Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 29, 2018

The EU proposes a ban on plastic cutlery and straws, U.S. stocks set to drop as trading resumes after Memorial Day, and more


EU proposes ban on plastic cutlery, straws, and more

The European Commission on Monday proposed a ban on plastic straws, cutlery, plates, and other single-use items as part of an ongoing push to reduce carbon emissions and marine litter. "Plastic can be fantastic but we need to use it more responsibly," Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said in a statement. "Today's proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives." The ban is subject to approval by EU governments and the European Parliament. Member states also would have to cut back on the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by barring them from being given out at no charge. Some plastic products take 1,000 years to decompose, and the EU is trying to encourage companies to re-use more of them with such policies as requiring member states to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025.


Stocks set to open lower on uncertainty over Italy, North Korea

U.S. stock index futures fell sharply early Tuesday, pointing to a drop as trading resumes after the three-day Memorial Day weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 dropped by about 200 points, or 0.8 percent, while futures of the Nasdaq-100 fell by 0.7 percent as political chaos in Italy indicated that the country was headed for likely early elections. Investors also were worried about political uncertainty in Spain, where Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is struggling to stay in power. Markets also were on edge over the prospects of talks between the U.S. and North Korea.


French billionaire Serge Dassault dies at 93

French billionaire Serge Dassault, one of France's richest men, died at his office of a heart attack on Monday. He was 93. Dassault, whose fortune Forbes estimated at $26 billion, owned France's Le Figaro newspaper and jet maker Dassault, which makes Falcon private jets and the Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter aircraft. Olivier Dassault, one of Serge Dassault's sons, said Tuesday in an interview with Europe 1 radio that succession plans were firmly in place. "There is no need for concern, everything is in place, everything will go smoothly, and in total unity," he said. The family-owned Dassault Group appointed Charles Edelstenne as Serge Dassault's eventual successor in 2014. Edelstenne is currently the group's CEO.


Verint Systems in talks to buy Israeli surveillance software maker NSO

U.S. software company Verint Systems Inc. is negotiating a possible purchase of Israeli mobile surveillance software maker NSO Group for roughly $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a person familiar with the talks. NSO sells Pegasus spyware and other military-grade technology, primarily to government security agencies. NSO's primary shareholder, Francisco Partners, bought a majority stake in the company in 2014 for $120 million. NSO faced intense scrutiny last year after allegations surfaced that Mexico's government had used Pegasus mobile software to spy on private citizens.


Oil prices fall as Saudi Arabia, Russia mull production hikes

Oil prices fell on Monday after Saudi Arabia and Russia said they were considering raising production levels after months of reining in supplies to boost long-sagging prices. U.S. production also has been rising. Prices had been rising steadily in recent months thanks largely to cuts by OPEC and other major producers, including Russia. The international benchmark Brent crude broke through the $80-a-barrel barrier this month, but Brent futures fell by $1.12 to $75.32 per barrel on Monday. U.S. crude futures fell by $1.41 to $66.47, regaining some ground after hitting a six-week low of $65.80. The recent run-up in prices "sparked debate" among investors about whether oil prices were going so high they could hurt global economic growth, Chetan Ahya, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note.


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