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The daily business briefing: January 9, 2019

Harold Maass
An Apple Store in Germany
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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1.

Report: Apple cutting iPhone production by 10 percent

Apple is cutting production of its new iPhones by 10 percent over the next three months, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Wednesday, citing sources with knowledge of the plans. Last week, Apple rattled tech stocks when it reported final-quarter 2018 revenue would be around $84 billion, down from its earlier guidance of $89 billion to $93 billion, due to weak iPhone sales in China. According to the sources, Apple asked suppliers late last month to produce fewer iPhones in the first quarter of 2019, marking the second such reduction in two months. The revised plans put iPhone production at 40 million to 43 million for the quarter, down from about 52 million in the same period last year. [Nikkei Asian Review]

2.

Judge gives Lampert final chance to buy Sears out of bankruptcy

A bankruptcy judge on Tuesday gave Sears chairman Eddie Lampert one last chance to buy the iconic retailer out of bankruptcy, which could save 50,000 jobs. Sears had planned to tell the judge it was rejecting Lampert's $4.4 billion offer because it would not cover its bankruptcy expenses. Lampert countered by pointing out that Sears' bankruptcy advisers had run up millions in fees. The judge gave Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, a chance to put up a $120 million deposit by 4 p.m. Wednesday. Then Sears will let Lampert participate in a scheduled Monday auction, in which his offer will be compared to those of other liquidators. It remained unclear where Lampert will get the money to back up his offer. [CNBC]

3.

Carbon emissions spiked in 2018

U.S. carbon emissions increased in 2018 for the first time in three years, resulting in the largest yearly spike since 2010. A Rhodium Group report found that the rise comes despite the fact that coal plants closed at the highest rate in three years. But industrial emissions — like those from steel and chemicals — saw a 5.7 percent rise in 2018. There was also a rise in emissions from transportation and electricity. Still, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 11 percent since 2005. The prospect of the U.S. cutting its carbon emissions between 26 and 28 percent in the next six years, as was outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement that President Trump has since said he will withdraw from, now looks nearly impossible, experts say. [The New York Times]

4.

New York mayor unveils plan to fund 'health care for all'

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday unveiled a $100 million plan to provide affordable "health care for all" city residents. The "NYC Care" plan would offer public health insurance on a sliding price scale based on income to the estimated 600,000 people in the city who don't have insurance, including undocumented immigrants and low-income residents not enrolled in Medicaid. The plan is schedule to launch later this year and reach all New Yorkers by 2021. De Blasio said it would be funded through the city's public health budget, but would be cost-effective because it would reduce hospital emergency room visits by uninsured patients, and help improve public health. "It involves taking the money we're spending right now and using it a lot better," de Blasio said. [Bloomberg]

5.

China, U.S. end extended trade talks

Chinese and U.S. negotiators wrapped up trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday after extending them into an unscheduled third day, signaling possible progress toward ending a trade war that has disrupted global markets. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the fact that both sides agreed to stretch out the talks indicated they were "very serious." Ted McKinney, U.S. under secretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, said the U.S. delegation was heading home after a "good few days." The lengthened talks were the first since President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day trade-war truce in December, and they fueled optimism among investors. U.S. stock futures edged higher early Wednesday, extending the week's gains. [Reuters, CNBC]