Transcript: Nightly Business Report – December 20, 2017

ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Tyler Mathisen and Sue

is done. Now, lawmakers have just days to avert a shutdown.

purchase homes at the fastest pace in more than a decade. But will the tax
bill put the brakes on housing?

GRIFFETH: Retirement overhaul. As we ring in the New Year, members of the
military will see the biggest shift to their benefits in decades.

Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this
Wednesday, December 20th.

Good evening, everybody. I`m Bill Griffeth, in tonight for Tyler Mathisen,
coming to you once again from the New York Stock Exchange.

Hi, Sue.

HERERA: Hi, Bill. Good to see you. I`m Sue Herera. Welcome, everybody.

Congress approved the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in
decades, altering the finances for businesses big and small and households
across America. The rewrite is the biggest legislative achievement for
Republicans since they gained control of the White House and both chambers
of Congress. The Senate passed the measure overnight. The House passed it
again after a snag that we told you about yesterday forced another vote

And the president declared victory.


experience, I to tell you. It hasn`t been done in 34 years. But actually
really hasn`t been done because we broke every record. It`s the largest —
I always say the most massive — but it`s the largest tax cut in the
history of our country, and reform, but tax cut.


HERERA: The president hasn`t signed the bill into law quite yet. And he
may wait until January. The timing depends on the outcome of separate
talks about government spending.

GRIFFETH: Speaking of which, agreeing to a spending bill is the next
legislative challenge. And lawmakers only have a few days to do it or risk
a government shutdown.

Kayla Tausche is following this story for us from Capitol Hill.

Kayla, good evening. Where do things stand tonight?

House Republicans are meeting to hash out exactly what their plan is to
move forward. The self-imposed deadline of tax reform put them on a
collision course with very real deadlines to fund the government by the end
of this week. Now, they`re having to throw out any expectations that the
year-end spending bill would include comprehensive Republican priorities
and instead they`re going to put forward a streamlined package just to keep
the government`s lights on for about a month.

HERERA: What are some of the sticking points, Kayla, that you`ve heard

TAUSCHE: Well, Sue, some of the most contentious sticking points at this
point have been withdrawn, because they`re just trying to put something on
the table that they can pass. Republicans had originally wanted to fund
defense through September, 44 Senate Democrats said that would be dead on
an arrival. Today, two Senate Republicans said they would withdraw some
controversial health care measures that would have put forward a roadblock
in the House.

So, this is going to be a fairly straightforward bill, though it will seek
to, on a short term basis, reauthorize children`s health insurance and
potentially even tackle some disaster relief spending, though aides tell me
that will likely take until next year to pass.

GRIFFETH: The big question: how does this get resolved? In fact, does it
get resolved anytime soon?

TAUSCHE: They are not expecting a government shutdown. If you ask any
lawmaker here on Capitol Hill, they say there will not be a shutdown before
Christmas. No wants to be responsible for being the Grinch.

Tonight, House Republicans will put forward a plan that they believe has
consensus. They`ll discuss it with their Senate colleagues. And barring
any opposition from either chamber, they hope to vote as early as tomorrow.
Remember, lawmakers are people, too. They want to get home for the

GRIFFETH: Just like you do, I know. Another late night for Kayla Tausche
in Washington for us tonight. Thanks, Kayla.


HERERA: Well, now that Congress has approved the tax legislation, a number
of companies are outlining how they will deploy some of their capital.

For example, AT&T (NYSE:T) plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the
U.S. next year. It will also pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than
200,000 employees.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) says it`s still studying the provisions of the new tax
legislation but following its passage, it plans to earmark $300 million on
workforce related and charitable investments.

GRIFFETH: We also heard from some banks. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Fifth
Third say they both plan to raise their minimum hourly rate. Wells Fargo
(NYSE:WFC) is also going to target $400 million in 2018 philanthropic
contributions. Fifth Third is going to distribute a one-time bonus for
more than 13,000 of its employees.

HERERA: To housing now, and the housing market, which finished the year on
a strong note. Sales of previously owned homes rose in November by the
strongest pace in more than a decade. Almost all regions saw growth
despite the supply of homes on the market being at the lowest level since

GRIFFETH: But following the passage of this tax bill, some prospect of
homeowners are concerned about what is to come. As we`ve been reporting,
the tax bill does cut deductions for both mortgage interest and property
taxes. While the specific cuts will not hit the vast majority of current
homeowners, raising the standard deduction would cause many to stop
itemizing altogether. And that takes away incentives for home ownership.

