Meanwhile, inflation in Britain fell to its lowest level in nearly two years in December, mainly due to lower oil costs. Consumer prices expanded 2.1%, from 2.3% the previous month, providing households some relief at a time of U.K. economic uncertainty. Inflation has been high since the Brexit referendum in 2016, which prompted a sharp fall in the pound that raised the cost of imports.
Billed as the “Grand Debate,” the government of Emmanuel Macron has kicked off a campaign to channel the anger of the “yellow vest” protest movement and shield the president’s economic agenda. French citizens will be able to participate in town hall-style discussions, while mayors will provide organizers with economic and statistical talking points. By March 1, the project will shift to regional debates involving randomly selected citizens.
The cost of the partial government shutdown has essentially doubled, according to new reported White House estimates. “The Trump administration had initially estimated the shutdown would cost the economy 0.1 percentage point in growth every two weeks that employees were without pay, but updated figures suggest it is now costing 0.13 percentage points each week.
Under consideration to head the World Bank is former PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi, Treasury Department official David Malpass and Overseas Private Investment Corp. CEO Ray Washburne. The trio of names surfaced a day after Ivanka Trump was said to be helping lead the search. The U.S., which has a controlling voting interest in the World Bank, has traditionally chosen the institution’s leader since it began operations in 1946.
Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert has prevailed in a bankruptcy auction for the 126-year-old retailer with an improved takeover bid of roughly $5.2B, according to Reuters. The proposal, made through his hedge fund ESL Investments, will save up to 45,000 jobs and keep 425 Sears (OTCPK:SHLDQ) stores open across the U.S. There still remains a chance the deal could fall apart, as it must be documented and approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge.
Besides its patent war with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is battling the Federal Trade Commission. The agency has presented its last witnesses and evidence in its case against the company, which it believes has a monopoly on modem chips by forcing customers to work with it exclusively and charging excessive licensing fees for its technology. Qualcomm will defend itself in the coming days against the claims.
Snap shares are down 11% premarket after CFO Tim Stone announced his resignation, less than a year after assuming charge, in the latest top-level exit. Former SNAP Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan and VP of Content Nick Bell left the company in September and November. Stone’s last day is undetermined, and he’ll serve in the meantime to help search for a replacement and effect a smooth transition.
Apple news roundup: Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is expanding its partnership with Apple Music (AAPL), offering the streaming service as a built-in inclusion in its Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans. New reports also suggest Apple replaced as many as 11M iPhone batteries following its throttling debacle (nearly 10x the standard rate of battery replacements) and may have also discontinued its autonomous vehicle program.
There’s a new blockchain venture going on in the Congo that ensures cobalt is sourced without human rights abuses. Ford (NYSE:F) initiated the project with IBM (NYSE:IBM), LG Chem (OTCPK:LGCLF) and China’s Huayou Cobalt to ensure the mineral used in lithium-ion batteries has not been mined by children or used to fuel conflict. The typical electric car battery requires up to 20 pounds of cobalt, and by 2026, demand for cobalt is expected to multiply eightfold.
Another major blockchain venture is getting a boost as oil majors Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Total (NYSE:TOT), along with major Indian refiner Reliance Industries, join London-based platform Vakt. Instead of a mountain of paperwork, Vakt digitizes and centralizes cargo post-trade processes. The firm was created in 2017 by a consortium that includes BP, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B), Norway’s Equinor (NYSE:EQNR) and energy trading firms.
Losing support… The French government is moving to dismiss Renault (OTCPK:RNLSY) CEO Carlos Ghosn and has requested a board meeting for Jan. 20 to consider candidates to replace him, sources told Reuters. Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) is also planning to file a civil suit against Ghosn to claim damages resulting from the alleged misuse of company funds, adding to the high-profile executive’s legal headaches.
U.S. authorities have charged a Ukrainian named Oleksandr Ieremenko and his associates with scheming to trade on market-moving corporate earnings news and netting $4.14M in illegal profits. The case relates to a suspected intrusion into EDGAR, the SEC’s corporate filing system. First revealed in September 2017, the breach was an embarrassment to the agency, which itself has punished companies over how they handled hacks of their systems.
Called the Adapt BB and priced at $350, Nike (NYSE:NKE) has unveiled the first self-lacing smart basketball shoe. “Over the course of a basketball game, the foot can expand almost a half-size during play,” the company wrote in a press release. Besides the power lacing system called FitAdapt, Nike intends for the sneakers to provide data and smart insights into athletes’ workouts.
After months in court, a Delaware judge has ruled that Papa John’s (NASDAQ:PZZA) must turn over internal documents to its founder John Schnatter. The latter argues the files prove the company was mismanaged and that he had been improperly pushed out of his executive roles. Papa John’s shares have fallen more than 30% over the past year, but the stock is up nearly 7% since the start of 2019.
Citing a procedural error, the European Court of Justice has annulled a 2013 European Commission decision that blocked UPS’s (NYSE:UPS) planned acquisition of Dutch peer TNT Express. As a result of the veto, U.S. rival FedEx (NYSE:FDX) scooped up TNT for €4.4B in 2016. The new ruling opens the way for the world’s largest delivery company to sue EU regulators for damages, which may total €1.74B.