The daily business briefing: October 23, 2018

Trump announces plan for another tax cut, Saudi Arabia's investment conference starts after corporate exodus, and more

A man at the Saudi investment conference
(Image credit: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Trump announces plan for another tax cut

President Trump on Monday announced that he would propose a tax cut "of about 10 percent" next week for the middle class. He offered few details, but said Congress would vote on the plan soon. "We'll do the vote after the election," Trump said before traveling to Texas, reaffirming his intentions after first mentioning the tax cut on Saturday. Republican congressional leaders referred questions on the tax cut back to the White House, appearing to have been surprised by Trump's announcement. Congress passed a major tax cut package last year, including a cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, but there are no current proposals on Capitol Hill for further reductions. Nonpartisan analyses found last year's cuts mostly benefited the wealthy.

The Washington Post

2. Saudi investment conference kicks off after corporate exodus

Saudi Arabia's big investment conference opened on Tuesday after an exodus of corporate leaders concerned about connections between Saudi leaders and the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been a focus of suspicion due to reports of his ties to some of the suspects, reportedly abruptly canceled plans to speak at the event, dubbed "Davos in the desert." The crown prince denies ordering a hit on Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. The Riyadh event is part of the crown prince's effort to modernize the country's oil-dependent economy. Despite the lack of big names, more junior executives from many companies that backed out will be on hand to discuss business opportunities in the kingdom.

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CNN The New York Times

3. Stocks rattled by potential backlash against Saudi Arabia

U.S. stock futures fell early Tuesday as markets continue to be rattled by resurgent concerns about slowing economic growth in China and geopolitical tensions, including the backlash against Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down by 1.2 percent, pointing to a sharp drop at the open. S&P 500 futures were also down, by nearly 1.5 percent after the index closed down for the fourth straight day on Monday. Analysts said the mood might change in a busy week of corporate earnings reports, especially if companies hint that strong earnings will hold up despite the potential impact of new tariffs. "The earnings results have the potential to stabilize the market," said Laura Kane, head of Investment Themes Americas at UBS Wealth Management Research.

CNBC MarketWatch

4. Constellation Brands looks to sell U.S. wine brands

Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and Modelo beers, is trying to sell some of its U.S.-based wine brands, Reuters reported Monday, citing four people familiar with the matter. The deal could be worth more than $3 billion. By putting its wine brands on the market, the family-owned company is pushing ahead with an increasing shift toward beer and cannabis products more popular with young consumers. The company started out in upstate New York in 1945 and has become a powerhouse worth more than $40 billion thanks to timely investments in premium imported Mexican beers.


5. Judge reduces punitive damages in Roundup case

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos on Monday cut more than $200 million from a jury verdict linking Bayer AG's Roundup weedkiller to cancer, but upheld the jury's conclusion that the company acted with malice. The judge said the $250 million in punitive damages will have to be trimmed to match the $39.25 million in compensatory damages that the jury agreed was appropriate. If Bayer, which inherited thousands of Roundup-related lawsuits in its recent acquisition of Monsanto, agrees to the reduced damages by Dec. 7, there won't be a need for a new trial. The decision came in the first Roundup case to go to trial. The August verdict favored a groundskeeper who blamed prolonged use of glyphosate-based herbicides for his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.