would be expected to veto it, and Democrats would lack the votes to override him. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by Trump in January 2017, got the commission to overturn the net neutrality rules in December, calling them heavy-handed. [USA Today]


North Carolina teachers protest for better pay, more education funding

About 19,000 North Carolina teachers protested in the streets of the state capital, Raleigh, on Wednesday, calling for better pay and increased funding for public schools. "I feel the current politicians in charge of the state are anti-public education," Raleigh high school teacher Bill Notarnicola said at the march, the latest in a series of teacher protests across the country demanding increased education spending. "We are seeing cutback, after cutback, after cutback." The teachers, wearing red shirts, carried signs with such slogans as "We care! We vote!" Many of the demonstrators entered the Legislative Building, where the Republican-controlled legislature was holding meetings. No arrests were made. [The Associated Press]


Macron calls for U.S. to exempt Europe from tariffs

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for the U.S. to exempt Europe from President Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying "Europe's economic sovereignty" is at stake. The European Union is pressing for an end to the threat of tariffs on EU steel exports as the deadline for the levies to take effect approaches. Trump announced tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, but temporarily exempted the EU until June 1. The EU argues that the tariffs violate global trade rules and has compiled a list of $3.4 billion in "rebalancing" duties on U.S. goods, which it plans to impose if it doesn't get a permanent exemption. [The Associated Press]


Stock futures weighed down by ongoing geopolitical tensions

U.S. stock futures edged down early Thursday as geopolitical risks continued to trouble investors, with trade war concerns lingering and North Korea threatening to pull out of a June summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.1 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq-100 dropped by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. One Wednesday, all three of the main U.S. indexes gained, with the Dow rising by 0.3 percent, the S&P 500 by 0.4 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite by 0.6 percent. [MarketWatch]


Ford announces resumption of F-150 pickup production

Ford said Wednesday it would restart production of its popular F-series pickup trucks after a fire at a parts supplier forced the shutdown of F-150 production at factories in Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky. A large fire at a Meridian Magnesium Products facility on May 2 caused a shortage of die-cast parts used by Ford, General Motors, and other automakers, but Ford was hit hardest. The halting of production of the F-150, one of Ford's most lucrative vehicles, forced the company to temporarily lay off 7,600 workers and reduced its second-quarter earnings by 12 cents to 14 cents per share. The company said it had 84 days of supply of the trucks on hand and would make up for the lost production, sticking to its full-year guidance of $1.45 to $1.70 per share. [Fox Business]