The daily business briefing: December 4, 2018

Harold Maass
An electric car in London


Stocks surge after U.S.-China trade truce before skepticism sets in

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by 288 points — 1.1 percent — after trading as much as 442 points higher as investors celebrated the three-month truce President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have struck in their trade war. The Nasdaq Composite rose by 1.5 percent and the S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent. After meeting on Saturday during the G-20 summit in Argentina, Trump and Xi agreed to hold off on raising any more tariffs while the two sides try to negotiate a trade deal. Stock-index futures fell early Tuesday as skepticism over the deal bubbled up. "Just because they have a truce for three months doesn't mean this thing is going away," said Jurrien Timmer, director of global macro at the asset manager Fidelity Investments in Boston. [The New York Times, CNBC]


White House pushes for ending electric-car subsidies

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Monday said the Trump administration wants Congress to end subsidies for electric cars in 2020 or 2021. Kudlow said the administration also wants to end subsidies enacted during the Obama administration, such as those on "renewables." "As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies," Kudlow told reporters. Under federal law, consumers who purchase plug-in electric vehicles receive tax credits worth $2,500 to $7,500, but the subsidies already end after a manufacturer hits 200,000 vehicles. President Trump threatened to end electric-car subsidies last week, after General Motors announced it was closing several North American facilities. GM already expected to reach the cap by the end of 2018. Tesla hit it in July. [Reuters]


EU legal adviser says U.K. can unilaterally halt Brexit process

A top European Union legal adviser concluded Tuesday that the British government has the power to unilaterally stop the Brexit process. In an opinion for the European Court of Justice, Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona said that Article 50 of the EU treaty "allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU." That announcement, which Britain made after voters backed a proposal to exit the trading bloc, started a two-year countdown toward Britain's withdrawal in March. If the judges accept the advocate general's non-binding decision, as they normally do, anti-Brexit lawmakers will have another option when they consider whether to approve Prime Minister Theresa May's draft Brexit deal. [BBC News, CNN]


U.S. stock markets to close Wednesday to honor Bush

Major U.S. stock markets, including the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, plan to close on Wednesday in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at 94. The federal government also will be closed in observance of a national day of mourning. Bush's state funeral will be held Wednesday at Washington's National Cathedral. The last time the markets were closed because of the death of a former president was on Jan. 2, 2007, a national day of mourning for former President Gerald R. Ford. [The Associated Press]


SpaceX sets several records with latest rocket launch

SpaceX completed its record 19th rocket launch of the year on Monday. The mission set another record by taking an unprecedented 64 satellites into orbit at the same time. The private space-flight company also used the same Falcon 9 booster rocket for a third time, another first. SpaceX had launched and landed the rocket's first stage in May and August. SpaceX's founder and leader Elon Musk has made reusing rockets a key part of his effort to reduce the time and cost of space missions. Musk says SpaceX, which dominates the global market for orbital rocket launches, plans to be able to launch, land, and launch again a Falcon 9 all within 24 hours as early as next year. [CNBC]