Business Stories of the Week: Nov. 3, 2017

by November 3, 2017

Retailers like J.C. Penney will use toys to increase foot traffic this holiday shopping season, so you might soon see Legos next to racks of leggings. (Photo via

Tax announcement tips homebuilding stock

House Republicans formally announced their plan for tax reform on Thursday, which means plenty of debate and politicking in the weeks ahead. While Congress begins to hammer out what that reform will mean, the announcement has already affected the homebuilding industry. The legislation calls for dropping the mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $500,000 and would also limit the deduction for state and local property taxes to $10,000, CNN Money reports. That could be bad news for people who want to buy pricier homes or ones in more expensive areas of the country. The CNN Money report points out that luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers saw its stock fall 6 percent on Thursday and KB Home, Hovnanian and PulteGroup lost between two and four percent apiece.

AT&T struggles with Time Warner Merger

The Trump administration’s Department of Justice is considering filing a lawsuit to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner Inc., according to an Ars Technica report citing The Wall Street Journal. AT&T had said it expects to close the deal by the end of the year, but it first needs to come to an agreement with the government on conditions that would keep the  programming landscape competitive. The DOJ routinely files lawsuits against mergers and deals that it later approves, but negotiations are apparently stalling. AT&T remains confident about the merger, but Trump had claimed that his administration would not approve the deal while campaigning for president.

Legos get cozy with leggings

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, the Washington Post has already noticed an interesting retail trend: Toys are everywhere. High-end department stores like Bergdorf and Bloomingdales have them on display, outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops is opening mini Build-A-Bear shops and J.C. Penney will soon have Legos next to its racks of leggings. It’s a new alliance for toymakers as the industry adjusts after the bankruptcy filing of Toys R Us. Online sales and major chains like Walmart and Target continue to dominate, but traditional retailers hope to use toys to drive foot traffic over the holidays.

Papa John’s slams NFL

Recent protests before NFL games during the national anthem has brought both positive and negative attention to football this year. League leadership and its players have received a mixture of support and criticism for the protests, prompting debate over the current state of civil rights and, of course, numerous tweets from President Trump. The latest critic is Papa John’s International Inc. founder John Schnatter, who claims weak handling of the protests from league leadership has hurt his pizza sales, Bloomberg reports. Whether he’s on to something or just passing the blame, Papa John’s certainly had disappointing results in the last quarter, with its shares falling as much as 13 percent on Wednesday.

Drift of weed killer affects 25 states

The New York Times reports that the weed killer dicamba has damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops in 25 states due to unintended drift. That comes out to about 4 percent of all soybeans planted in the United States this year. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency called for an urgent federal response, claiming that it does not usually hear reports of impacts with such magnitude. Dicamba was first used this year on genetically modified soybean and cotton crops grown from seeds specially created to tolerate the weed killer. Unfortunately the herbicide has drifted to crops on nearby farms that don’t use the modified soybean seeds, causing the widespread damage.

Elon Musk has a bad day

Tesla stock took a big tumble on Thursday as shareholders reacted to the ongoing production delays of the Model 3 vehicle. As CNBC writes, Elon Musk blamed himself for the problems, and said that he is literally camping at the Gigafactory, where the electric cars are produced. Working on the module line at two in the morning, Musk had recently been through, in his own words, “level nine” of Dante’s “Inferno.” According to Forbes, the future-facing entrepreneur’s personal wealth fell by $800 million and Tesla stock is trading at its lowest price since May.