Business Briefs – January 20, 2016

Anxiety in the Air as World Elite Meets in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – In the couple of hours before Morgan Stanley chief James Gorman sat down Wednesday to speak on a panel in Davos, Switzerland, he had lost some $600,000 on the value of his shares in the bank.

As the world’s richest business leaders and public figures kicked off the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort, a renewed plunge in stock markets and global oil prices clouded the air with anxiety. Gorman is not alone — already this year trillions of dollars have been wiped off the value of shares around the world.

Some participants voiced a high degree of concern over the global economy, saying the recent turbulence in financial markets — which saw the& Dow& plunge over 500 points on Wednesday — was akin to a “meltdown.” Others sought to describe it as a natural adjustment. Not many were upbeat.

Iran’s Big Market Tempts European Firms Despite Hazards

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – With many barriers to dealing with Iran suddenly lifted as part of a nuclear deal, some European companies are ready to seize business opportunities in a tempting market of 78.5 million people.

At first glance, the allure is obvious — Iran is the second-largest economy in the region, the second most populous country and it has infrastructure and vehicles overdue for an upgrade after years of sanctions. But those companies that take the plunge face serious risks from the remaining sanctions, geopolitical uncertainty, red tape and corruption.

Russian Ruble Slides to Record Low in Moscow Trading

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian ruble slid to a record low against the dollar Wednesday under pressure from low oil prices. The ruble traded above 81.8 to the dollar in Moscow on Wednesday evening, down by around four percent. That beat the mark of 80.1 set when the currency crashed in value in December 2014 before stabilizing.

U.S. Treasury Sec: Puerto Rico Needs Congressional Action

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew stressed on Wednesday during a visit to Puerto Rico that congressional action is the only solution to pulling the U.S. territory out of its worsening economic crisis.

He called on Congress to approve a restructuring mechanism to help the island deal with its $72 billion public debt. He also said some kind of oversight authority that respects Puerto Rico’s system of self-government is needed.

Feds Probe Complaints That Ford Focus Doors Won’t Latch

DETROIT (AP) – U.S. auto safety regulators opened an investigation into complaints that doors won’t latch properly on about 400,000 Ford Focus compact cars, including some reports that the doors have opened while the cars are moving.

The probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers Focuses from the 2012 and 2013 model years, according to documents posted Wednesday on the agency’s website.