Seattle Votes on Large-Company Tax, and Oil Companies Go on Trial

Posted May 13, 2018 4:54 p.m. EDT

Seattle to Vote on Tax on Big Employers

The City Council of Seattle is expected to vote Monday on a proposal to raise $75 million a year to finance affordable housing and services for the homeless by taxing Amazon and other large employers. The plan appears to have enough votes to pass, but it isn’t clear whether it could survive a veto by the city’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, who has expressed reservations about it. The council on Friday rejected a proposal for a smaller tax that the mayor had backed.


Trial Set for 2 of the World’s Largest Oil Companies

Two of the world’s largest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni of Italy, are expected to go on trial on Monday in Milan. Prosecutors are bringing corruption charges over a $1.3 billion oil deal in Nigeria. The defendants include current and former oil executives, among them Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s chief executive, who has the backing of his board despite his legal troubles. The case revolves around a payment the companies made in 2011 to the Nigerian government to settle a dispute over an offshore oil tract in the Atlantic Ocean known as OPL 245. The companies have consistently denied wrongdoing, but the case may shine a light on the sometimes murky dealings of the international oil industry. The proceedings, which are expected to last for months, may be delayed after initial procedures.


Talks Coming Up on Tariffs on Chinese Goods

Supporters and opponents of the Trump administration’s plan to place tariffs on roughly $50 billion of goods imported from China will gather in Washington on Tuesday to make their case in three days of hearings before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The Chinese government may also send an envoy to talk separately with administration officials about trade tensions between the countries, which have the world’s two largest economies. Chinese officials have confirmed that Vice Premier Liu He has accepted an invitation from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to travel to the United States. White House officials have said the visit may take place this week, though plans are not final.


Data Expected on April Retail Sales

The Census Bureau will report April’s retail sales Tuesday. The measure will be watched closely as investors and economists look for signs that consumer prices are rising and putting pressure on spending. March sales rose slightly from the previous month.


European Officials to Discuss Economic Sanctions on Iran

President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and other heads of government in the European Union will meet for dinner Wednesday in Sofia, Bulgaria, to discuss topics that are likely to include President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate economic sanctions against Iran. The EU has said it will not join in the sanctions as long as Iran adheres to the terms of the treaty restricting its nuclear program. But European companies who do business in the United States will face pressure to cut ties with Iran, a concern for EU leaders who do not want Trump to determine where their corporations do business.


E-Commerce Sales are Next Test for Walmart

When Walmart reports its first-quarter earnings Thursday, the biggest question for investors will be whether the company can accelerate its e-commerce sales growth after a slowdown late last year. The retailer is also revamping its international strategy, capped by last week’s announcement that it was taking control of Flipkart, the leading e-commerce site in India, for $16 billion.