And as Diana Olick reports for us, some worry that it could actually cause
both sales and prices to fall.


been house hunting for over a year, hoping to find more living space in the
Chicago suburbs. It has not been easy.

LADARIUS CURTIS, HOME BUYER: Sometimes you see a home, you really like it,
and then it`s off the market, within 72 hours or so. It`s like, oh, it`s
gone again.

OLICK: Stiff competition, high prices, tight supply. It`s the same story
across the nation. And now buyers have one more worry — taxes.

CURTIS: Oh, it`s definitely a concern. Any time you don`t get an
opportunity to have that extra deduction or possibly getting that money
back during that spring season can be a little bit of a — kind of a little
tight squeeze on your budget.

OLICK: The tax bill cuts the cap on the mortgage deduction to interest
paid on $750,000 in debt. That`s down from $1 million. But 94 percent of
homeowners currently have mortgages below the new cap. And current
homeowners are grandfathered in to $1 million.

The deduction on property taxes is still there, but now capped at $10,000
in taxes paid. Ninety-five percent of homeowners pay less than that, so it
wouldn`t affect them, according to the realtors. Certain states, though,
will be hard hit. In New Jersey, 30 percent of homeowners pay more than
$10,000 in property taxes, 20 percent do in New York, and 9 percent in

In areas like River Forest, just outside Chicago, that will be felt.

market, 41 of them are taxed — they have property taxes in excess of
$10,000. So, between $10,000 and $63,000. So, if you`re going to cap
those at 10, that`s going to have a huge impact in terms of incentives.

OLICK: Also, with a higher standard deduction, fewer people will itemize
overall, leaving no tax incentives to become a homeowner. So, the rent
versus buy equation could tip more toward renting, especially with home
prices still soaring. On the other hand, it could help buyers.

whether this impacts home ownership rate over the long haul. But in the
meantime, it`s a tax cut for many Americans.

OLICK: A savings which they could use for a down payment on a home.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.


HERERA: On Wall Street today, the markets were pretty calm. Stocks were
little changed but remain near record levels after Congress passed the tax
bill. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28 points to 24,726. The
Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were both off about two.

Stocks have climbed this year in part because of the expectation of tax
cuts. And now that they`re here, there seems to be a debate happening
among inventors.

Bob Pisani explains.


a done deal, now the debate shifts to whether to sell on the news. It may
be happening already. Stocks retreated on Tuesday. We`re little changed
on Wednesday. Even a big move up in ten-year treasury yields failed to
move bank stocks up.

So, there`s three options here. First, the market pauses and stocks sell
off on the news of a tax cut. Or the rally continues. Or the market

Many are arguing that the rally this month should pause. Bears say the
market is overbought and it`s expensive, even considering the tax cuts.

Most analysts believe S&P 500 earnings for 2018 will increase anywhere from
8 to 11 percent without tax cuts. But tax cuts could add another 5 percent
to 7 percent to that. And bears say much of that is already priced into
the market.

Bulls say the global economic expansion coupled with low rates will
continue to justify the rally, that there`s still too many positive
catalysts to see a pullback right now.

But there`s a third option, a middle ground between the rally keeps going
and sell on the news. That`s whether the market can successfully continue
sector rotation it`s been seeing in the past month.

Banks, a sector that would great benefit from tax cuts, are up almost 7
percent. While technology and particularly semiconductors have
underperformed, they would be less likely beneficiaries. So, remember,
there`s a sector that would see fewer benefits and there are sectors that
will see greater benefits.

So, who wins? If you continue to believe global growth will go on and
rates will stay low, it`s not that hard to make an argument that the market
will at least hold its gains going into 2018.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.


GRIFFETH: Last week, we reported that the FCC had voted to change the
rules that govern the internet. Now, it appears as if that battle is not
over just yet.

Our Julia Boorstin takes a look now at how this issue is unifying both
Democrats and Republicans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair votes aye. The item is adopted.

growing following the FCC`s vote to overhaul “net neutrality” regulations,
rules that prevented Internet providers from prioritizing or slowing
different content on their pipes.

