Business Briefs – December 10, 2017

2 Questions Loom Over House-Senate Talks on GOP Tax Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two looming questions threaten to snag the seemingly smooth trajectory of the Republicans’ massive tax legislation now in its final leg in Congress. How to satisfy demands of the rebellious GOP lawmakers from high-tax states who demand concessions over a cherished deduction? And how to pay for those concessions? About two dozen House and Senate lawmakers begin formal talks next week to iron out differences between the two bills.

UK, EU Hail Brexit Breakthrough Despite Unresolved Questions

BRUSSELS (AP) – Britain and the European Union are hailing a breakthrough that allows them to begin talks on their post-Brexit relations without answering some key questions about how their divorce will play out. With pressure building on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s fragile government, the sides agreed Friday on the last sticking point in Britain’s divorce terms: the border between EU member Ireland and the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland.

Bought a $450M Painting? In NY, Don’t Worry About the Tax

NEW YORK (AP) – New York collects sales tax on even the smallest items, but it probably won’t collect a cent in taxes on a nearly half billion dollar painting by Leonardo da Vinci. That’s because the state’s laws are structured so that out-of-town buyers don’t get hit with big tax bills. One expert says if the city taxes them its status as a global center for art sales might be jeopardized.

Trump Says Fines for Wells Fargo Will Not Be Dropped

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump weighed in on an investigation into scandal-plagued Wells Fargo, tweeting Friday that fines and penalties against the bank would not be dropped, and may actually be “substantially increased.” Mr. Trump’s statement comes a day after a report that Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was weighing whether the bank should have to pay tens of millions in fines already levied against it for mortgage lending abuses.

Japan Economy Gains Momentum, Grows 2.5 Percent in July-Sept

TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s economy is gaining momentum, expanding at a 2.5 percent annual pace in July-September. The figure reported Friday was revised upward from an earlier estimate of 1.4 percent growth due to higher business investment and rising inventories. In quarterly terms the world’s third-largest economy expanded at a 0.6 percent pace, twice the original estimate.

Drug Companies Sue to Block California Drug Price Law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Pharmaceutical companies on Friday sued to block a new California law that would require them to give advance notice before big price increases.

The law was approved this year in response to consumer outrage over a rise in drug spending and high costs for some prescription treatments, including new Hepatitis C medications and EpiPens to control allergic reactions.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group for drugmakers, said in its lawsuit that California’s law illegally tries to dictate national health policy. Because the law is tied to a national measure of drug prices, PhRMA argues that California’s advance notification requirement could restrict drugmakers’ ability to raise prices in other states.

Tyson Foods Increases Investment In Meatless Meat Company

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) – One of the world’s largest meat producers has raised its investment in a company that makes meatless meat.

Tyson Foods had previously had a 5 percent stake in the protein producer Beyond Meat, and said in a statement that it had made an additional investment.

Justin Whitmore, Tyson’s chief sustainability officer, said global demand for all types of protein remains high and that the investment helps give consumers an alternative.

Beyond Meat says a recent fundraising campaign will help it increase production and fund additional research. Tyson started a venture capital fund last year with the goal of helping “promising entrepreneurial food businesses.”