The daily business briefing: November 18, 2019

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Harold Maass
The Mustang Mach-E
MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images
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1.

HP board rejects Xerox takeover offer

HP said Sunday that its board of directors unanimously rejected smaller printing rival Xerox's bid to acquire the computer and printer maker. HP said in a statement that its board "considered the highly conditional and uncertain nature of the proposal" and concluded that the deal would create a combined company too laden with debt. HP also said the offer "significantly undervalues HP" so it was not in shareholders' best interest, although the board said it might consider a merger with Xerox later. Xerox said in its offer letter that the industry is "overdue for consolidation and that those who move first will have a distinct advantage." Activist investor Carl Icahn owns 10.6 percent of Xerox and recently invested $1.2 billion in HP, pushing for a merger to save money for both companies. [USA Today]

2.

Ford unveils all-electric Mustang Mach-E

Ford on Sunday unveiled its all-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E, an SUV based on the automaker's new EV architecture. The Mach-E marks an attempt to expand the appeal of the iconic Mustang and lure in a new generation of buyers. The Mach-E is the first Mustang that isn't a two-door sports car. The vehicle, with a starting price of about $44,000, is part of Ford's $11 billion effort to introduce 40 new electric and hybrid models by 2022. Ford said the Mach-E would get 210 miles to 300-plus miles on a charge, depending on the battery option. The Mach-E's performance and price will rival Tesla's Model Y SUV. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the Mach-E also will have the company's new hands-free driver assist system, similar to Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's Super Cruise systems. [CNBC]

3.

Trump reportedly backtracks on banning kid-friendly flavored e-cigarettes

President Trump has changed his mind about banning e-cigarettes with youth-friendly flavors like mint, candy, and fruit, The Washington Post and The New York Times report. A Trump adviser told the Post that Trump declined to sign a Nov. 4 "decision memo" on the ban because of concerns from White House and re-election campaign officials that banning flavored e-cigarettes could lose him the vaper vote in key swing states. When Trump announced his intention to ban flavored e-cigarettes in early September, amid growing concerns about vaping-related lung disease and an explosion of youth vapers, he credited advocacy from first lady Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump. "He didn't know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka," a senior administration official told the Post. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

4.

U.S. stock futures rise as focus remains on U.S.-China trade

U.S. stock index futures rose early Monday as investors continued to focus on signs of movement toward a deal on easing the U.S.-China trade war. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by roughly 0.2 percent. Markets got a boost over the weekend from a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, which said that China's chief negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, had held "constructive" talks over the phone on Saturday with the leading Trump administration negotiators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Also, China announced an unexpected interest rate cut, the first since 2015. The move raised expectations for more efforts by Beijing to stimulate the world's second biggest economy. [CNBC]

5.

Ford v. Ferrari leads the domestic box office

Ford v. Ferrari led the box office over the weekend, bringing in $31 million in its North America debut. Strong word-of-mouth recommendations helped drive ticket sales above expectations for the film, directed by James Mangold and starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon. Two other high-profile new films, Charlie's Angels and The Good Liar, had disappointing opening weekends. Sony's action comedy Charlie's Angels opened in third place at $8.6 million, sandwiched between Lionsgate war drama Midway at $8.75 million and Paramount family film Playing with Fire, at $8.5 million. The Good Liar finished in eighth place with $5.6 million. [Variety]