January 3, 2019 / 1:32 PM / a month ago

Thursday Morning Briefing

Democrats to push shutdown halt that Trump is unlikely to accept, Apple bombshell sends investors to safe havens and China ‘lifts mysterious veil’ by landing probe on the far side of the moon. Catch up on the latest headlines with today’s briefing.

 Politics

“We’re asking the president to open up government,” Nancy Pelosi told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday after another unproductive meeting with President Donald Trump on the matter. In their first action in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats plan to adopt a bill on Thursday to end a federal shutdown without funding a Mexican border wall, trying to firmly fasten blame for the 13-day-old closure on Trump and his Republicans.

Senate panel sets confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee. If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Attorney General nominee William Barr would take over from Matthew Whitaker, who has been serving as acting attorney general since Trump forced out Jeff Sessions in November. The Senate Judiciary Committee said on Wednesday it would hold confirmation hearings on Jan. 15 and 16.

Patrick Shanahan was thrust into the spotlight during his debut as acting U.S. defense secretary, sitting next to President Trump as he publicly disparaged Shanahan’s predecessor, lampooned the war in Afghanistan and called Syria a land of “sand” and “death.”

Apple

Apple took the rare step of cutting its quarterly sales forecast, with Chief Executive Tim Cook blaming slowing iPhone sales in China, whose economy has been dragged down by uncertainty around U.S.-China trade relations. Apples shares tumbled in after-hours trade and those listed in Frankfurt were down 8.6 percent in early European deals. The company's warning on Wednesday about weak iPhone demand in the holiday quarter is a gloomy omen for Wall Street bulls hoping for an early gift in 2019 following December’s steep selloff.

Shanghai student Xu Yechuyi wanted to buy a new iPhone last year but couldn’t afford one at Apple’s flagship store, so she opted for a used, three-year-old iPhone 6S at less than a third of the sticker price. “I think there is real demand for this sort of second-hand market from less affluent consumers like me,” said Xu. The second-hand trend adds to challenges Apple faces in the world’s biggest smartphone market.

Commentary

U.S. and Chinese disputes over tariffs and trade are rattling markets, businesses, governments, consumers and workers across the globe. This uncertainty was entirely predictable, writes Scott Mulhauser, the founder of Aperture Strategies, the former chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and a former senior advisor to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

World

A Long March-3B rocket carrying Chang'e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, China December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The Chang’e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, has landed, transmitting the first-ever “close range” image of the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration said. “It’s an important milestone for China’s space exploration,” Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar exploration program, said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

A North Korean diplomat who was until recently acting ambassador to Italy has gone missing, a South Korean member of parliament said, after a South Korean newspaper reported he was seeking asylum in the West.

A Saudi prosecutor has asked for the death penalty for five of 11 suspects held over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, the state news agency SPA reported.

Sports

Special Report: A Chinese billionaire and soccer super-agent Jorge Mendes said they would create an agency to help turn China’s soaring interest in soccer into lucrative marketing contracts for players. But that was only half their plan - read the full Reuters investigation.

Tennis champion Serena Williams will star in a year-long marketing campaign for the Bumble social networking app that will kick off with a message of women’s empowerment during the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, Williams told Reuters in an interview.

Business

Cancer drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb said it would buy Celgene for about $74 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.

Oil prices fell slightly amid volatile currency and stock markets, coupled with concerns that an economic slowdown in 2019 will curb fuel demand just as crude supplies are surging.

Tesla on Wednesday cut U.S. prices for all its vehicles to offset lower green tax credits, and fell short on quarterly deliveries of its mass-market Model 3 sedan, sending shares of the electric vehicle maker down nearly 7 percent on worries of future profitability.

Reuters TV

The United States is demanding Moscow provide details on the detention of a retired U.S. Marine in Russia on spying charges, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, adding Washington may demand his return.

Pompeo demands answers on U.S. citizen held in Russia
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