Dissenting FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Senator Maria Cantwell
hosted a town hall on Twitter, fielding questions about why they believe
it`s so important to preserve the protections implemented by the Obama
administration, warning that startups and consumers could bear higher

MIGNON CLYBURN, FCC COMMISSIONER: Internet service providers today produce
and own content. They even own media companies. So, they have incentives
in place to favor their own traffic, to favor their own content, to favor
their own business interests.

BOORSTIN: And yesterday, House Republican Marsha Blackburn introduced a
solution to the FCC`s vote. Her Open Internet Preservation Act prevents
blocking and throttling of Internet content but would not block Internet
providers from charging companies to prioritize their content.

Fellow House Republican Mike Coffman also speaking out about the dangers of
repealing the regulations.

And there`s legal battle brewing. New York Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman saying he will file suit to block the FCC`s plan, saying it
enables Internet favor certain viewpoints and leaves consumers with no
protections, saying the FCC`s public comment process was corrupted by fake
comments. But four other state attorneys general announcing suits as well.

We`re even seeing a few states to look at the potential to implement their
own legislation to enforce net neutrality.

So, what this mean for companies and consumers? “New York Times
(NYSE:NYT)”` tech columnist Farhad Manjoo predicts more streaming deals
between Internet providers such as Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) and
streaming giants like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), but he says consumers won`t
immediately see a difference.

FARHAD MANJOO, NYT TECH COLUMNIST: The biggest harms are going to sort of
be invisible. Like we will not see the company that can`t afford to pay
for this stuff, the kind of new, interesting video startup or maybe VR
startup or some other, you know, high bandwidth application that needs to
pay for fast lanes on your home Internet, they may not be able to do that
and you wouldn`t see that.

BOORSTIN: As for whether the FCC`s “net neutrality” repeal stands, Manjoo
says while Congress figures out its position, expect the FCC rules to be
the new normal until the Democrats control the FCC again.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in San Francisco.


HERERA: Still ahead tonight, Las Vegas is betting on a makeover.


for its gambling, it`s the ice that`s changing the face of this desert
city. I`m Contessa Brewer. Coming up: How Sin City is quickly becoming a
sports city.



GRIFFETH: It goes without saying that more Americans are buying more items
online in part because it`s convenient and easy. I mean, after all, you
just click and then a few days later, your package is delivered.

But it`s the shipping process that`s actually more complicated than that.

Courtney Reagan goes behind the scenes for us tonight in Walton, Kentucky.


push for retailers to get packages shipped in time for Christmas. If
you`re one of the 40 percent of Americans still shopping and squeaking in
last-minute online orders, your package may be coming from one of these
radial fulfillment centers.

Radial is an e-commerce technology and distribution provider for hundreds
of retailers and brands including Adidas, Neiman Marcus (NYSE:MCS), Levi`s
and Kate Spade. It`s the second largest U.S. fulfillment center by square
footage, behind Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), with 21 locations throughout the

Some orders placed on are fulfilled by Radial. Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) sellers can use Radial`s network to fulfill even prime
eligible items instead of Amazon`s fulfillment options.

This northern Kentucky facility covers 1.3 million square feet, packing
online orders for Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO), Shoe Carnival (NASDAQ:SCVL)
(NYSE:CCL) and others. The final hours for online ordering with delivery
in time for Christmas makes this one of Radial`s busiest weeks of the year.
And every year, the volume only gets heavier as more shopping ships online.

This week, Radial expects to ship more than 2 1/2 times the number of
packages it shipped on record breaking Cyber Monday. If you`re checking
off your holiday shopping list online, watch the shipping deadlines
carefully. Here at Radial, today is the last day for ground shipping in
time for Christmas.

unique with Christmas being on a Monday, so, you definitely have an early
cut-off for ordering online than you normally do. But our retailers did a
great job of kind of doing, like you said, behind the scenes upgrades for
our customers, and then, you know, really if you want to pay for air
shipping, you have up until two days before Christmas to order.

REAGAN: Simpson says many retailers have been silently picking up the cost
of expedited shipping on consumers` behalf since around December 13. But
now it`s on shoppers to pay for rush shipping.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan in Walton, Kentucky.


HERERA: Blackberry`s pivot from hardware to software continues to pay off.
And that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.

