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Economy

CEO of rail operator Union Pacific sees 'plenty of opportunity' for economic growth

Key Points
  • "There's still plenty of opportunity to grow if we get certain things right, like trade policy," says Union Pacific's Lance Fritz. "We're set up still pretty well."
  • CSX CEO James Foote told shareholders earlier this week that the present economic backdrop is "one of the most puzzling I have experienced in my career."
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Union Pacific CEO: US economy growing at 'tepid' pace

The U.S. economy is "set up ... pretty well" with room to grow, according to the CEO of one of the country's largest railroad operators.

Union Pacific Chief Executive Lance Fritz, in a CNBC interview Thursday, struck a more optimistic tone than the head of another rail company did earlier this week.

Economic growth has "definitely slowed down a bit," Fritz acknowledged. "There's still plenty of opportunity to grow if we get certain things right, like trade policy. But we're set up still pretty well."

Fritz's comments contrast with those of James Foote, CEO of CSX. Foote told shareholders earlier this week that the present economic backdrop is "one of the most puzzling I have experienced in my career."

Late Tuesday, CSX reported quarterly earnings and revenue that missed expectations, sending the stock down more than 10%. Union Pacific also dropped after the CSX report.

Union Pacific shares rebounded Thursday, rising 5.89% after the company's own quarterly report exceeded earnings expectations. Revenues, however, were light.

Fritz said it's "critically important" that the U.S. ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the trilateral deal that will replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trade deals with China as well as Europe and Japan still need to be worked out, he said. "[But] presuming we do that, I think the economy looks pretty sound to me."

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Politics

House passes bill to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

Key Points
  • The House passes a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • House Democrats see it as a major part of their economic platform as they contend a strong economy and roaring stock market have not boosted the working class.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to take the bill up, while President Donald Trump has threatened to veto it.