Quest: The heroes behind aviation's safest year

Why flying in 2017 was safer than ever
Why flying in 2017 was safer than ever

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As a road warrior who spends many days in the air, I read with keen interest the surveys showing 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial aviation (defined as the world's commercial airliners). Sadly, there were deaths on cargo flights and in private general aviation, but there were no crashes resulting in deaths on the world's airlines.

This is in an achievement. It has only come about because of the enormous amount of hard work and investment in aviation that has ensured it remains the safest form of travel. (It's a shame President Trump chose to try to take credit for this remarkable result when the true heroes are the men and women who toil to make flying safe).

So -- on this first letter of the year -- let me give a shout out to: the plane makers who build machines that withstand the forces of nature as we hurtle through the air; the mechanics and engineers who maintain these flying machines in peak condition; the pilots and their instructors who ensure the highest levels of qualifications and -- not least nor last -- the air traffic controllers who manage the ever-increasing number of planes in the skies.

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Make no mistake -- this level of safety hasn't happened by accident. It is the result of a laser focused obsession by an industry that knows the perils of getting it wrong.

I flew more than 250,000 miles in 2017, and expect to do a similar amount this year. To all who keep us safe: Thank you.

Corporate America shares some tax savings

company bonus

Bank of America. Comcast. Wells Fargo. Southwest.

These blue chip companies decided to give workers bonuses after President Trump signed the new tax bill into law. Utility Dominion Energy even plans to give $1.3 billion to customers of the South Carolina electric company SCANA that it plans to buy.

But only a handful of major firms have actually announced plans to use tax savings to help Main Street. Many more are expected to buy back more stock instead so they can boost earnings per share.

And some Wall Street strategists warn that even that lift to earnings will prove to be only temporary.

-- Paul R. La Monica

America could get crowned oil king this year

US oil Saudi Russia

Russia and Saudi Arabia have dominated the global oil landscape for four decades. But for the first time since 1975, the U.S. could soon surpass both as the world's top oil producer.

The U.S. shale oil industry has rebounded nicely from the crash of two years ago thanks to higher prices and better technology. President Trump wants to accelerate this trend by cutting regulation.

Regardless of the driver, booming domestic oil output has lessened the need to rely on crude from unstable places like Venezuela and the Middle East.

-- Matt Egan

Dow tops 25K. Rally shows no sign of ending

dow 25000 stocks wall street

New year. Same stock gains.

The Dow powered through the 25,000 level for the first time Thursday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit new all-time highs, too.

The market has cruised past several big milestones in the past year, largely due to optimism about the economy and President Trump's pro-business policies. Many experts think strong earnings growth will keep the party going -- and that Netflix and other hot techs will continue to lead the rally.

The market momentum could lead to more IPOs on the resurgent NYSE in 2018 as well.

-- Paul R. La Monica

Iceland's new equal pay law marks a first

equal pay day women retirement

Iceland is serious about getting rid of the gender pay gap.

On Monday, a law went into effect that requires employers in the Nordic country to prove they pay men and women who work in the same jobs equally. If they don't, they could be fined.

While discrimination based on gender is already illegal in many countries, Iceland is the first nation to make firms obtain equal pay certification from the government.

-- Julia Horowitz

Quick takes

6 ways life will change in Saudi Arabia in 2018

Pakistan cozies up to China on trade after Trump tweet

Australia wants to sell pot to the world

U.S. and South Korea to begin talks to renegotiate trade deal

Mexicans in the United States are sending a record amount of cash home

The maker of Marlboro cigarettes in the U.K. wants to give up on smoking

What's next

New tech in 2018: The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas next week. Several companies will debut the latest gadgets, games and apps for the new year.

Big banks, companies start reporting earnings: JPMorgan, Bank of America, PNC, and Wells Fargo report fourth quarter earnings next week. BlackRock and Delta Air Lines also reports their financials.

Potential Trump trade action on steel: The Trump administration could announce sweeping tariffs on imports of steel as soon as next week. The legal deadline for the Commerce Department's investigation into whether steel imports risk U.S. national security comes on Sunday January 14. It's an unusual investigation and intended to show President Trump's tough stance on trade.

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