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The daily business briefing: September 16, 2020


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that the House would remain in session as long as it takes for lawmakers to deliver a new coronavirus relief package before the November election. Democrats have rejected a "skinny" $600 billion relief bill proposed by Senate Republicans, but Pelosi has signaled willingness to settle for less than the $2.4 trillion Democrats were offering as a compromise after initially proposing more. A bipartisan House group called the Problem Solvers Caucus unveiled a package that would cost about $1.5 trillion to break a month-long impasse in talks between the White House and leading Democrats. The plan was attacked by both conservatives and liberals, but the group's Democratic co-chair, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), said it was just a framework to "get the negotiators back to the table." [Reuters, The Hill]


The Democrat-controlled House Transportation Committee on Wednesday released a report harshly criticizing Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to spot and fix design flaws blamed for two Boeing 737 Max jet crashes that killed 346 people. The scathing 246-page report said the crashes were the "horrific culmination" of inadequate oversight and Boeing's failure to address known problems. Boeing and the FAA have said the certification of the now-grounded jets complied with FAA regulations. The committee's staff wrote in the report that the fact that a compliant aircraft was involved in two catastrophic crashes within five months showed "that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired." "Obviously the system is inadequate," said the committee's chair, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). "We will be adopting significant reforms." [The Associated Press]


The Justice Department is investigating allegations that electric-truck startup Nikola Corp. misled investors by exaggerating its progress toward developing key technology. U.S. securities regulators are already conducting an inquiry into the company, which listed publicly in June. Nikola declined to comment, saying, "When we have something to disclose, we will." Short seller Hindenburg Research last week called Nikola an "intricate fraud," saying its leaders repeatedly overstated the company's technology. Nikola has called the Hindenburg report false, but since it came out, the company has lost more than 20 percent of its value, including an 8 percent stock drop on Tuesday. [The Wall Street Journal, CNN]


U.S. stock index futures rose early Wednesday, adding to Tuesday's gains as investors waited for comments from the Federal Reserve when it ends a policy meeting later in the day. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by about 0.5 percent. Market sentiment got a lift after trading closed Tuesday from better-than-expected earnings reports posted by Adobe and FedEx. The shipping company reported a blowout quarter thanks to the e-commerce boom in the coronavirus crisis. Its shares jumped by more than 9 percent in extended trading. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq surged by 1.2 percent as big tech companies continued to rebound from last week's dive. The Dow finished the day flat. [CNBC]


The World Trade Organization on Tuesday ruled that some of the United States' tariffs on Chinese goods broke international trade rules. The WTO backed China in a complaint it filed in 2018 accusing the Trump administration of violating WTO rules by singling out China with tariffs that were stiffer than those imposed on other countries. The WTO allows limited reasons that can justify tariffs hitting just one country, and the WTO said the U.S. tariffs didn't qualify. President Trump's top trade adviser, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said the WTO was showing once again that it is "completely inadequate to stop China's harmful technology practices." China's Ministry of Commerce said the WTO ruling was "fair and objective," and the U.S. should comply. [The Wall Street Journal]

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