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The top 10 business stories of 2016

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP?: Wall Street greeted the election of Donald Trump with panic at first, then trepidation, then zealousness as stocks hit record highs. Driven by an expectation of looming tax cuts and business deregulation, the Dow closed above 19,000 for the first time ever while commodities soared on Trump's talk of massive infrastructure spending. But there were also fears mixed into the reaction. The post-election "Trump Thump" wiped out more than $1 trillion across global bond markets worldwide, the worst rout in nearly 1-1/2 years, on bets that plans under a Trump administration would boost business investments and spending while firing up inflation. And many are nervous about the state of international trade deals under Trump, as the ambitious Asia-Pacific trade pact lay in tatters after Trump said he would kill the deal on his first day in office, and has pledged to leave NAFTA if it can't be improved to his liking. 

REUTERS/Eric Thayer

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP?: Wall Street greeted the election of Donald Trump with panic at first, then trepidation, then zealousness as stocks hit record highs. Driven by an expectation of looming tax cuts and business deregulation, the Dow...more

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP?: Wall Street greeted the election of Donald Trump with panic at first, then trepidation, then zealousness as stocks hit record highs. Driven by an expectation of looming tax cuts and business deregulation, the Dow closed above 19,000 for the first time ever while commodities soared on Trump's talk of massive infrastructure spending. But there were also fears mixed into the reaction. The post-election "Trump Thump" wiped out more than $1 trillion across global bond markets worldwide, the worst rout in nearly 1-1/2 years, on bets that plans under a Trump administration would boost business investments and spending while firing up inflation. And many are nervous about the state of international trade deals under Trump, as the ambitious Asia-Pacific trade pact lay in tatters after Trump said he would kill the deal on his first day in office, and has pledged to leave NAFTA if it can't be improved to his liking. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
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THE SPECTER OF BREXIT: British voters stunned the world in a June referendum, voting 52 percent in favor of leaving the European Union. The fallout was instant, with Prime Minister David Cameron resigning the day after, Britain losing its AAA credit rating, the Pound and FTSE in freefall, and Scotland openly discussing leaving Britain. The outcome cast doubt on the future stability of the European Union, with some voters, including sizable Dutch and French blocs expressing a desire to leave the EU themselves. It could take Britain up to six years to actually leave, but some, both in the EU and Britain, think the sooner the Brexit the better.

REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

THE SPECTER OF BREXIT: British voters stunned the world in a June referendum, voting 52 percent in favor of leaving the European Union. The fallout was instant, with Prime Minister David Cameron resigning the day after, Britain losing its AAA credit...more

THE SPECTER OF BREXIT: British voters stunned the world in a June referendum, voting 52 percent in favor of leaving the European Union. The fallout was instant, with Prime Minister David Cameron resigning the day after, Britain losing its AAA credit rating, the Pound and FTSE in freefall, and Scotland openly discussing leaving Britain. The outcome cast doubt on the future stability of the European Union, with some voters, including sizable Dutch and French blocs expressing a desire to leave the EU themselves. It could take Britain up to six years to actually leave, but some, both in the EU and Britain, think the sooner the Brexit the better. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
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APPLE VERSUS THE FBI: In perhaps the most heated battle yet over how much private technology companies should cooperate with governments, Apple found itself pitted against the FBI over whether the company should help law enforcement unlock the iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook. For three months, there were demonstrations for and against outside Apple stores, boycotts, petitions, accusations of smear campaigns, and running legal battles. In the end, the Justice Department said it had unlocked the phone with the help of an unidentified third party and dropped its case against Apple, ending the high-stakes legal clash but leaving the broader fight over encryption unresolved. Technology and security experts have said that if the U.S. government was able to obtain Apple's source code with a conventional court order, other governments would demand equal rights to do the same thing.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

APPLE VERSUS THE FBI: In perhaps the most heated battle yet over how much private technology companies should cooperate with governments, Apple found itself pitted against the FBI over whether the company should help law enforcement unlock the iPhone...more

