The daily business briefing: January 11, 2019

Harold Maass
Government workers protest the shutdown
Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Federal workers protest shutdown as it ties record for longest in history

Hundreds of federal workers furloughed under a partial government shutdown joined contractors, union representatives, and supporters Thursday in a protest outside the White House, calling on President Trump and Congress to reopen the government. "We want to send a very strong message — that this is not about politics, it's about getting people back to work," said Brittany Holder, a spokeswoman for the NFFE and a protest organizer. Roughly 800,000 federal workers sent home or working without pay head into their first payday with no checks on Friday at the end of the shutdown's third week. On Friday, it tied for the longest government closure in U.S. history, and senators have gone home for the weekend, ensuring it will set a record. [The Washington Post, Time]


Eddie Lampert confirms his higher bid to save Sears

Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert confirmed Thursday that he had upped his bid to take over the struggling iconic retailer to more than $5 billion. Sears will review Lampert's revised offer in a Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction. The company had rejected his previous bid of $4.4 billion, saying it wasn't enough. Now the company will weigh whether Lampert's new bid offers better value to investors than liquidation. Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, said in a statement that its offer would "provide substantially more value to stakeholders than any other option, in particular a liquidation," and "the best path forward for Sears." Lampert's proposal seeks to preserve the jobs of 50,000 Sears workers. [Reuters]


Stock futures edge back after fifth straight day of gains

U.S. stock futures inched down early Friday after shaking off early losses on Thursday to close with their fifth straight day of gains, the longest winning streak since September. Disappointing holiday sales reported by Macy's, and a guidance cut by American Airlines, got the day off to a rough start Thursday, dragging down retail and airline shares. Fear of an extended government shutdown didn't help. But the Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered and closed up by 0.5 percent as the real estate and industrial sectors finished strong. The broader S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite both gained more than 0.4 percent. [CNBC]


Jaguar Land Rover to cut 4,500 jobs to reduce costs

Jaguar Land Rover announced Thursday that it would cut 4,500 jobs under a plan to reduce costs. The layoffs would come on top of 1,500 departures from the company last year. The latest move followed a sharp drop in profitability for the British automaker, owned by India's Tata Motors, at the end of 2018. Jaguar Land Rover is fast-tracking its efforts to offer more electric vehicles as sales of diesel models fall. The company also has seen sales fall around 42 percent in December and 22 percent over all of 2018 in China, the company's largest market. The backtracking contributed to a $115 million pre-tax loss in a 2018 quarter after a $491 million profit in the same period the year before. [Jalopnik, CNN]


Ghosn charged with breach of trust

The Tokyo District Court said Friday that former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been charged with breach of trust. Ghosn was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income by $44 million over five years ending in 2015. Ghosn's attorneys had requested that he be released on bail, but the new charges, which were filed as his detention on suspicion of breach of trust was due to expire, made it unlikely he would get out soon. Tokyo prosecutors argued against bail, saying Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, is a flight risk. Ghosn said in his first court appearance earlier this week that he is innocent and has "a genuine love and appreciation for Nissan." [The Associated Press]