Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Dec 20, 2017 5:35 PM

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Trump celebrates after Congress wraps up massive tax package

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump cheered a massive overhaul of U.S. tax laws Wednesday, saying "we broke every record." Flanked by Republican lawmakers, the president took a bow outside the White House shortly after the House finished its last-minute re-vote to pass the $1.5 trillion bill that provides generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans while providing smaller cuts for middle- and low-income families. Democrats call the legislation a boon to the rich that leaves middle-class and working Americans behind.

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Risk for middle class: That GOP tax cuts could fade away

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican tax plan bestows an initial infusion of cash on nearly every taxpayer next year. That extra income is likely to please millions of households, support consumer spending and perhaps give the economy a lift. But over the next several years, multiple analyses have found, those tax cuts will gradually fade — and then morph into tax hikes for a majority of people who are solidly middle class.

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Trump orders boost in production of critical minerals

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is ordering the government to boost production of critical minerals used for manufacturing everything from smartphones to wind turbines and cars. An executive order to be issued Wednesday directs federal agencies to find ways to increase exploration, mining and processing of critical minerals and streamline permits for private mining companies. Trump calls U.S. reliance on foreign minerals a national security risk.

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After net neutrality: Brace for internet 'fast lanes'

NEW YORK (AP) — Now that federal telecom regulators have repealed net neutrality, it may be time to brace for the arrival of internet "fast lanes" and "slow lanes." The Associated Press queried seven major internet providers about their post-net-neutrality plans, and all of them equivocated when asked if they might establish fast and slow lanes. None of the seven companies — Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Sprint and T-Mobile — would rule out the possibility.

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Congress deals 2 blows to 'Obamacare'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is dealing two blows to President Barack Obama's health care law. In one, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Tennessee's Lamar Alexander say they've abandoned their effort to force a year-end budget bill to restore federal payments to insurers that have helped contain premium costs. In the other, the GOP tax bill ends penalties that prod healthy people to buy insurance.

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Big vs. boutique: Battle brews in California weed business

ADELANTO, Calif. (AP) — California has long been known for its boutique marijuana market, producing world-famous buds on small plots in the so-called Emerald Triangle, north of San Francisco. But with broad legalization starting Jan. 1, the state is seeing more companies with big, all-in-one pot operations that include farms, laboratories and factories. Some fear corporate-level businesses will eventually doom mom-and-pop growers and sellers, much as Big Tobacco dominated its market.

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New blow for Uber: Top EU court likens it to taxi service

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ride-hailing service Uber has suffered a new blow as the European Union's top court ruled that it should be regulated like a taxi company and not a technology service, a decision that crimps its activities around Europe and could weigh on other app-based companies too. Taxi drivers have honked in celebration while Uber — which is wrapping up a particularly punishing year — sought to play down the ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

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Students defrauded by for-profits may not get full relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Education Department is abandoning the Obama administration's practice of fully wiping out the student loans of those who had been defrauded by for-profit colleges and will start granting some students only partial loan relief. Under President Barack Obama, tens of thousands of students deceived by now-defunct for-profit schools had over $550 million in loans canceled in full. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Wednesday that process was not fair to students or taxpayers.

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US stock indexes turn mostly lower in afternoon trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are mostly lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street after bouncing around for much of the day. Health care companies fell the most. Small-company stocks, which stand to benefit most from lower corporate tax rates, rose after Congress passed the Republican-sponsored tax bill. FedEx jumped after raising its annual profit forecast and saying the tax legislation would send its profits higher.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2.22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,679.25. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,726.65. The Nasdaq composite slid 2.89 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 6,960.96. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 3.33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,540.08.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 53 cents to $58.09 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 76 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $64.56 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.74 a gallon. Heating oil stayed at $1.94 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6 cents to $2.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.