Business Highlights

Posted October 6


Hurricanes cause rare monthly US job loss but rebound likely

The U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September because of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which closed thousands of businesses in Texas and Florida and forced widespread evacuations. It was the first decline in nearly seven years. The unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent, the lowest level since February 2001.


Trump promises massive tax cut but the poor would get little

President Donald Trump promised Americans "the largest tax cut in our country's history," but there's not much in Trump's plan to help low-income households. One independent analysis says low-income families would save about $60 a year. Another says their incomes would go up less than 1 percent. Congressional Republicans say the critiques are premature because the plan is incomplete.


EPA moves to rescind Obama plan to slow global warming

The Trump administration is moving to repeal the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama's efforts to slow global warming, seeking to ease restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency says in a leaked document that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards power plants could not reasonably meet.


Houston asks oilman to help with hard choices after Harvey

Houston is returning to its roots as an oil town to confront the immediate and long-term crisis created by Hurricane Harvey, tapping a former Shell president as its recovery officer. Marvin Odum, a native Houstonian, faces a challenge in that Houston has long chosen development over conservation, paving over critical wetlands to make way for new buildings. Some advocates wonder whether someone from the city's most powerful interest can get leaders to make better choices for the future.


Birth control: Trump expands opt-out for workplace insurance

The Trump administration is allowing more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections. The administration on Friday issued a long-expected revision to Obama-era rules that require most companies to provide birth control as preventive care for women, at no additional cost. The new rules also allow employers to cover some birth control methods, but not others. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive services are supposed to be free.


Equifax makes money by knowing a lot about you

Equifax knows a lot about you. That, in essence, is how it makes money. The company and its competitors, Experian and TransUnion, make most of their money selling bulk lists to banks and credit card companies.


Ham for a watch: Venezuelans struggle with cash shortages

Venezuelans already struggling to find food, medicine and other basic necessities have a new headache to worry about: shortages of cash. Troubling shortfalls of Venezuelan bolivars are forcing many in this distressed South American nation to gather in long lines outside banks to take out what little cash is available. Others are resorting to bartering goods and services. Venezuela issued new bills in higher denominations earlier this year but their value has dwindled as inflation skyrockets.


Administration calls for easing rules for financial markets

The Trump administration is recommending ways to loosen the rules governing the U.S. stock, bond and derivatives markets, proposing a rollback of a variety of rules adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The 220-page report prepared by the Treasury Department argues that numerous rules enforced by such agencies as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission need to be changed to promote stronger economic growth.


US consumer borrowing rose at a slower pace in August

U.S. consumers increased their borrowing in August at a slower annual pace of 4.2 percent — a slowdown from debt rising at nearly 7 percent for the past three years. The Federal Reserve says that overall consumer credit rose $13.1 billion in August, down from the $17.7 billion gain in July.


Stocks fade from records; S&P 500 breaks winning streak

U.S. stocks faded a bit from their record highs on Friday after telecom and energy stocks sank. The loss for the Standard & Poor's 500 index was small, but it was the first in nearly two weeks.


The S&P 500 fell 2.74 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,549.33. The loss meant the end of the longest winning streak for the index in four years. Roughly nine stocks fell for every five that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1.72, or less than 0.1 percent, to 22,773.67. The Nasdaq composite added 4.82, or 0.1 percent, to 6,590.18. All three indexes had closed at records on Thursday.

Energy stocks were also among the market's weakest after the price of benchmark U.S. crude sank $1.50, or 3 percent, to settle at $49.29 per barrel. It's the fourth drop for oil in the last five days. Brent crude, the international standard, lost $1.38, or 2.4 percent, to $55.62 per barrel.



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