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    Trump seeks SEC study of 6-month reporting instead of quarterly

    President Donald Trump.
    Al Drago/The New York Times/file
    President Donald Trump.

    President Donald Trump said he’s asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to study ending quarterly reporting for U.S. businesses in order to ease regulations and spur growth.

    “In speaking with some of the world’s top business leaders I asked what it is that would make business (jobs) even better in the U.S. ‘Stop quarterly reporting & go to a six month system,’ said one. That would allow greater flexibility & save money. I have asked the SEC to study!” Trump said in a Twitter post.

    Some corporate leaders and trade groups have vented about public companies’ focus on short-term earnings and revenue goals, arguing that it can prevent firms from growing their businesses and creating jobs. One criticism is that if companies are striving to report profit gains every quarter, they are more likely to buy back shares and cut costs than invest in their businesses.

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    Earlier this year, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon urged companies to stop issuing quarterly earnings guidance. But moving away from reporting earnings every three months would be a much more dramatic change that would almost certainly trigger resistance from shareholders who want transparency from the companies they invest in.

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    Quarterly reporting by public companies has long been a cornerstone of U.S. capital markets, with Wall Street analysts known for making closely monitored recommendations on buying or selling stock. While some business leaders have groaned about the rigors associated with having to meet targets and metrics four times a year, the SEC has been reticent to make any changes.

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    SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, a Trump nominee, has said increasing the number of public companies and initial public offerings are among his top priorities. Still, Clayton hasn’t floated reducing the number of times that companies must disclose their financial performance each year. As an independent agency, the SEC enjoys some level of independence from the White House.

    SEC spokesmen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Friday’s Twitter missive featured what has become a hallmark of Trump’s speeches -- unnamed leaders at unspecified companies supportive of his agenda. At a July rally in Florida, he said the chief executive of “one of the greatest companies in the world” urged him to press his tariff fight even though it would impact his business.

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    In some cases, events differ from one telling to another such as in Trump’s frequent retelling of a story involving a friend who hired ex-convicts and told him they were exemplary employees. Trump also cites conversations with unnamed foreign leaders, such as his claim a high-placed Chinese leader who said he’s the first president to stand up to that nation.