BlackBerry reported better than expected earnings and revenue, thanks to
strong demand from the government and NATO for business software. The
company is also looking to spend at least a half billion dollar on deals
that would help growth. The shares popped nearly 12 percent to $12.17.

General Mills` cereal slump may be over, thanks to strong sales of its new
chocolate peanut butter Cheerios. The food giant, which has been
contending with soft demand for processed foods says cereal sales improved
in the latest quarter. And that helped overall revenue and profits beat
estimates. But shares rose almost 2 percent to $58.76.

The RV maker Winnebago reported profit and sales that grew clip than
analysts were expecting. The company says it continues to see growth in
its towables division. Winnebago also cited improved margins, thanks to an
expanded product lineup. Nonetheless, shares fell more than 4 percent to


GRIFFETH: I`m still thinking about those chocolate peanut butter Cheerios.
It sounds great.

HERERA: I know, they sound delicious.

GRIFFETH: Investors got their first chance to react to Micron`s strong
earnings report and upbeat outlook. The company, which released results
yesterday, said the growth of artificial intelligence will likely increase
demand for its products.


SANJAY MEHROTRA, MICRON TECHNOLOGY CEO: You`re barely seeing the tip of
the iceberg in terms of artificial intelligence impacting our lives. And
as artificial intelligence goes into all verticals and processes a lot of
data, it actually is going to drive a lot of growth for solid state drives
in data center applications, too, where we see the biggest growth coming
from the data centers.


GRIFFETH: Shares of Micron higher by 4 percent today to $45.7

And after the bell, Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) reported earnings and
revenue that edged past expectations. Same store sales, though, fell
fractionally. Shares initially popped in after-hour trading tonight, and
then sell lower. They ended the regular session up 2.5 percent to $24.57.

HERERA: You probably know that Las Vegas was built on gambling. But now,
it wants to add to that reputation and become a city built on sports.

Contessa Brewer looks at how Sin City is reinventing itself.


BREWER: In a town famous for flashing lights and clanging coins, these
cheers are quickly becoming a Las Vegas mainstay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s loud, it`s raucous. You know, we`re all cheering
through the night.

BREWER: And in this desert city, the ice is a big draw.

KATY CAMPO, LAS VEGAS HOCKEY FAN: Big Golden Knights fan, Vegas resident
for 15 years. We`re so excited that they`re here.

BREWER: The Golden Knights have exploded onto the National Hockey League,
tied for first in their division. The arena where the Knights play is
filled both with locals and visiting fans.

BILL FOLEY, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS OWNER: We`re sold out. So before the
game, people are going to restaurants, they`re going to bars, they`re
coming here, they`re buying food, they`re buying drink, they`re spending
their money. There`s Uber. It`s taxis.

So, we are creating a lot of business momentum for Las Vegas by being this
hometown team.

BREWER: The Raiders broke ground on the stadium where they`ll play pro
football starting in 2020. Soccer is launching an expansion team. The Las
Vegas lights start playing next year.

And now, companies with global gambling dominance are betting big they`ll
hit the jackpot with sports. MGM owns a big stake in the arena where the
Golden Knights play. And just bought the WNBA`s worst performing team, now
named the Las Vegas Aces.

Though other WNBA teams are struggling to make a profit, MGM`s CEO Jim
Murren is prepared to ante up.

JIM MURREN, MGM RESORTS CHAIRMAN & CEO: It`s about empowering athletes.
It`s about bringing live entertainment. And I`m very optimistic about the
future of the WNBA, particularly in a market that is so entertainment
focused as Las Vegas is.

BREWER: Murren says 65 percent of MGM`s revenue now comes from non-gaming
sources. But sports is about more than the business bottom line.

CAMPO: It makes it a hometown, you know, being a transient city, it`s hard
to see the camaraderie come to life.

BREWER: They say sports may change that, it gives us something to come
together and rally behind. They also say that about October 1st, that what
happened at Mandalay Bay on October 1st was a rallying call for Las Vegas.

MURREN: I was excited about this long before that tragic date. We had
already acquired the team before that point. But it certainly feels good
that we`re going to be able to bring another opportunity to bring the
community together.

BREWER: This community depends on visitors. With 150,000 hotel rooms to
fill every day, Las Vegas is betting sports fans will travel here to see
their favorite teams play.

