The news at a glance
Markets: Health-care failure rattles Wall Street
“Wall Street no longer believes President Trump’s agenda is a slam dunk,” said Matt Egan in CNN.com. The Dow Jones industrial average just suffered its longest losing streak since 2011 as it became clear that the Republicans’ Obamacare replacement bill would go down in a “stunning failure.” Markets finally snapped the eight-day selloff this week after traders began to focus on signals from the White House that tax reform would get the president’s full attention. Stocks have surged since Trump’s election, based on hopes that he will pursue an aggressively pro-business platform of tax cuts and deregulation. But the market’s initial enthusiasm has now turned to jitters.
Even before the collapse of the health-care bill, economists were warning that expectations for Trump’s agenda “had gotten too high,” said Josh Zumbrun in The Wall Street Journal. In a recent survey by the National Association of Business Economics, 70 percent of respondents said they now believe that policy changes under Trump “are unlikely to be substantial enough to justify the stock market run-up.” Plenty of executives and economists still believe that Trump’s agenda could help grow the economy. But after the health-care debacle, investors are being reminded “that stating an agenda and delivering an agenda can be very different things.”
Telecom: Online privacy protections rescinded
Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast could soon have broad leeway to sell their customers’ personal data without permission, said Brian Fung in The Washington Post. The House of Representatives voted this week to wipe away “landmark online privacy protections” created under the Obama administration that limited what companies could do with data such as web-browsing habits, app-usage history, and location. If Trump signs the legislation, which was also passed by the Senate, companies will be able to sell customers’ data directly to marketers and use that information to sell highly targeted ads.
Economy: Consumers feeling upbeat
“U.S. consumer confidence surged to a more than 16-year high in March,” said Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.com. The Conference Board’s closely watched index shot up 9.5 points to 125.6, “the highest reading since December 2000,” buoyed by a strong job market that’s near full employment. More consumers think jobs are plentiful than at any point since 2001, and many are also anticipating an increase in income. Consumer confidence has swelled since President Trump’s victory in November, but the most recent data was taken just before the House of Representatives failed to pass its Obamacare replacement bill.
Airlines: American buys stake in Chinese carrier
American Airlines is set to become the second major U.S. carrier to “buy its way” into China, said Neil Gough in The New York Times. China Southern, the country’s biggest airline, agreed this week to sell a 2.76 percent stake worth $200 million to American Airlines. The deal comes after Delta paid $450 million in 2015 for a 3.55 percent stake in China Eastern Airlines. The deal could help American capture some of the booming air traffic from China to the U.S., which more than doubled between 2010 and 2015.
Entertainment: Movies to get earlier home release
“Hollywood studios are preparing to upend decades of tradition” by letting viewers watch films at home just weeks after they open in theaters, said Ben Fritz in The Wall Street Journal. A compromise between theater owners and studios is reportedly being negotiated to release movies for home viewing within 45 days of their theatrical debut. The release-date issue has long divided studios and cinemas—both of which have found their business models upended by streaming video. By year’s end, films should be available to watch online within weeks of their release for between $30 and $50. ■