The Air Force said Wednesday that it will award Boeing the contract to build the next Air Force One.
The contract will not be competitive, because Boeing’s 747-8 is the only plane made in the United States that can meet the requirements for the presidential aircraft while also being “consistent with the national public interest,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement.
A contract has not yet been awarded. Pentagon officials are still working out details with Boeing, the Air Force said. James said that the Pentagon “will insist upon program affordability through cost-conscious procurement practices.”
The plane is expected to reach its initial operational capability by 2023.
— Christian Davenport
Greece’s new radical left government has fired the first salvo in what is expected to be a tough clash with fellow euro-zone countries over budget cuts that Athens says are choking the life out of its economy.
The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday that it would ignore key budget commitments, privatizations and policy changes that previous administrations had promised in exchange for rescue loans.
The hard line prompted a quick warning from the European Union and sent local investors into a panic on the prospect that the country might get cut off from its financial lifeline. Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange tumbled more than 9 percent, with the country’s four main banks losing over a quarter of their value.
Government bond yields spiked, particularly for short-dated debt, an indication investors are more worried about a default in the short term. The rate on 10-year bonds spiked to around 10.5 percent, while the three-year yield hit 16.7 percent.
The Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency warned it could downgrade Greece if talks with its creditors stall.
Tsipras’s Syriza party won general elections over the weekend on a pledge to scrap some austerity budget cuts and tax hikes. As Tsipras’s ministers took up their positions Wednesday, they announced they were abandoning several commitments: the privatization of Greece’s power utility, a refinery, the country’s two biggest ports and several airports would be scrapped, and the minimum wage would be restored to pre-crisis levels.
— Associated Press
● Facebook beat profit and revenue forecasts for the seventh quarter in a row, continuing to win more mobile advertising revenue as most users shift to using the site on smartphones and other portable devices. The world’s biggest online social network said advertising revenue jumped 53 percent to $3.59 billion for the fourth quarter — with mobile ad revenue representing 69 percent of the total. That percentage has grown steadily in each quarter of this year. Facebook’s massive user base also continued to climb. It had 1.39 billion monthly active users at the end of the year, up 13 percent from a year earlier. Daily users totaled 890 million, up 18 percent. Mobile monthly active users jumped 26 percent to 1.19 billion.
● Samsung Electronics said its quarterly earnings dropped a smaller-than-expected 27 percent in the fourth quarter, but its forecast-beating profit could not mask that it was losing the battle of the big phones with Apple. Samsung said Thursday that its sales of the Galaxy Note 4, its flagship big-size smartphone, increased from the third quarter. But the South Korean company said its overall smartphone sales during the quarter were between 72.2 million and 75.1 million units, confirming analysts’ forecast that Apple, at its record-high 74.5 million sales of iPhones during the same quarter, has narrowed its smartphones shipments gap with Samsung. The company said its October-to-December earnings were $4.9 billion, compared with $6.8 billion a year earlier.
● James P. Moran, the recently retired Democratic congressman from Northern Virginia, is joining the law firm McDermott Will & Emery in Washington. Moran is slated to begin work as a senior legislative adviser at McDermott on Monday. He will not have an equity stake in the firm. Ethics rules bar Moran from formally registering to lobby for one year, but he said he anticipates doing so after the year-long ban ends. McDermott has 1,100 lawyers globally, including about 200 in Washington.
● California health officials declared electronic cigarettes a health threat that should be strictly regulated like tobacco products, joining other states and health advocates across the United States in seeking tighter controls as “vaping” grows in popularity. The California Department of Public Health report said e-cigarettes emit cancer-causing chemicals and get users hooked on nicotine, but it acknowledged that more research needs to be done to determine the immediate and long-term health effects.
● A pipeline that ruptured in North Dakota and spilled nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater produced during oil drilling was not inspected by the state before being installed, according to state regulators. Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry, said it is common for officials not to inspect such small gathering pipelines before they become operational. North Dakota relies on the word of companies, which are required to file an affidavit stating that they have followed state-mandated procedures when implementing the smaller pipelines.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims.
● 10 a.m.: Weekly mortgage rates.
● Earnings: Alibaba, Amazon.com, Ford, Google, Visa.