Business Briefs – March 4, 2018

Trump Picks Dow Chemical Lawyer for Key Role At EPA

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump has picked a chemical industry insider to run the Environmental Protection Agency office that oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the nation’s most toxic sites. The White House announced Friday that Mr. Trump has nominated Peter C. Wright to serve as EPA’s assistant administrator for Land and Emergency Management.

Ex-Trump Adviser Carl Icahn Sells Before Steel Tariff News Hits Stock

SAN FRANCISCO& (AP) – Billionaire investor Carl Icahn sold nearly 1 million shares of stock in a company tied to the steel industry leading up to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose costly tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S.

Icahn also has ties to Trump; he was an unpaid adviser to the president before resigning last August.

A recent regulatory filing disclosed Icahn sold $31.3 million worth of stock in crane manufacturer Manitowoc Co. last month. Manitowoc could be hurt by Trump’s tariffs, a threat that caused the company’s shares to drop by 9 percent since the president’s announcement.

‘Trump Slump’ in Gun Sales Continues Despite Control Debate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Gun store owners called it the “Trump slump.” Sales of firearms slowed dramatically after the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016 allayed fears of a Democratic crackdown on gun owners.

That trend has continued in recent weeks even with talk of gun control in Congress and among business leaders following the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at a Florida school.

In the past, gun massacres generally led to an uptick in sales as people worried about the government restricting access. But with Parkland, things are different.

Gun owners apparently have faith that Mr. Trump won’t impose more restrictions, gun show owners say — even with the conflicting messages he has sent in the past week.

Delta CEO Insists “We Are Not Taking Sides” in U.S. Gun Debate

ATLANTA (AP) – Delta Air Lines showed no signs Friday of backing away from a decision to cancel discounts for the National Rifle Association, despite a revenge move by state leaders that deprived the airline of a significant tax break. Atlanta-based Delta released an internal memo CEO Ed Bastian sent to employees that insists the airline’s aim is to stay neutral in the gun debate roiling the country since last month’s deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

J.C. Penney Says It Has Cut Jobs, Offers Muted Outlook

NEW YORK (AP) – Department store chain J.C. Penney said it has cut more than 300 jobs and reported disappointing sales at established stores for the quarter that includes the year-end shopping season. It also delivered a muted outlook, and its shares fell 6 percent. The news overshadowed strong profits as investors worried about Penney’s ability to remake itself in a changing retail market — especially after the good economy contributed to stronger results at chains such as Macy’s.

UK Leader Tries to Ease Concerns Of Banks in Brexit Talks

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to ease bankers’ concerns after she torpedoed one of their biggest demands for Brexit during a speech on the country’s future relationship with the European Union.

The prime minister, in a BBC interview broadcast Sunday, said both sides must recognize the “very important role” that Britain’s financial services industry plays for the EU and the U.K.

That came two days after May rejected calls for a “passporting” agreement, which would let bankers and other professionals work in the EU with their UK qualifications — and vice versa. Such an arrangement would force Britain to accept rules made elsewhere, and that is unacceptable, she said.