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In today’s edition, U.S.-China trade talks unfold, Carlos Ghosn denies wrongdoing, President Trump tries to blunt the shutdown’s impact, and more.
The U.S. and China started trade talks Monday. Officials from Washington are pressing their Beijing counterparts to devise ways to guarantee China will follow through on its pledges: more Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, increased American access to China’s markets, better protection of U.S. intellectual property and reductions in Beijing’s subsidies to Chinese companies.
China uses its clout to expand its power overseas. A Journal investigation found that Chinese leaders offered in 2016 to help bail out 1MDB, a Malaysian government fund at the center of a multibillion-dollar graft scandal. In return, Malaysia offered stakes in projects for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure program. U.S. national-security officials regard these efforts as Beijing’s most ambitious attempt to leverage the program for geostrategic gain.
“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated allegations.”
— Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, in his first public statement since his arrest
Carlos Ghosn denies wrongdoing. At a hearing in a Tokyo courtroom, his first public appearance since his arrest in November, Nissan’s former chairman delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of accusations that he underreported his compensation.
The White House tries to sway public opinion on the border wall. President Trump will deliver a prime-time speech Tuesday and travel to the U.S. border Thursday, as he seeks to blunt the impact of the partial government shutdown.
Mr. Trump might address the possibility of declaring a national emergency in his speech. He has suggested he could take such a step to fund the wall unilaterally. The action may survive court challenges but could be restricted by Congress.
Tax refunds will be paid. The Trump administration reversed a longstanding policy to enable the IRS to pay refunds in a bid to mitigate the impact in the event that the shutdown continues after tax filing opens later this month.
From reporter Richard Rubin:
The administration’s decision to pay tax refunds dramatically lessens the pain of a prolonged shutdown. Americans—particularly those who file as soon as the IRS starts accepting returns Jan. 28—count on getting those checks to pay down debt or make major purchases. This tax-filing season could still be rocky with unpaid IRS employees and the uncertainty surrounding the new tax law, but the most significant potential political and economic problem is now off the table.
Mortgage rates fall, raising hopes for the housing market. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 4.51%, matching the lowest level in eight months, according to data from Freddie Mac. The decline could give consumers a chance to obtain low rates on loans to purchase or refinance homes after a recent rough patch for the market.
Amazon’s market capitalization at Monday’s close
Amazon claims the market-cap crown for the first time. The retailer surpassed Microsoft as the world’s most valuable public company, signaling the tech industry's enduring market dominance despite several months in which investors pummeled the sector’s shares.
Meanwhile, Samsung is struggling. The global tech bellwether expects a 29% decline in fourth-quarter operating profit, pointing to lackluster memory-chip demand and intensifying competition in the handset business.
Shares of small companies are a bright spot. Companies in the Russell 2000 index of small-capitalization stocks are projected to collectively post double-digit profit gains throughout 2019, as earnings at larger businesses slow.
Broken hearts can lead to fitness breakthroughs.
Paige Harley runs the Antarctica Marathon. PHOTO: JEFF ADAMS/MARATHON TOURS
Paige Harley turned to running as a form of therapy after a divorce, finishing the Antarctica Marathon in March. The Journal spoke with Ms. Harley, a bodybuilder and others about how breakups motivated them to get in shape, try a new sport or train for a previously unthinkable challenge.
What We’re Following
New Deal: SoftBank is scaling back a planned $16 billion investment in shared-office space provider WeWork amid market turbulence and opposition from investment partners. The companies could soon announce a $2 billion deal.
Exit Strategy: National security adviser John Bolton is scheduled to meet with Turkish officials to lay the groundwork for U.S. forces’ exit from Syria.
Voting Rights: Florida’s new amendment that would re-enfranchise about 1.4 million felons is set to take effect. However, some officials argue additional legislation is needed to clarify its terms.
Uber IPO: Dara Khosrowshahi, the ride-hailing startup’s chief executive, said U.S. market turbulence would be unlikely to affect plans for a public listing.
Trending Stories at WSJ.com
Sean Pollard of the Clemson Tigers celebrates winning the college football national championship. PHOTO: THEARON W. HENDERSON/GETTY IMAGES
The Clemson Tigers routed the Alabama Crimson Tide in the college football national championship, 44-16—the Tigers’ second title-game defeat of the Tide in three years. (Read)
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is asking aides to create an itinerary for him to meet voters outside the state as the Democrat considers a 2020 presidential bid. (Read)
Eli Lilly has agreed to buy Loxo Oncology for $8 billion in cash, a deal that expands the drugmaker’s oncology portfolio. (Read)
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s surprise resignation announcement has set up a potential dispute between the U.S. and other member countries over the selection of the development-finance institution’s next leader. (Read)
What Else We’re Reading
A new beverage called Recess is a case study in the meeting point for millennials’ desires for ease, comfort and pleasure. (New York Times)
TriArtisan Capital Advisors is in exclusive talks to acquire Chinese-restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s for as much as $700 million from rival private-equity firm Centerbridge Partners. (Bloomberg)
U.K. car maker Aston Martin has triggered contingency plans to cope with a potentially disorderly Brexit. (Reuters)
Patrick Kennedy from Illinois said: “The market for collecting personal health data is one that presents a massive upside and comes with great responsibility. As tech companies have taught us in the past year, more electronic data is only beneficial to consumers if all of the right cyber safeguards are put into place. That being said, millions of lives could be improved and even saved if this market proves lucrative.”
Deborah Rosser from Massachusetts weighed in: “I do not and would not use products storing data in publicly available media such as the cloud. People should be concerned about health information that may land in the wrong hands....I am in favor of products that track and send specific medical data to one’s physician when there are critical health indicators that need constant monitoring.”
Mark Lindon from Colorado wrote: “The more data that can be collected and analyzed, the better our chances are of preventing and/or curing diseases. The key will be to keep it anonymous so the data reflects my demographics but not my name. Society will benefit in the long run.”