Morning Business Memo

Feb 22, 2012 8:53am

Would a proposed change in business taxes bring more jobs back to the United States from overseas? That’s one argument in favor of reform.

The Obama administration wants to lower the top tax rate for U.S .corporations to 28 percent from 35 percent. The plan calls for eliminating loopholes and subsidies and imposing a minimum tax on the overseas profits of U.S. companies. This might be a boost for many U.S. manufacturers, but some multinational firms with many employees overseas could take a hit.

The administration’s plan is not likely to go as far as a House Republican proposal to lower the rate to 25 percent. Conservative critics of the tax code say many businesses have delayed plans to hire more workers because of uncertainty about tax bills and regulations.

The proportion of small-business owners who plan to increase their company’s capital spending in the next 12 months is the highest in four years, according to the Wells Fargo-Gallup Small Business Index. Twenty-eight percent plan to boost spending while 23 percent expect a reduction. U.S. small-business owners’ views about the ease of obtaining credit have also become less negative

Global oil prices rose again this morning on futures markets. Crude hovered above $106 a barrel, a $10 jump from earlier this month. The U.S. Energy Department reports the average price of regular is now $3.59, up 7 cents in the past week.

The administration’s new consumer watchdog agency is launching an investigation into expensive overdraft fees charged by banks. This could lead to new rules, or even law suits, if banks are accused of violating consumer laws.

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