The daily business briefing: November 22, 2019

Harold Maass

1.

President Trump signed a short-term spending bill on Thursday, avoiding a government shutdown hours before federal funding ran out. The measure will keep government agencies funded through Dec. 20, giving lawmakers a few more weeks to work out a long-term spending deal. Lawmakers now will have to vote on another spending measure just before the Christmas holiday, possibly with an impeachment vote looming. Negotiations got bogged down over Trump's insistence on money to build his promised wall on the Mexican border, the same issue that led to a 35-day partial government shutdown last year. [USA Today]

2.

Struggling shared-office company WeWork said Thursday it was laying off 2,400 employees, nearly 20 percent of its workforce. The money-losing company is restructuring to rebound from problems that forced it to abandon plans to make its stock market debut. WeWork said the job cuts, which began weeks ago, will "create a more efficient organization." The company did not specify what positions it was eliminating, but said the affected employees "are incredibly talented professionals." Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure said the layoffs were in parts of the company that "do not directly support our core business goals." [The Associated Press]

3.

Federal authorities have charged Chinese national Haitao Xiang, 42, with stealing trade secrets for Beijing, the Justice Department said Thursday. Xiang worked for Monsanto and its Climate Corp subsidiary from 2008 to 2017. He was stopped at an airport preparing to board a flight to China with proprietary farming software. He was accused of responding to China's Thousand Talents Plan to recruit scientists. "Xiang promoted himself to the Chinese government based on his experience at Monsanto," Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. "Within a year of being selected as a Talent Plan recruit, he quit his job, bought a one-way ticket to China, and was caught at the airport with a copy of the company’s proprietary algorithm before he could spirit it away." [Reuters]

4.

U.S. stock index futures pushed higher early Friday following three straight days of losses. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by about 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq rose by about 0.3 percent three hours before the start of trading. Stocks have been struggling for footing in the face of uncertainty on efforts to ease the U.S.-China trade war. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that China had invited top U.S. negotiators for fresh talks. On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing wants to make a "phase one" deal. "We did not initiate this trade war," he said, "and this is not something we want." [CNBC, Reuters]

5.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday unveiled the automaker's first electric pickup truck. The vehicle, the Cybertruck, has what Musk described as a "futuristic-like cyberpunk, Blade Runner" design. Tesla plans to offer three versions of the truck. The base model will have a 250-mile range and a price starting at $39,000. It will have a 7,500-pound towing capacity and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds. A dual-motor version will have a range of 300 miles, while a tri-motor option will go 500 miles, with a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds and accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in under 2.9 seconds. Musk got a surprise when he tried to show off the Cybertruck's "armored" glass only to have it shatter. [The Verge, Wired]

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