The daily business briefing: January 22, 2020

Harold Maass
Trump in Davos


Trump touts U.S. economy in return to Davos

President Trump made his first appearance in two years at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, taking credit for soaring stocks and historically low unemployment in the U.S. and meeting with global business leaders. It was Trump's first overseas event since the House approved two articles of impeachment against him, and Trump said little about his trial getting underway in the Senate, other than to dismiss the charges as "just a hoax" when reporters asked him about it. Trump said his administration had turned what he described as a sagging U.S. economy into a "roaring geyser of opportunity." He also pushed back against calls for action on climate change, saying "we must reject the perennial prophets of doom" and embrace optimism. [The New York Times]


Boeing pushes back expected date for 737 Max return

Boeing shares dropped sharply on Tuesday after the aircraft-maker said it didn't expect federal regulators to approve fixes for the grounded 737 Max jet until this summer. That timetable pushed the resolution back several months from the schedule Boeing predicted as recently as a few weeks ago. The further delay could push the plane's return to service deep into or beyond the peak summer travel season, increasing problems for airlines. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it was overseeing a "thorough, deliberate process" for approving Boeing fixes, including changes to a flight-control system cited as a cause in Max crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 that killed 346 people. [The Associated Press]


Stock futures bounce back after Tuesday losses

U.S. stock index futures rose early Wednesday, bouncing back from Tuesday losses that were partly blamed on fear of economic fallout from a rapidly spreading deadly virus in China. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell, and those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up even more. Investors continued to monitor developments in China. The government unveiled containment measures that helped to ease concerns that the Wuhan coronavirus could spark a global pandemic. U.S. health officials announced they had confirmed the first case of the illness in the U.S., but said the patient was doing well and "poses little risk" to the public. [CNBC]


Report: 'High confidence' Saudi crown prince hacked Jeff Bezos' phone

A digital forensic analysis indicated that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked after he received an apparently infected video file via WhatsApp from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2018, The Guardian reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter. The analysis of Bezos' phone, launched after the National Enquirer published intimate details about Bezos' private life, reportedly revealed that following a seemingly friendly conversation between the two men, the video file sent by the crown prince corrupted Bezos' phone. Large amounts of data were extracted hours later. It was unclear exactly what was leaked. Saudi Arabia has previously denied targeting Bezos' phone, but investigations determined with "high confidence" that Riyadh was behind the efforts. Saudi Arabia denied the prince hacked Bezos. [The Guardian]


Krystal files for bankruptcy protection

Hamburger chain Krystal has filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it was struggling against increasing competition, shifting tastes, and online delivery services. The company also said it was having trouble finding employees in a tight labor market. "These challenges (together with company-specific business challenges) have resulted in deteriorating financial performance," Jonathan Tibus, Krystal's chief restructuring officer, wrote in the filing. The company filed for bankruptcy in Atlanta on Sunday, but the news wasn't widely reported until Tuesday. The 300-restaurant chain, which is popular in the Southeast, was founded in Chattanooga in 1932 and moved its headquarters to Atlanta in 2013. [CNN]