Business Briefs – January 14, 2018

Fiat Chrysler Recalls Minivans For Engine Stalling Problem

DETROIT (AP) – Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 160,000 minivans mainly in North America to fix a software problem that can make engines stall. The recall covers certain Chrysler Pacifica vans from the 2017 model year with gasoline engines. The company says that under rare conditions, the engine control computer can incorrectly determine the operating status and cause the engine to shut off. Fiat Chrysler says it knows of one potentially related crash but no injuries caused by the problem.

Bank Execs Sing Praises of New Tax Law as Windfall Looms

NEW YORK (AP) – Two of the nation’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — are indicating they expect to see significant future benefits from the recently enacted GOP tax bill, through both lower taxes and increased business. Banks have regularly paid effective tax rates of 30 percent or more. JPMorgan said Friday that it now expects its effective corporate tax rate to be roughly 20 percent, while Wells estimates 19 percent.

Some Utility Rates Could Go Down After U.S. Corporate Tax Cuts

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Public utility regulators nationwide are considering lowering the rates consumers pay for electricity and natural gas after a federal tax overhaul reduced the corporate income tax rate by 14 percent. The law lowers the highest corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. It went into effect Jan. 1. Regulators and consumer groups such as AARP are demanding that the rates be rolled back.

Cybersecurity Firm: U.S. Senate In Russian Hackers’ Crosshairs

PARIS (AP) – The same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate, a cybersecurity firm said on Friday.

The revelation suggests that the group often nicknamed Fancy Bear, whose hacking campaign scrambled the 2016 U.S. electoral contest, is still busy trying to gather the emails of America’s political elite.

“They’re still very active — in making preparations at least — to influence public opinion again,” said Feike Hacquebord, a security researcher at Trend Micro Inc., which published the report. “They are looking for information they might leak later.”

The Senate Sergeant at Arms office, which is responsible for the upper house’s security, declined to comment.

Despite End-of-the-Year Season, Retailers Face Challenges in 2018

NEW YORK (AP) – Even with a much better-than-expected end-of-the-year season behind them, retailers face plenty of challenges ahead in 2018. Stores trying to hold their own against an expanding Amazon will have to keep sprucing up their locations and investing in the quick delivery that shoppers want. Those kinds of moves may bite into their profits, but they’ll save money from tax changes.

Supreme Court to Hear Sales Tax Collection Case

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has agreed to wade into the issue of sales tax collection on internet purchases in a case that could force people to pay more for some things and let states recoup what they say is billions in lost revenue. Under previous Supreme Court rulings, when internet retailers don’t have a physical presence in a state, they can’t be forced to collect taxes on sales into that state.

Investors Cheer German Deal, But Some Bemoan Lack of Vision

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Hopes for a new government in Germany sent the euro and markets higher Friday on relief that the Europe’s biggest economy might soon get stable leadership. But it left some economists and business lobbyists saying it offers too little to support the country’s prosperity over the longer term.