The daily business briefing: February 12, 2020

A federal judge approves the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, Powell tells Congress the economy's in a "very good place," and more

T-Mobile and Sprint stores
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

1. Federal judge rules in favor of T-Mobile and Sprint merger

A federal judge on Tuesday approved the proposed $26 billion T-Mobile and Sprint merger. The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission last year signed off on combining the third and fourth largest wireless carriers in the U.S., but the deal faced a lawsuit from state attorneys general. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) last year called the merger "exactly the sort of consumer-harming, job-killing mega merger our antitrust laws were designed to prevent." On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero ruled that the merger wasn't likely to "substantially lessen competition." The companies say they need to join forces to compete and deliver new 5G service. The California Public Utilities Commission will still need to approve the merger.

The Washington Post

2. Fed chair tells Congress economy 'in a very good place'

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the economy is "in a very good place." Powell added that there was "no reason" that the nation's record long economic expansion of 11 years and counting should not continue. He warned, however, that the coronavirus epidemic centered in China will affect the world's second largest economy, its neighbors, and trading partners. There will "very likely be some effects on the United States," he said. Powell also repeated the Fed view that its current target range for its benchmark short-term interest rate of 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent is "appropriate."

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3. Stock futures rise as China reports slower coronavirus spread

U.S. stock index futures made solid gains early Wednesday, pointing to a higher open following Tuesday's record closing highs for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by 0.3 percent or more several hours before the start of trading. European indexes rose on Wednesday, with some nearing record highs as reports of a second straight day with fewer new coronavirus infections in China eased concerns about economic fallout from the epidemic, although 97 more deaths brought the total to more than 1,100. "Market sentiment is being significantly boosted as most investors and analysts now expect the impact of the deadly flu on economies to be short-lived and contained," said Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades.

CNBC MarketWatch

4. Nissan sues Ghosn seeking $91 million in damages

Nissan said Wednesday it had filed a civil lawsuit in Japan seeking $91 million from former chairman Carlos Ghosn, whom it has accused of financial misconduct. The automaker also said it expected its requested damages to "increase in future" if it faces fines over Ghosn's actions. Ghosn fled to Lebanon in December before his scheduled trial in Japan on charges that he underreported his salary and misused the company's funds. He says he did nothing wrong. Nissan, Japan's No. 2 automaker, also said it might file another legal action over what it called "groundless and defamatory" criticism Ghosn made during a Beirut news conference last month.


5. U.S. official: Coronavirus could hamper China push to buy more U.S. farm goods

China's coronavirus outbreak could limit its ability to meet its commitment to buy more U.S. agricultural products under its "phase one" trade deal with the United States, White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Tuesday. "We expect the Phase 1 deal will allow China to import more food and open those markets to American farmers, but certainly as we watch this coronavirus outbreak unfold in China it could have an impact on how big, at least in this current year, the purchases are," O'Brien said at an Atlantic Council event. China agreed to increase its purchase of U.S. farm goods by $40 billion over two years under the deal, signed Jan. 15.


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