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What's News: Apple Lowers Its Sales Forecast; Democrats Prepare for House Control; Free College Degrees Become a New Hiring Tactic
Here’s what we’re watching as the U.S. business day gets under way:
In a rare move, Apple is lowering its sales forecast. Blaming slowing sales of smartphones and other devices in China, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company now predicts revenue of around $84 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 29, down from its initial projection of between $89 billion and $93 billion.
Global stocks slump. Tech-dominated benchmarks in Asia and Europe have fallen and U.S. futures point to heavy losses this morning following the news.
Border-wall battle drags on. As Democrats prepare to take control of the House later today, President Trump and congressional leaders from both parties showed no sign of progress in resolving the partial government shutdown.
Acting chiefs fill Cabinet meeting. A slew of new faces surrounded Mr. Trump at a Cabinet meeting in which he expounded on a wide range of issues and aired grievances after spending much of the holidays alone in the White House amid a partial government shutdown.
Democrats look to launch anticorruption push. Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected as speaker of the House with two, immediate legislative priorities: ending the partial government shutdown, and passing a government-overhaul package changing campaign-finance rules and government-ethics law.
Investors are betting Fed rates will stay put. Fed-funds futures, which investors use to bet on the direction of Federal Reserve policy, showed an 91% probability that policy makers will finish the year with interest rates at or below their current level—a significant shift in market sentiment.
Businesses ready for a "no-deal" Brexit. With fewer than 100 days before the U.K. is set to leave the European Union, companies on both sides are preparing for the possibility of a "no-deal" scenario, which could leave goods stuck in ports in the U.K. and the EU.
China lands a probe on the "dark side" of the moon. The Chang’e-4 mission’s success makes China the first country to deploy a probe on the far side of the moon, the latest milestone in the country's ambitious space program and a publicity coup for President Xi Jinping.
PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS
Fracking's secret problem. A data analysis of about 16,000 locations operated by 29 of the biggest producers in Texas and North Dakota reveals that many oil wells are yielding less than their owners projected to investors. Such projections can create an "illusory picture."
Trump predicts Romney will fall in line behind him. After fellow Republican Mitt Romney criticized the president’s character in an op-ed article, Mr. Trump said he was surprised and predicted that Utah's senator-elect will soon fall in line and support him.
Colleges are nudging students to decide early. Students receiving these requests aren’t guaranteed an early-decision acceptance, but if they are admitted, they are obligated to pull all other applications. That means they can’t compare different financial-aid packages.
Airports try stall tactic: better bathrooms. LaGuardia, the New York airport that fliers love to hate, thinks it can win travelers over with nicer, larger restrooms—it’s one of many airports figuring out how much it matters, writes the Journal's Scott McCartney.
Insurers resist paying more for their own insurance. Storms, wildfires and other catastrophes damaged U.S. communities, the economy and the insurance industry in 2018. But insurers are pushing back against steep property-reinsurance price rises in recent contract negotiations.
Now hiring, with an attractive new perk: a free college degree. Walt Disney, Discover and Taco Bell are among the high-profile employers sending front-line workers back to school, often paying the cost of tuition, fees, books and other expenses upfront and in full. The companies say the benefits of content and potentially better-trained staff outweigh the costs.
Highlights from our tax coverage
Refund shutdown. The Internal Revenue Service will collect taxes during the federal government shutdown, but won’t issue refunds.
Capital spending’s unremarkable rise. Policymakers predicted a boom in business investment from the 2017 tax legislation, but it hasn’t materialized yet.
Buying high. Like other big companies, Apple has lost billions of dollars plowing its tax-cut savings into repurchasing its own shares.
Seven tips for filing last year’s taxes. Among them: Don’t panic about deduction limits for state and local taxes—and do check your W–2 and other tax forms for errors, the Journal's tax columnist Laura Saunders advises. Also, cryptocurrencies took a beating in 2018—but investors may be able to take some solace in favorable tax treatment.
The world is getting quietly, relentlessly better. Greg Ip says that if you spent 2018 mainlining misery about global warming, inequality, populism or other anxieties, here is some good news: Poverty around the world is plummeting; half the world is now middle class; and illiteracy, disease and deadly violence are receding.
News From Other Sources
U.S. craft distillers say the trade dispute is killing export plans. The fallout of Washington’s tit-for-tat tariffs with Europe continues for many American companies as orders for once-popular goods such as bourbon and rye whiskey dry up.
via the Washington Post
Thousands of 9/11 documents have been hacked. The FBI is investigating the theft of 18,000 insurance and legal documents relating to the attacks on the World Trade Center by a hacker called "The Dark Overlord" who has a long record of holding companies to ransom.
via Financial Times
Breath test for cancer trialing in the U.K. Cancer could be diagnosed with a breathalyser test in future, say scientists. The Breath Biopsy device is designed to detect cancer signs in molecules exhaled by patients.
via Sky News
This Day in History
Jan. 3, 1973
CBS Sells Yankees to Group Led by George Steinbrenner
The Columbia Broadcasting System sold the iconic New York baseball team at a loss, for $10 million in cash, to a 12-man syndicate led by George Steinbrenner. Going on to buy out many of his partners, Steinbrenner eventually owned 70% of the team, retaining it until his death in 2010. During his tenure, the Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 pennants.