Sports events are new to Las Vegas, of course. It has a long history with
golf, tennis, rodeo, bull riding, NASCAR, and at the top of the ticket,

But for decades, major leagues and gaming`s governing bodies resisted
putting sports teams here, worried about the crossover between sports
gambling and sports. But that`s starting to change as the nation moves
toward widespread acceptance of gambling.

product for us to put out to the public. We know people are going to come
in to see that.

BREWER: A product that`s turning Sin City into sports city.

Contessa Brewer, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Las Vegas.


GRIFFETH: And coming up, members of the military are being offered new
choices that could affect their financial future.


HERERA: Yet another major setback for Uber. The European Union`s highest
court ruled that the fast-growing ride hailing company is a transportation
business, not just a platform that connects drivers with riders. That
decision will force Uber to comply with the region`s transportation rules
and it could have implications for other companies operating in the so-
called gig economy.

GRIFFETH: Some big changes are coming for members of our armed forces.
Starting next year, the military is overhauling its retirement benefits
system, ushering in some of the biggest structural changes in 70 years.

Sharon Epperson has our story.


old Zach Beckman is a government contractor in the private sector and a
reservist in the United States Marine Corps. Military service runs in the

ZACH BECKMAN, MARINE CORPS RESERVIST: I`ve wanted to be a marine since I
was a little kid. It`s almost like my first big dream. My dad was a
marine, my grandfather was a marine.

EPPERSON: Now, Corporal Beckman is being offered a choice for his
financial future they never had.

BECKMAN: The old system, you had to stay in 20 years before you could get
any type of retirement plan.

EPPERSON: Under its current retirement plan, military members receive a
lifetime pension that`s equal of 50 percent of their base pay. To earn it,
they must serve at least 20 years. Many aim to hit that target. But only
19 percent reach it. The majority leave the service with nothing.

to job, and they need a benefit that — a retirement benefit that they can
take with them.

EPPERSON: Starting January 1st, service members entering the military will
be part of the new blended retirement system. It combines a pension and
something like a 401(k) plan, putting more of the responsibility for long
term savings on the member`s shoulders.

AFFAIRS: It starts to cause them to learn how to contribute to their own
future, their own retirement.

EPPERSON: Those with at least 12 years of service will stay on the legacy
program. But 1.6 million who joined after 2006, including Corporal
Beckman, will need to choose which plan they want.

BIRD: If you know for a fact that you are going to serve 20 years, then
you should stay with the legacy system.

EPPERSON: There is still a pension under the new system, as long as you
reach 20 years. But the amount is reduced by 20 percent. The Department
of Defense says members are encouraged to make up the difference using the
federal government`s thrift savings plan or TSP. Those who opt in will
select how much money they`ll contribute to the TSP and can begin receiving
government matching contribution of up to 5 percent of their pay right

BIRD: It is my strong belief that they get the education and they start
right away contributing, they won`t miss the money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason that Congress passed the law.

EPPERSON: The military is requiring mandatory financial education training
on bases and online. So far, over 80 percent of those who must make a
decision have taken it. Some financial advisers worry one course may not
be enough.

RENE BRUER, SMITH BRUER ADVISORS: This all has to start in the boot camps.
This has to be fully integrated into training, just as much as they teach
you how to shoot a gun, they need to teach you how to manage your paycheck.

EPPERSON: Pentagon officials say access to a portable retirement benefit
early in their career will make military service more competitive.

BUSCH: The blended retirement system, we think it`s a key step in
recruiting and retaining the talent we need to ensure military readiness.

EPPERSON: This marine reservist says his choice is clear.

BECKMAN: Getting a my civilian job, and also having my Marine Corps
experience, I know the value of a dollar and see that it`s important to
save for the future.

EPPERSON: But for others, choosing the best past for their retirement
savings may not be as easy.



HERERA: And finally tonight, a gold bar was recently placed among dollar
bills and coins in an Idaho Salvation Army kettle. The one-ounce bar is
worth more than $1,200. The Salvation Army plans to trade it in for cash.
As we told you yesterday, a $200,000 check was also recently donated to the

Such a nice story to end on, right, Bill?

GRIFFETH: Keep the donations coming.

HERERA: Absolutely.

On that note, that does it for us tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks so much
for joining us.

GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. We`ll see you tomorrow.



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