December 21, 2017 / 1:33 PM / in 2 months

Thursday Morning Briefing

Apple wins big with U.S. tax bill, shots fired at DMZ as North Korean soldier defects to South and a Reuters special report reveals how Philip Morris is selling regulators on its new smoking device.

U.S. tax bill

As corporate America celebrates one of the biggest-ever cuts to its tax bill, one corner of Wall Street is fretting over the impact the reforms will have on its ability to profitably invest in companies.

Democratic-leaning states may take legal action to challenge the cap on deductions of state and local taxes, and even though such lawsuits would face long odds they could help galvanize Democrats for next year’s mid-term election.

The tax overhaul will allow Apple to bring back its $252.3 billion foreign cash pile without a major tax hit - a long-standing company goal.

Reuters TV: Republicans celebrate the passage of their landmark tax bill.

Special Report

The Philip Morris Files: How the world's largest tobacco company is selling regulators on its hot new smoking device. 

World

South Korean guards fired warning shots across the heavily militarized border with North Korea as a soldier from the North defected in thick fog, complicating efforts to ease tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

An Australian man  drove a car into Christmas shoppers in the city of Melbourne, injuring over a dozen people. Police said they did not believe the attack was terror-related.

Catalans flocked to the polls for an election that could strip pro-independence parties of absolute control of the region’s parliament, though prospects of it ending the country’s worst political crisis in decades appear slim.

Two Reuters reporters arrested in Myanmar had not passed any information to the United Nations, the world body said, rejecting a report published in domestic media which suggested that could be the reason for their detention.

President Tayyip Erdogan told the United States that it could not buy Turkey’s support in a vote at the United Nations on Jerusalem, and said he hoped the world would teach Washington a lesson.

British Prime Minister Theresa May forced her most senior minister, Damian Green, to resign for lying about whether he knew pornography had been found on computers in his parliamentary office.

A snowboarder walks on the Peak Walk bridge at Glacier 3000 in Les Diablerets, Switzerland December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Business

OPEC has started working on plans for an exit strategy from its deal to cut supplies with non-member producers, two OPEC sources said, a sign that an eventual winding down of the deal is coming onto producers’ radar, at least in theory.

Swiss financial watchdog FINMA said the Swiss subsidiary of  JPMorgan had committed serious anti-money laundering breaches in relation to Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

The BNY Mellon has frozen $22 billion in assets held by Kazakhstan’s National Fund over a lawsuit launched by Moldovan businessman Anatolie Stati and his companies against the Kazakh government, a source familiar with the case said.

As Toys “R” Us aims to exit bankruptcy in 2018 after defaulting on its debt last September, its efforts to reinvent its stores with play labs will shape how other retailers look to experiential shopping to tackle e-commerce.

Just a street away from Singapore’s central bank, a cryptocurrency firm has set up what it claims is the first cafe in the city-state to be owned and operated by a business promoting its own digital coin.

Kobe Steel, at the centre of a data-falsification scandal that has shaken Japan’s manufacturing industry, admitted for the first time that executives were aware of the cheating, and reassigned three senior officials.

Commentary

Macron steers France to a new Middle East role.

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