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The daily business briefing: January 22, 2019

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Harold Maass
A TSA worker
Scott Olson/Getty Images
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1.

IMF lowers 2019 global economic growth forecast

The International Monetary Fund on Monday cut its growth forecast for 2019 to 3.5 percent from 3.7 percent, citing rising trade tensions and interest rates. "After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected and risks are rising," said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. China's slowing economic growth is another concern: On the same day, China, the world's second-biggest economy, reported that its growth had slowed to the slowest pace in 28 years. The IMF left its forecast of U.S. growth in 2019 unchanged at 2.5 percent, despite concern about the ongoing partial federal government shutdown. [The Associated Press]

2.

TSA says officer absences hit record as shutdown continues

The Transportation Security Administration said Monday that unscheduled absences of U.S. airport security officers had risen to a record 10 percent on Sunday as the partial government shutdown continues. The agency posted the previous high of 7 percent on Saturday. Sunday's absentee rate was more than three times the rate of 3.1 percent on the same day last year. The agency's more than 50,000 TSA officers are among the 800,000 federal employees who have been furloughed or ordered to work without pay during the shutdown. The agency said many workers are not reporting to work because of financial hardship. A quarter of the government has been closed since Dec. 22 due to an impasse over President Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for his promised border wall. [Reuters]

3.

Stock futures fall after long weekend

U.S. stock-index futures fell early Tuesday, pointing to opening losses at the start of a week shortened by the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped by 0.7 percent. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures were down by 0.8 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. In Asia, stocks struggled as investors expressed concern over the International Monetary Fund's decision to cut its global growth forecast. Key threats include the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit uncertainty, a prominent U.K. investor told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "(There's) a lot of geopolitical risk between the U.S. and China — certainly we are in a worse place than we were a year ago," said Martin Gilbert, the co-CEO of British investment company Standard Life Aberdeen. [CNBC]

4.

Theresa May refuses to rule out 'no-deal' Brexit until lawmakers approve plan

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday told lawmakers she could not take a "no-deal" Brexit off the table until Parliament approved an alternative, and proposed seeking further concessions from the European Union to help break a parliamentary deadlock. "No-deal will only be taken off the table by either revoking Article 50, which turns back the results of the referendum — the government will not do that — or by having a deal, and that is what we are trying to work out," May said. May said she would be "more flexible" in an effort to change the Northern Irish backstop, a mechanism to ensure that whatever happens there will be no return to border checks between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and Ireland, which is part of the European Union, when Britain leaves the EU in March. [Reuters]

5.

French data-privacy watchdog fines Google $57 million

France's top data-privacy agency said Monday it was fining Google nearly $57 million for violating Europe's tough new data-privacy rules for its alleged failure to tell users how it collects and uses their personal information. The move marks the first major penalty against a U.S. tech giant under the regulations, which took effect across the region last year. The French watchdog agency also said Google did not properly get consent from users to show them personalized ads. Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation includes sweeping privacy rules the U.S. lacks, and it has forced leading U.S. tech firms to revise data-collection practices to avoid big fines. [The Washington Post]