December 20, 2017 / 1:23 PM / 8 months ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

U.S. House to vote again on tax bill to give final approval to a sweeping tax bill, Georgia’s governor race tests Democrats’ future and Bitcoin fell more than 10 percent.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) stands in an elevator as he arrives for a nomination vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Washington

The Republican-led U.S. Senate approved a sweeping, $1.5-trillion tax bill in the small hours of Wednesday morning, moving their party and President Donald Trump a step closer to the largest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years.

Wealthy business owners, such as President Donald Trump, stand to gain from a provision in the Republican tax bill that creates a valuable deduction for owners of pass-through businesses, Democrats and some tax experts say.

Eight months into his lifetime U.S. Supreme Court appointment, Neil Gorsuch has given every indication through his votes in key cases and remarks from the bench he will be a stalwart of the conservative legal agenda, as President Donald Trump promised.

ReutersTV: In Georgia, the battle of the "Staceys" tests Democrats' future.

World

Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign in 2002 as archbishop of Boston over a sex-abuse scandal after a two-decade reign as one of the highest-ranking Catholic officials in the United States, has died, news media said.

A spokesman for Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said he had been informed that the police had almost completed their investigation of two arrested Reuters journalists, after which a court case against them would begin.

Back from Brussels with a hard-fought Brexit deal, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote an open letter to the three million citizens of other European Union states living in Britain.

Any delay in joint military drills with the United States would depend on North Korea’s behavior during the 2018 Winter Olympics, officials in Seoul said, while a halt to group tours from China suggested Beijing is still wary.

French president Emmanuel Macron’s popularity jumped back above 50 percent thanks in part to better ratings among the young and the working class, an opinion poll showed, confirming a rebound that started at the beginning of December.

A cow is transported by a helicopter after a mudslide in Villa Santa Lucia, Chile, December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Alvaro Vidal

Special Report

THE PHILIP MORRIS FILES: Scientists describe problems in Philip Morris e-cigarette experiments

Business

World stock markets wavered just below recent record highs while U.S. Treasury yields held near multi-month peaks as the final procedural throes of long-awaited U.S. tax reform played out in Washington.

Bitcoin fell more than 10 percent on Wednesday to a one-week low of $15,800 at cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp BTC=BTSP, losing almost one- fifth of its value from a peak hit just three days ago.

France’s competition authority fined U.S. healthcare group Johnson & Johnson 25 million euros ($29.62 million) after it found the company had deliberately slowed market access to generic copies of its painkiller Durogesic.

Japan’s Subaru, already smarting from a vehicle inspection scandal at home, said it was now investigating whether mileage readings may have also been falsified during final checks, driving its shares down as much as 8 percent.

Ride-hailing app Uber provides a transport service and can be regulated like traditional taxis, the European Union’s top court said in a landmark ruling that will determine the rules Uber and peers have to respect in Europe.

Several current and former KPMG partners are facing contempt proceedings in a Hong Kong court, as liquidators for a failed U.S.-listed Chinese company step up their action against the auditor over its refusal to produce Chinese working papers.

U.S. investment firm Blackstone said it had clinched an all cash deal to buy real estate specialist Taliesin Property Fund in its latest push into European real estate.

Hedge Fund Knight Vinke has taken a 5.02 percent stake in Uniper, adding it would not tender that stake to Finland’s Fortum as part of its 8.05 billion euro ($9.54 billion) takeover offer that runs until Jan. 16, 2018.

One of Russia’s biggest oil companies, Tatneft, has been doing business in Crimea despite the risk of being placed on a U.S. sanctions blacklist, according to company documents and a source close to Tatneft.

An Italian judge has ordered oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Eni to stand trial over alleged corruption in Nigeria with the CEO of Eni among past and present managers involved, legal sources said.

Breakingviews - Bitcoin finds unlikely ally in Asian watchdogs.

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