The daily business briefing: January 15, 2020

Harold Maass
A basketball
Doug Pensinger /Allsport


WNBA, players reach tentative contract hiking pay, benefits

The WNBA and its players' union have tentatively agreed to a contract that would raise the annual base salary for top players from $117,500 to $215,000. The maximum total compensation for stars would rise above $500,000, tripling last year's ceiling. The contract agreement, which still must be approved by union members and the league's board, also would provide generous maternity benefits. "What we have here is a multidimensional pay structure as well as benefit structure," Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. "We've really gone all out here. We're making a big bet on this league, a big bet on women." The deal comes as women athletes in many sports, including soccer, tennis, and hockey, are speaking out and demanding better pay and benefits. [The New York Times, ESPN]


Report: Trump to leave China tariffs in place through election

The Trump administration is likely to leave in place new tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports through the November presidential election, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The U.S. and China are preparing to sign a "phase one" trade deal intended to de-escalate their trade war. Bloomberg reported that its sources said the two sides have agreed that 10 months or more after the White House signing ceremony the U.S. will review progress under the deal to determine whether to lift or reduce tariffs Trump imposed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. The Trump administration reportedly still plans to proceed with the halving of a 15 percent tariff on $120 billion in Chinese goods announced in December. [Bloomberg]


Amazon lets sellers resume FedEx ground delivery, FedEx shares jump

FedEx shares rose by as much as 3 percent on Tuesday after Amazon told sellers they could again use FedEx Ground delivery. Amazon temporarily barred the service under its Prime offerings during the holiday shopping season because of concerns over its compliance with on-time delivery goals. An Amazon spokesperson said FedEx Ground was being reinstated because it was consistently meeting Amazon's requirements. "This is good news for our mutual customers who have come to rely on the FedEx Ground offering," a FedEx spokesperson said. "We look forward to working with Seller Fulfilled Prime merchants and providing outstanding service." [CNBC]


Toyota recalls 700,000 vehicles over fuel pump problem

Toyota is recalling 700,000 vehicles in the U.S. due to the possibility that their fuel pumps could fail, causing their engines to stall. "If a vehicle stall occurs while driving at higher speeds, this could increase the risk of a crash," the Japanese automaker warned. The models covered in the recall include some 2018 and 2019 Lexus, Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, and Tundra models. Toyota said it continued to work on repairs, and would notify affected owners by mail in about two months. [USA Today, CNN]


Stocks struggle ahead of U.S.-China trade deal signing

U.S. stock index futures inched lower early Wednesday in a sign of caution ahead of the scheduled signing of the "phase one" trade deal between the U.S. and China. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by less than 0.1 percent, or essentially flat. Wall Street was mixed on Tuesday, giving back gains after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said new tariffs on Chinese goods would stay in effect until the world's two largest economies agreed on an enforceable "phase two" agreement toward ending their trade war. The market also is focused on another wave of earnings reports from banks, with Bank of America, BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs posting their quarterly results. J.P. Morgan Chase shares rose on Tuesday after it reported a strong quarter. [CNBC]