APPLE VERSUS THE FBI: In perhaps the most heated battle yet over how much private technology companies should cooperate with governments, Apple found itself pitted against the FBI over whether the company should help law enforcement unlock the iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook. For three months, there were demonstrations for and against outside Apple stores, boycotts, petitions, accusations of smear campaigns, and running legal battles. In the end, the Justice Department said it had unlocked the phone with the help of an unidentified third party and dropped its case against Apple, ending the high-stakes legal clash but leaving the broader fight over encryption unresolved. Technology and security experts have said that if the U.S. government was able to obtain Apple's source code with a conventional court order, other governments would demand equal rights to do the same thing. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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TESLA WANTS TO POWER YOUR LIFE: A climate change presentation by Elon Musk this October contained a surprise no one saw coming -- solar roof panels from Tesla that would allow you to power your house, and of course your Tesla car, through Tesla batteries. Some were mystified in August when Musk swooped down and purchased SolarCity, America's largest rooftop solar panel installer, but suddenly it all made sense in the presentation. All the pieces (the Nevada Gigafactory, the new Powerwall 2, even the Tesla showrooms) suddenly fit together. Tesla wants to power our future, and ensure this solar power is not only more affordable than any alternative, but sleeker, cleaner, and hyper-connected on a national grid we can only assume Tesla is already working on.

REUTERS/Nichola Groom

TESLA WANTS TO POWER YOUR LIFE: A climate change presentation by Elon Musk this October contained a surprise no one saw coming -- solar roof panels from Tesla that would allow you to power your house, and of course your Tesla car, through Tesla...more

TESLA WANTS TO POWER YOUR LIFE: A climate change presentation by Elon Musk this October contained a surprise no one saw coming -- solar roof panels from Tesla that would allow you to power your house, and of course your Tesla car, through Tesla batteries. Some were mystified in August when Musk swooped down and purchased SolarCity, America's largest rooftop solar panel installer, but suddenly it all made sense in the presentation. All the pieces (the Nevada Gigafactory, the new Powerwall 2, even the Tesla showrooms) suddenly fit together. Tesla wants to power our future, and ensure this solar power is not only more affordable than any alternative, but sleeker, cleaner, and hyper-connected on a national grid we can only assume Tesla is already working on. REUTERS/Nichola Groom
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THE FUTURE IS BLOCKCHAIN: Blockchain, the web-based transaction-processing and settlement system based on the technology behind the bitcoin virtual currency, moved to the mainstream in 2016, with several banks announcing plans to build their own blockchain-enabled platforms and networks. Banks say blockchain could slash costs by creating a "golden record" of any given set of secure data that is automatically replicated for all parties, eliminating any need for third-party verification. Take the current foreign exchange market for example:  Presently, each trade requires multiple records to be created for buyer, seller, broker, clearer and third parties, and then reconciliation across multiple systems. Blockchain eliminates all these steps, allowing execution and settlement to occur seamlessly. A network of blockchain transactions could save billions in costs worldwide and radically speed up transaction times across every facet of life. 

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

THE FUTURE IS BLOCKCHAIN: Blockchain, the web-based transaction-processing and settlement system based on the technology behind the bitcoin virtual currency, moved to the mainstream in 2016, with several banks announcing plans to build their own...more

THE FUTURE IS BLOCKCHAIN: Blockchain, the web-based transaction-processing and settlement system based on the technology behind the bitcoin virtual currency, moved to the mainstream in 2016, with several banks announcing plans to build their own blockchain-enabled platforms and networks. Banks say blockchain could slash costs by creating a "golden record" of any given set of secure data that is automatically replicated for all parties, eliminating any need for third-party verification. Take the current foreign exchange market for example: Presently, each trade requires multiple records to be created for buyer, seller, broker, clearer and third parties, and then reconciliation across multiple systems. Blockchain eliminates all these steps, allowing execution and settlement to occur seamlessly. A network of blockchain transactions could save billions in costs worldwide and radically speed up transaction times across every facet of life. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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THE END OF FREE TRADE?: The days of endlessly expanding free trade deals around the world seemed to come to an end in 2016. A major one between the United States and Europe is now close to collapse after Britain's plans to withdraw from the European Union prompted Washington to demand better terms and opposition in France and Germany all but scuppered it. Meanwhile, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, intended to lower tariff barriers in countries that account for 40 percent of the world economy, fell to pieces after Trump pledged to end the pact his first day in office. Even the 22-year-old NAFTA deal could be in jeopardy as Trump has pledged to leave if it can't be improved to his liking.

REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

THE END OF FREE TRADE?: The days of endlessly expanding free trade deals around the world seemed to come to an end in 2016. A major one between the United States and Europe is now close to collapse after Britain's plans to withdraw from the European...more

THE END OF FREE TRADE?: The days of endlessly expanding free trade deals around the world seemed to come to an end in 2016. A major one between the United States and Europe is now close to collapse after Britain's plans to withdraw from the European Union prompted Washington to demand better terms and opposition in France and Germany all but scuppered it. Meanwhile, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, intended to lower tariff barriers in countries that account for 40 percent of the world economy, fell to pieces after Trump pledged to end the pact his first day in office. Even the 22-year-old NAFTA deal could be in jeopardy as Trump has pledged to leave if it can't be improved to his liking. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
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SAMSUNG'S NEWEST PHONE GOES UP IN SMOKE: Samsung scrapped its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone less than two months after its launch, dealing a huge blow to its reputation and outlook after failing to resolve safety concerns. The problems with the premium device, supposed to compete with Apple's latest iPhone, and well-received by critics, began in August as pre-orders overwhelmed supply. But within days of the launch images of charred Note 7s began appearing on social media, in the first sign that something was seriously amiss with the gadget. The recall of at least 2.5 million Note 7s, which retailed for $780, could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history. Samsung's decision to finally scrap the Note 7 came after fresh reports of fires in replacement devices, prompted new warnings from regulators, phone carriers and airlines.

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SAMSUNG'S NEWEST PHONE GOES UP IN SMOKE: Samsung scrapped its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone less than two months after its launch, dealing a huge blow to its reputation and outlook after failing to resolve safety concerns. The problems with the...more

SAMSUNG'S NEWEST PHONE GOES UP IN SMOKE: Samsung scrapped its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone less than two months after its launch, dealing a huge blow to its reputation and outlook after failing to resolve safety concerns. The problems with the premium device, supposed to compete with Apple's latest iPhone, and well-received by critics, began in August as pre-orders overwhelmed supply. But within days of the launch images of charred Note 7s began appearing on social media, in the first sign that something was seriously amiss with the gadget. The recall of at least 2.5 million Note 7s, which retailed for $780, could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history. Samsung's decision to finally scrap the Note 7 came after fresh reports of fires in replacement devices, prompted new warnings from regulators, phone carriers and airlines. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
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A MEDIA MERGER TOO FAR?: Just a year after AT&T's purchase of DirecTV, the telecom giant announced a proposed $85.4-billion purchase of Time Warner, the nation's largest media company. The deal would bring AT&T a slew of premium content from HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros. and other coveted assets sure to reshape the media landscape. But investors and regulators were quick to pour water on the deal. Some are unnerved by the rationale and the massive $170-billion debt balance the combined company may hold. Others say regulators could include conditions that limit the wireless provider's ability to use Time Warner content as a competitive advantage, ultimately undermining the deal's objectives. AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson says he expects government clearances because it is a so-called vertical integration that will not eliminate a competitor, a situation that is viewed more favorably by antitrust enforcers. Despite its big media footprint, Time Warner has only one FCC-regulated broadcast station, WPCH-TV in Atlanta. Time Warner could sell the license to try to avoid a formal FCC review, say several analysts. But the deal will have to pass the new president too. While campaigning, Trump threatened to block the deal, calling it a "power structure" rigged against him and voters.

