Global Glance: Deal to streamline world trade takes effect; Wells Fargo fires four senior managers in sales scandal inquiry

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

Deal to streamline world trade takes effect

GENEVA (AP) — The first multilateral trade agreement reached under the World Trade Organization since it was created over a generation ago has taken force, aiming to streamline cross-border trade to the benefit of the developing world in particular. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said Wednesday that the required two-thirds of member states have ratified the accord. He said estimates show that full implementation of the deal would reduce trade costs globally by an average of more than 14 percent. Read more

Wells Fargo fires four senior managers in sales scandal inquiry

NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo’s board of directors fired four senior managers as part of its investigation into the bank’s sales practices scandal. Tuesday’s announcement is the first public firing of managers and executives since Wells acknowledged in September that its employees opened up to 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customer authorization in order to meet lofty sales goals. When the scandal first broke, Wells had said it had fired roughly 5,300 employees as a result of the scandal, the vast majority of them lower-level workers. Read more

End of the Euro? French candidate plots return of the Franc

PARIS (AP) — If Marine Le Pen has her way, the French will soon pay for their baguettes with francs, not euros. The presidential candidate from the anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front party is all about national sovereignty and independence. She wants France to take control of its money, subject to a referendum that would lead France out of the European Union and its shared currency. But how would France pull off a euro exit, or “Frexit”? Read more

Wal-Mart keeps working to make inroads against Amazon

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s largest retailer keeps working to make headway against the largest online seller. Wal-Mart drew more shoppers to its namesake stores in the United States and its online sales soared 29 percent in the fourth quarter, which covers the critical holiday shopping season. That’s an indication that its efforts to lower prices and improve web services are helping it compete better against Amazon, which has built fierce loyalty with its Prime two-day shipping program. Read more

US shutting down Dakota Access oil pipeline protest camp

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to close a Dakota Access pipeline protest camp that’s been around for more than six months isn’t likely to be the demise of on-the-ground opposition in North Dakota. Wednesday’s deadline for the protesters to leave also may not spell the end of the heavy law enforcement presence near where the Dallas-based developer is finishing the last big section of the pipeline, which will carry oil from North Dakota through the Dakotas and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. Read more

Italy faces potential EU censure for rising debt levels

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is warning Italy that it may face censure for not doing enough to get its debt levels down to prescribed levels. In its annual economic analysis of EU countries, the executive European Commission is urging Italian authorities to come up with additional measures, worth up to 0.2 percent of its annual GDP. Pierre Moscovici, the commissioner responsible for economic and financial affairs, said Wednesday that Italy hasn’t reduced its debt in line with the agreed path. Italian debt is expected to rise to around 133 percent of GDP. Read more

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