The daily business briefing: September 28, 2020

Harold Maass
Trump speaks to reporters
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

1.

Judge blocks Trump from banning TikTok downloads

A federal judge on Sunday blocked the Trump administration from banning U.S. downloads of TikTok, which is owned by China's ByteDance. The ruling by Judge Carl Nichols came hours before the policy was due to take effect. The decision gave ByteDance more time to get the U.S. and China to approve its deal to partner with Oracle and Walmart to form a new company called TikTok Global that would run the short-video app's U.S. operations. President Trump has preliminarily accepted the arrangement, but it still must get formal approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment and from the Chinese government. China has sent mixed signals on the deal, with the editor of an influential Communist Party tabloid praising it while Chinese state media called it "dirty and unfair." [The Wall Street Journal]

2.

The New York Times obtains Trump's tax info dating back 2-plus decades

President Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in the year he was elected, The New York Times reported on Sunday, citing copies it obtained of more than two decades of Trump's tax information. Trump also paid $750 in his first year in the White House, and nothing in 10 of the previous 15 years, according to the Times. The newspaper reported that Trump's businesses are suffering chronic losses and face hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due. He also faces a decade-long audit hinging on the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund he got after reporting massive losses. Trump called the Times' report "totally fake news." "I paid tax," he said. "I've paid a lot, and I've paid a lot of state income taxes, too." [The New York Times, MarketWatch]

3.

New businesses opening at fastest rate in more than a decade

Americans are launching new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade even as hundreds of thousands of small businesses close due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing government data. Applications for the employer identification numbers, which entrepreneurs need to open a business, have exceeded 3.2 million so far in 2020, up from 2.7 million at this point in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New filings by business owners likely to employ others hit 1.1 million through mid-September, up 12 percent from a year earlier. "This pandemic is actually inducing a surge in employer business startups that takes us back to the days before the decline in the Great Recession," said University of Maryland economist John Haltiwanger. [The Wall Street Journal]

4.

Stocks surge after Dow, S&P 500 suffer 4th straight week of losses

U.S. stock index futures surged early Monday coming off Wall Street's fourth straight week of losses. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were all up by more than 1 percent several hours before the opening bell. The Dow and the S&P 500 fell by 1.8 percent and 0.6 percent last week, respectively, marking the first time since August that both indexes had posted four-week losing streaks. The tech-heavy Nasdaq managed a 1 percent gain, its first positive week in a month. Over the summer, tech stocks led Wall Street's recovery from steep coronavirus-induced losses, but they fell sharply recently. Investors have continued to focus on developments in the coronavirus crisis, as the global death toll nears 1 million. [CNBC]

5.

Uber's stock jumps after winning back its London license

Uber shares rose 6 percent in pre-market trading on Monday after the ride-hailing service won back its London operating license. Transport for London refused in 2019 to grant Uber a new license, citing a "pattern of failures," such as letting unauthorized drivers upload their photos to legitimate drivers' accounts. Judge Tan Ikram said he found Uber "to be a fit and proper person" to hold a London private hire vehicle operator's license, "despite their historical failings." The judge said he wanted to hear from rider advocates and others before determining the length of the license. Uber, which was allowed to operate in London pending the appeal, has apologized and argued it had addressed concerns over driver identification and other matters. [Reuters, The Guardian]