Business News at a Glance

Posted December 19, 2017 9:53 p.m. EST
Updated December 19, 2017 9:57 p.m. EST

China Plans Huge Market for Trading Pollution Credits

China is the world’s No. 1 polluter. It burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. On Tuesday, the country set out to claim another title reflecting its ambitions to change all that: keeper of the world’s largest financial market devoted to cleaning up the air. China released plans to start a giant market to trade credits for the right to emit planet-warming greenhouse gases. The nationwide market would initially cover China’s vast, state-dominated power generation sector. If it works as intended, an emissions market will give Chinese power companies a financial incentive to operate more cleanly.

‘Porch Pirates’ Steal Holiday Packages as They Pile Up

Porch pirates have darkened peoples’ doorsteps for years. Law enforcement agencies say they think the crime is on the rise, along with the growth of online shopping. And the rewards are especially attractive during the holiday season. United Parcel Service plans to deliver 750 million packages this season, up from 500 million five years ago. Research commissioned by businesses that make packaging products like boxes and surveillance cameras suggests that from one-fifth to one-third of respondents have had deliveries stolen from their porches. It is yet another sign that the endless capacity of technology to improve lives has led to endless criminal innovation as well.

Lauer-Less ‘Today’ Is a Morning Ratings Winner for a 3rd Week

Life without Matt Lauer is proving to be just fine for NBC and the “Today” show. Last week, NBC’s morning show averaged 4.6 million viewers, good enough to beat “Good Morning America” for the third Lauer-less week in a row. The last time “Today” outdrew “Good Morning America” in total viewers for three straight weeks was during and immediately after the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, shown on NBC. Lauer was fired on Nov. 29 because of allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. With the news ricocheting across social media platforms, a staggering 5.7 million watched “Today” that morning.

A Bitcoin Hedge Fund Has a Return of 25,004 Percent

There are hedge funds with blockbuster returns. Then there is the Pantera Bitcoin Fund. The fund — one of the first in the world to dedicate itself to virtual currencies — released its returns in a letter sent to investors on Tuesday. The figure for the life of the fund, which was set up in 2013, is eye popping: 25,004 percent. A significant portion of the gains have come this year, thanks to the skyrocketing price of an individual bitcoin, which hit $19,000 on Monday. For comparison, the top performing hedge fund in the world last year returned 148 percent.

Microsoft Moves to End Secrecy in Sexual Harassment Claims

The wave of sexual harassment claims has toppled powerful men in entertainment, media and politics. Now, it is also creating permanent changes in workplace policy at one giant technology company. Microsoft, one of the world’s biggest software makers, said Tuesday that it had eliminated forced arbitration agreements with employees who make sexual harassment claims and was also supporting a proposed federal law that would widely ban such agreements. The moves make Microsoft an early company — and certainly the most prominent — to take such steps to end legal agreements that have been criticized for helping to perpetuate sexual abuse in the workplace.

BHP Billiton, Acknowledging Climate Change, to Quit Coal Group

One of the world’s largest coal companies, acknowledging the growing momentum toward addressing climate change, said it planned to pull out of a major industry group over its environmental stances. BHP Billiton, the British-Australian mining company, said in a report Tuesday that it planned to withdraw from the World Coal Association because of differences in climate and energy policies. The report also noted that BHP would review its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in light of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The move highlights the delicate considerations huge mining companies must contend with as they seek to balance profit with environmental awareness.