Business

Business News at a Glance

Posted January 16, 2018 9:45 p.m. EST

Update NAFTA, Don’t Scrap It, GM Chief Advises Trump

General Motors’ chief executive urged the Trump administration on Tuesday not to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement and said any changes in the pact should account for the effect on U.S. automakers and workers. “There could be unintended consequences, changes made, that would directly impact jobs in the United States,” GM CEO Mary T. Barra said at an investor conference on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. “NAFTA needs to be modified,” she added, but she rejected the idea that “we need to walk away from it.” President Donald Trump has said that NAFTA should be renegotiated.

Flurry of Lawsuits Fight Repeal of Net Neutrality

The legal fight against the Federal Communications Commission’s recent repeal of so-called net neutrality regulations began Tuesday, with a flurry of lawsuits filed to block the agency’s action. One suit, filed by 21 state attorneys general, said the agency’s actions broke federal law. The commission’s rollback of net neutrality rules were “arbitrary and capricious,” the attorneys general said, and a reversal of the agency’s long-standing policy to prevent internet service providers from blocking or charging websites for faster delivery of content. Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox web browser, said the new FCC rules would harm internet entrepreneurs who could be forced to pay fees.

Poll Finds Upturn in Sentiment on Tax Overhaul and Economy

Americans are warming to the Republican tax law, and becoming more confident in the economy as a whole. They just aren’t sure that President Donald Trump deserves much credit. The tax overhaul that Trump signed into law just before Christmas remains relatively unpopular and highly polarizing, according to a new poll conducted for The New York Times by SurveyMonkey. But support for the law has grown significantly over the past month, and more Americans believe that they will receive a tax cut. Forty-six percent of Americans strongly or somewhat approved of the law in early January, up from 37 percent when the bill was nearing passage in December.

Big Winners From Tax Cut Are Banks Big and Small

The nation’s banks are finding a lot to love about the Trump administration’s tax cuts. The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul signed into law late last year provided deep and lasting tax cuts to all types of businesses, but financial institutions are among the biggest winners so far, reaping benefits from a lower corporate rate and more preferable tax treatment for so-called pass-through companies, which include many small banks. While some of the biggest banks are reporting fourth-quarter earnings hits stemming from the new tax law, they see rich benefits over the long term.

Oil Briefly Reaches $70 as Buoyant Global Economy Bolsters Demand

Tensions in Iran. Cold weather in the United States. A year of production cuts. With 2018 still young, there has been no shortage of reasons oil prices are pushing higher. Prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, have risen nearly 50 percent since June, briefly passing $70 a barrel more than once in the last week. Stockpiles of oil that built up for years are declining. And a buoyant global economy has bolstered demand, meaning prices could go higher still. "The market has entered a new phase,” said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, a research firm in London.

YouTube Adds More Scrutiny to Top-Tier Videos

The decade-plus evolution of YouTube from repository of cat videos and pirated content to potential TV replacement hit a road bump last year when marketers discovered their advertisements were showing up next to extremist videos and other unsavory content. Ever since, YouTube has been scrambling to come up with new policies that give advertisers more control over where their ads go and provide additional assurance that the videos on the online service are better screened. On Tuesday in a blog post, YouTube said it had altered the threshold for which videos can accept advertisements and pledged more human oversight of its top-tier videos.

BP to Take $1.7 Billion Charge Over Deepwater Horizon Spill

The energy giant BP said Tuesday that it expected to take an additional charge of $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter for claims related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The company also said that it now anticipated that cash payments related to the Gulf of Mexico disaster to be about $3 billion this year, up from an estimate issued in the third quarter of more than $2 billion. "With the claims facility’s work very nearly done, we now have better visibility into the remaining liability,” said Brian Gilvary, BP’s chief financial officer.