The daily business briefing: September 29, 2020

1. Democrats on Monday harshly criticized President Trump over a New York Times report that he paid nearly no federal income tax for more than a decade, accusing him of gaming the system to avoid paying his fair share. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) called Trump a “freeloader.” House Speaker Nancy […]

1.

Democrats on Monday harshly criticized President Trump over a New York Times report that he paid nearly no federal income tax for more than a decade, accusing him of gaming the system to avoid paying his fair share. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) called Trump a “freeloader.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted that Trump appeared in the report to be more than $400 million in debt, and said that raised a “national security question” because a foreign lender could have leverage over him. The White House called the Times report a partisan hit job. Trump at first called the report “totally fake news,” then shifted and accused the newspaper of illegally obtaining his financial information. Trump also tweeted that he paid “many millions of dollars in taxes.” Republican lawmakers were largely silent on the report. [Reuters, The New York Times]

2.

U.S. stock index futures fell slightly early Tuesday after surging on Monday. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by less than 0.1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Those of the Nasdaq fell by about 0.2 percent. All three of the main U.S. indexes rose sharply on Monday. The Dow gained 1.5 percent. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped by 1.6 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. The Dow and the S&P 500 are looking to snap four-week losing streaks. Political news could steer markets in the coming days, as President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden head into their first debate on Tuesday, and Democrats discuss their new $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief proposal with the Trump administration, with the two sides hoping to break an impasse. [CNBC]

3.

The federal judge who blocked President Trump’s ban on U.S. downloads of video-sharing app TikTok determined that the Trump administration appeared to be overstepping its authority under national security law. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said in the 18-page ruling, which was made public on Monday, that Trump’s restrictions “likely exceed the lawful bounds” of the 1970s International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Trump invoked the law as part of his push to force China’s ByteDance, owner of TikTok, to shut down its operations or sell its U.S. operations to an American company, citing national security issues. Trump has argued that the Chinese government could access American TikTok users’ data, which Beijing and ByteDance deny. [The Wall Street Journal]

4.

Universal Health Services’ computer system was hit by a ransomware attack over the weekend. Computer systems at the hospital chain’s 400-plus locations reportedly could be out for days. Workers are having to take records by hand and hand-label medications. The incident could turn out to be one of the largest medical cyberattacks in U.S. history. Employees at several UHS facilities, including in California and Florida, reported locked computers and phones. Mysterious messages referencing a “shadow universe,” a term suggesting the involvement of the Russian cybercrime group Ryuk, then started filling screens. The issue did not jeopardize patient care, and “no patient or employee data appears to have been accessed, copied, or otherwise compromised,” the company said in a statement. [NBC News, TechCrunch]

5.

British and European Union negotiators said Monday that major differences remained as they resumed talks on a post-Brexit deal on Monday. The two sides have clashed over a host of issues, including fisheries, fair competition, the Irish border, and new proposed legislation in the United Kingdom that could undermine the earlier agreement. “The U.K.’s positions are far apart from what the EU can accept,” a deputy head of the EU’s executive Commission, Maros Sefcovic, said after talking with Michael Gove, the U.K. minister in charge of the divorce deal. Gove said the controversial clauses that undercut the Withdrawal Treaty will remain in the Internal Market Bill. “We simply want the standard free trade agreement,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. [Reuters]

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