Business Highlights

Posted October 9


Nobel goes to Richard Thaler who made economics human again

The Nobel economics prize has been awarded to Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago for research showing how people's economic choices — whether on savings or game shows like "Deal or No Deal" — are not always rational.


Fake news is still here, despite efforts by Google, Facebook

Months after Facebook and Google launched an offensive against fake news, they're still inadvertently promoting it — often at the worst possible times. Online services designed to engross users aren't so easily retooled to promote greater accuracy, it turns out. Especially with online trolls, pranksters and more malicious types scheming to evade new controls as they're rolled out.


White House to order health care alternatives

President Donald Trump is taking a step toward a long-sought Republican goal of allowing insurance to be sold across state lines. The White House is preparing an executive order that would expand health plans offered by associations to allow individuals to pool together and buy insurance outside their states. Trump sees selling insurance across state lines as a way to foster competition that brings down premiums for people buying their own policies. But experts say that's not guaranteed.


Seeing hope: FDA panel considers gene therapy for blindness

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet Thursday to consider whether to recommend approval of a gene therapy aimed at improving vision for some people with hereditary blindness. It would be the first gene therapy in the U.S. for an inherited disease, and the first in which a corrective gene is given directly to a patient.


Weinstein's company to change its name after his firing

A company insider says the Weinstein Co. is going to change its name in the wake of co-founder Harvey Weinstein's firing over sexual harassment allegations. Meanwhile, some leading members of the Hollywood establishment — including Meryl Streep — are speaking out against him.


Environmental groups denounce Trump override of climate plan

Environmental groups and public health advocates are denouncing a decision by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to sign a rule overriding the Clean Power Plan. That plan was an effort by the Obama administration to limit carbon emissions from power plants that burn coal. In his order Tuesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to declare that the rule broke federal law by setting standards that power plants can't meet. He says he's ending what he calls a "war on coal."


German minister Schaeuble bows out, convictions intact

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who championed austerity as the only way countries like Greece could avoid bankruptcy and continue to use the euro as their currency, is winning plaudits at his final meeting with European peers. Schaeuble, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been a controversial figure at the eurogroup meetings over the past few years, not least because of his insistence on austerity for those countries requiring bailouts.


Trian takes a seat at General Electric

General Electric is naming Trian's Ed Garden to its board, potentially signaling a shift toward becoming the leaner, industrial player that the investment fund has been pushing for years. The company this month has already turned over its top management with the early departure of longtime CEO Jeff Immelt and CFO Jeffrey Bornstein. Shares of General Electric Co. are down 23 percent this year, and Trian is pushing heavily for the company to restructure and revive growth.


Where is the ball? UK and EU exchange volleys over Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May says there is a positive "new dynamic" in Brexit talks, with the U.K. and the European Union nearing agreement on the rights of 4 million citizens whose lives will be affected by the split. May is urging European Union officials to show "leadership and flexibility" in the negotiations, saying "the ball is in their court." But an EU spokesman insists the ball is "entirely in the U.K. court."


Health care and industrial companies lead US stocks lower

Losses for health care companies and banks left U.S. stocks lower Monday after a quiet day of trading. Industrial conglomerate General Electric skidded after announcing more changes in its leadership. Companies that distribute or sell prescription drugs continued to slide following speculation that Amazon plans to get into that business, something the company has not confirmed. Banks dipped after a big rally over the last month and technology companies continued to climb. Smaller, more domestically-focused companies declined as investors tried to gauge the odds for tax cuts.


The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 4.60 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,544.73. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 12.60 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 22,761.07. The Nasdaq composite fell 10.45 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,579.73, which ended a nine-day winning streak. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 6.66 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,503.56.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 29 cents to $49.58 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 17 cents to $55.79 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline stayed at $1.56 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.74 a gallon. Natural gas shed 3 cents to $2.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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