REUTERS/Mike Blake

A MEDIA MERGER TOO FAR?: Just a year after AT&T's purchase of DirecTV, the telecom giant announced a proposed $85.4-billion purchase of Time Warner, the nation's largest media company. The deal would bring AT&T a slew of premium content from HBO and...more

A MEDIA MERGER TOO FAR?: Just a year after AT&T's purchase of DirecTV, the telecom giant announced a proposed $85.4-billion purchase of Time Warner, the nation's largest media company. The deal would bring AT&T a slew of premium content from HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros. and other coveted assets sure to reshape the media landscape. But investors and regulators were quick to pour water on the deal. Some are unnerved by the rationale and the massive $170-billion debt balance the combined company may hold. Others say regulators could include conditions that limit the wireless provider's ability to use Time Warner content as a competitive advantage, ultimately undermining the deal's objectives. AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson says he expects government clearances because it is a so-called vertical integration that will not eliminate a competitor, a situation that is viewed more favorably by antitrust enforcers. Despite its big media footprint, Time Warner has only one FCC-regulated broadcast station, WPCH-TV in Atlanta. Time Warner could sell the license to try to avoid a formal FCC review, say several analysts. But the deal will have to pass the new president too. While campaigning, Trump threatened to block the deal, calling it a "power structure" rigged against him and voters. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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MICROSOFT BATTLES SALESFORCE TO BUY LINKEDIN: Microsoft almost bought Salesforce last year, but the deal fell apart in the late stages over pricing. After coming so close, the two companies sure did grow apart. Before long, they were locked in a heated duel over who would acquire professional social network LinkedIn. In the end Salesforce offered more, but Microsoft won out. And just when it should have been over it all started again, as Salesforce asked regulators to investigate the deal on antitrust concerns. The $26-billion bid, Microsoft's biggest deal yet, will allow the company to add a suite of sales, marketing and recruiting services to its core business products as it gears up for next-generation computing. Salesforce has criticized the takeover, saying it threatens innovation and competition, but Microsoft is expected to counter that there is more than enough social competition from Facebook and smartphones. Antitrust regulators in the United States, Canada and Brazil have already cleared the deal.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

MICROSOFT BATTLES SALESFORCE TO BUY LINKEDIN: Microsoft almost bought Salesforce last year, but the deal fell apart in the late stages over pricing. After coming so close, the two companies sure did grow apart. Before long, they were locked in a...more

MICROSOFT BATTLES SALESFORCE TO BUY LINKEDIN: Microsoft almost bought Salesforce last year, but the deal fell apart in the late stages over pricing. After coming so close, the two companies sure did grow apart. Before long, they were locked in a heated duel over who would acquire professional social network LinkedIn. In the end Salesforce offered more, but Microsoft won out. And just when it should have been over it all started again, as Salesforce asked regulators to investigate the deal on antitrust concerns. The $26-billion bid, Microsoft's biggest deal yet, will allow the company to add a suite of sales, marketing and recruiting services to its core business products as it gears up for next-generation computing. Salesforce has criticized the takeover, saying it threatens innovation and competition, but Microsoft is expected to counter that there is more than enough social competition from Facebook and smartphones. Antitrust regulators in the United States, Canada and Brazil have already cleared the deal. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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THE END OF LOW RATES?: Fed Chair Janet Yellen has done very little to surprise investors other than to repeatedly play up the likelihood of, and then put off, a follow-up hike to last year's baby step of bringing rates a little above zero. And Yellen says the election of Trump has done nothing to change the Fed's plans for a rate increase "relatively soon". There had been some uncertainty about how Yellen would interact with a new president who at turns during the campaign spoke favorably of the Fed's low rate policies, while saying he would replace Yellen when her term expires. For the time being, Yellen says, incoming economic data justifies a rate hike soon and, absent any dramatic changes, a gradual pace of hikes after that. The long era of low interest rates could be coming to an end. 

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

THE END OF LOW RATES?: Fed Chair Janet Yellen has done very little to surprise investors other than to repeatedly play up the likelihood of, and then put off, a follow-up hike to last year's baby step of bringing rates a little above zero. And Yellen...more

THE END OF LOW RATES?: Fed Chair Janet Yellen has done very little to surprise investors other than to repeatedly play up the likelihood of, and then put off, a follow-up hike to last year's baby step of bringing rates a little above zero. And Yellen says the election of Trump has done nothing to change the Fed's plans for a rate increase "relatively soon". There had been some uncertainty about how Yellen would interact with a new president who at turns during the campaign spoke favorably of the Fed's low rate policies, while saying he would replace Yellen when her term expires. For the time being, Yellen says, incoming economic data justifies a rate hike soon and, absent any dramatic changes, a gradual pace of hikes after that. The long era of low interest rates could be coming to an end. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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