The daily business briefing: May 23, 2019

Harold Maass
Theresa May in London
Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images


Theresa May faces mounting pressure to quit in Brexit backlash

British Prime Minister Theresa May faced mounting calls to resign in a backlash against her latest Brexit plan, and multiple reports indicated she could step down as soon as Friday. The resignation of the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, on Wednesday night appeared to have left May with no remaining options. Leadsom was scheduled to introduce May's new Brexit plan on Thursday but she said she could not support it because it could pave the way for a second referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union at all, which she said would be "dangerously divisive." The turmoil came as the European Union starts parliamentary elections that could see far-right populists expand their power. [Business Insider, USA Today]


Mnuchin: Harriet Tubman $20 bill's release postponed

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that the Trump administration was delaying the release of the $20 bill bearing the face of former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman until 2028, after President Trump leaves office. The bill with Tubman, a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, replacing slaveholding former President Andrew Jackson was supposed to be ready in 2020, but Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee that the currency was being redesigned mostly to address "counterfeiting issues." During his 2016 campaign, Trump criticized the replacement of Jackson with Tubman as "pure political correctness," and he suggested putting the 19th century abolitionist on the $2 bill instead. [The New York Times, NPR]


Trump cuts short infrastructure meeting with leading Democrats

President Trump ended a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders after just a few minutes on Wednesday, saying he would not cooperate with them until they end congressional investigations into his finances, possible attempts to obstruct justice, and other matters. Trump called on Democrats to finish "these phony investigations," and he lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for accusing him of a "cover-up." Pelosi made the comment shortly before she arrived at the White House, after a meeting with Democrats where she continued to resist mounting pressure to start impeachment proceedings against Trump. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they had gone to the White House ready to make a deal on a $2 trillion plan to rebuild roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. [The New York Times]


Stocks struggle as Trump considers targeting another China company

U.S. stock index futures fell early Thursday in a sign of ongoing concerns over the intensifying trade war between the U.S. and China. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 0.9 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell by 1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The fresh worries followed reports that the Trump administration is considering blocking Chinese surveillance equipment provider Hikvision from buying U.S. components. India's stock market surged to a record high Thursday on expectations of a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's business-friendly center-right government, which is known for its embrace of Hindu nationalism. [CNBC, CNN]


Qualcomm vows to appeal ruling as stock plunges

Qualcomm shares dropped sharply on Wednesday, falling 10 percent on the day after a federal judge ruled that the company charged excessive royalties for its patents and "strangled competition" with its licensing practices. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, siding with the Federal Trade Commission in its antitrust lawsuit, ordered Qualcomm to renegotiate all of its patent agreements. The setback thrust Qualcomm back into uncertainty following the chipmaker's favorable resolution of a patent fight with Apple. Qualcomm's executive vice president and general counsel, Don Rosenberg, said the company "strongly" disagrees with the judge's conclusions and would appeal the ruling. [MarketWatch]