The daily business briefing: March 13, 2019

Harold Maass
Theresa May leaves Downing Street
Leon Neal/Getty Images
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British Parliament rejects May's Brexit plan

Britain's Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for the U.K.'s exit from the European Union in the latest in a series of embarrassing defeats for the British leader. Lawmakers voted 391-242 against the deal despite last minute concessions May got from the EU to guarantee that the U.K. wouldn't be indefinitely bound by European regulations under provisions to prevent a hard border with Ireland. The so-called Irish backstop would keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU until a permanent new trade deal is in place. The vote deepened the chaos surrounding Brexit just 17 days before the U.K. is scheduled to officially leave the European trading bloc. Parliament votes Wednesday on whether to leave the EU with no deal. [The Associated Press]


Europe grounds Boeing 737 Max jets

The European Union's aviation safety regulator on Tuesday joined countries around the world that have temporarily grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in reaction to the second deadly crash of one of the new jets in less than five months. The move came shortly after Britain, Germany, and France announced they were suspending flights of the popular Boeing 737 model until an investigation determines what caused the Sunday crash in Ethiopia that killed all 157 people on board. Boeing's stock dropped for a second day on Tuesday as the world's biggest plane maker said it had "full confidence" in the aircraft. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has resisted pressure to ground the 737 Max, and doubled down Tuesday, saying there was "no basis" to do so. [Reuters, CNBC]


Executives among dozens charged in college-admissions cheating scheme

Numerous business executives, including a former head of Pimco and a Hercules Capital founder, were among nearly 50 people charged in a $25 million cheating operation to get wealthy students into elite colleges, including Yale and Stanford, law enforcement authorities said Tuesday. The 33 parents charged also included actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Authorities said parents used the college preparatory business Edge College & Career Network to arrange cheating on standardized tests and bribing coaches to treat the students as recruited athletes regardless of their athletic ability. "There can be no separate college admission for the wealthy," U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said, "and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either." [CNBC, NBC News]


VW to cut 7,000 jobs in bid to increase profits

Volkswagen announced Wednesday that it would cut up to 7,000 positions in a bid to boost profitability. The German automaker said the reductions would result in $6.7 billion in annual savings by 2023. The news came a day after the German automaker said it would speed up and expand its push to produce electric vehicles, which require fewer workers. Volkswagen plans to build 22 million electric cars through 2028, far more than its previous goal of 15 million, Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s chief executive, said Tuesday. The shift comes as the company tries to recover from a diesel emissions cheating scandal and become a leader in battery-powered vehicles. [Reuters, The New York Times]


Stock futures little changed as Brexit, Boeing weigh on markets

U.S. stock index futures were mostly flat early Wednesday as Boeing shares declined due to concerns over its most popular jet, and global markets digested the latest defeat for British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fluctuated between tiny gains and losses, while those for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up by about 0.1 percent. Boeing shares fell by more than 6 percent on Tuesday as more countries and the European Union grounded its 737 Max 8 jets following the second deadly crash of one of the aircrafts in less than five months. On the Brexit front, British lawmakers rejected May's plan on Tuesday and vote Wednesday on whether to leave the EU without a deal. [CNBC]