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Morning Brief: Investors eye rising Middle East tensions

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What to watch today

On Thursday, markets will be keeping an eye, as always, on President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and the rising tensions in the Middle East. On Wednesday, reports that a missile had been intercepted over Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sent oil prices to their highest level since 2014, while Trump’s early morning tweet that said missiles “will be coming” to Syria after Russian officials said they would shoot down any missiles fired at the nation. Trump’s tweet put stock futures under pressure before the market open, and stocks couldn’t get much momentum going during the trading day as each of the major indexes closed in the red.

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Top news

Fed sees GDP hit from trade war outweighing fleeting inflationA trade war would leave the U.S. Federal Reserve having to decide between battling weaker economic growth or rising prices. Which one it focuses on already looks pretty clear. Minutes of the U.S. central bank’s March 20-21 policy meeting, published Wednesday, showed “a strong majority of participants viewed the prospect of retaliatory trade actions by other countries, as well as other issues and uncertainties associated with trade policies, as downside risks for the U.S. economy.” [Bloomberg]

Redstone has a $187M reason not to push CBS’s Moonves out: If Leslie Moonves’s CBS Corp. (CBS) can’t agree on a deal with Viacom Inc. (VIAB), Shari Redstone still has a $187 million reason to keep the media boss around. That’s based on the payout that Moonves would stand to collect if his contract is terminated before it expires. Redstone, the controlling shareholder of both companies and the catalyst for renewed negotiations, has the power to oust management to get the merger she wants. [Bloomberg]

Ryan poised to earn millions: Paul Ryan will easily add to his already considerable net worth if he opts to stray from his native Wisconsin to join a corporate board or dabble in Washington power struggles when he retires next year as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ryan, 48, who said he was retiring to be more than a “weekend dad,” could easily follow the path of previous congressional leaders, including Newt Gingrich and Richard Gephardt, who became corporate directors. [Bloomberg]

Here’s what Zuckerberg had to say on Capitol Hill: Facebook (FB) CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for five more hours of wide-ranging questions, this time from the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committees. The topics were familiar from Tuesday and revolved around the Cambridge Analytica controversy, whether Facebook users own their data, and whether Facebook mishandled user privacy in general over the years. The jabs were slightly harsher, as some lawmakers underscored and outlined Zuckerberg’s lack of knowledge as it pertained to certain critical issues and company missteps. [Yahoo Finance]

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Vehicles travel on photovoltaic lanes developed by Qilu Transportation Development Group Co. on a highway in Jinan, China. About 45,000 vehicles barrel over the 3,540-foot-long section every day, and the solar panels inside generate enough electricity to power highway lights and 800 homes, according to Qilu Transportation. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

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The Morning Brief provides a quick rundown on what to watch in the markets, top news stories, and the best of Yahoo Finance Originals.