Business Highlights

March 8, 2018


Trump announces stiff trade tariffs, unswayed by warnings

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump ordered steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports Thursday, vowing to fight back against what he called an “assault on our country” by foreign competitors. The president said he would exempt Canada and Mexico while negotiating for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was unswayed by the arguments of some advisers that he was risking an international trade war.


Health insurer Cigna buying Express Scripts for $52 billion

Health insurer Cigna is buying pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts. It’s the latest in a string of proposed buyouts and tie-ups in a rapidly shifting landscape for the health services industry. The $52 billion deal announced Thursday follows a bid late last year by CVS to buy the insurer Aetna.


Trump meets with video game execs and critics

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is reviving a debate over the link between gun violence and graphic depictions of violence in video games. He’s bringing members of the video game industry and some of their most vocal critics to the White House. Trump kicked off the meeting in the afternoon, but unlike with recent White House discussions on violence he did not open it to journalists.


11 nations to sign Pacific trade pact as US plans tariffs

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries have signed a sweeping agreement to streamline trade and slash tariffs just as U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to formalize new tariffs on aluminum and steel to protect U.S. producers. The deal signed Thursday in Chile’s capital is an outgrowth of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Trump pulled the U.S. out of last year.


US mortgage rates climb to 4-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates climbed this week to their highest average in more than four years. The increase is ratcheting up affordability pressures at the start of the traditional spring home buying season. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 4.46 percent this week from 4.43 percent last week. This marks the highest average since January 2014.


Senate GOP leaders add elements to bipartisan bank bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leaders have added some further limits on regulators as well as consumer benefits to legislation rolling back restraints on banks. This comes as substantial support from Democrats helps edge the bill closer to passage. The legislation before the Senate would alter key elements of the Dodd-Frank law enacted to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis 10 years ago that brought the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse. The Senate debated the measure Thursday.


UK trade minister slams talk of Brexit punishment by EU

LONDON (AP) — One of the British government’s biggest Brexit cheerleaders has taken aim at those in the European Union looking to punish Britain for its decision to leave the bloc as exhibiting gang-like tendencies. As Brexit talks appear to have hit an impasse particularly over what happens to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told U.K. business leaders Thursday that Brexit can work for all concerned if discussions are focused on economic matters.


Documents reveal immense outreach on Atlantic Coast Pipeline

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dominion Energy has gone to great lengths to build support for its approximately $6.5 billion dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Associated Press has documented the energy giant’s immense public outreach and lobbying efforts by obtaining public records and interviewing company officials, supporters and opponents of the pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Dominion officials say its efforts are transparent and match the project’s huge scope.


Stocks rise as Trump signs tariffs, but trade fears ease

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rise Thursday as President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on aluminum and steel imports appear to be less harsh than Wall Street had feared. The White House says Canada and Mexico will get indefinite exemptions from the tariffs and other countries will be able to seek exemptions as well. Health care companies are broadly higher as pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts jumps after health insurer Cigna agreed to buy it. Newspaper publisher Tronc plunged.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 12.17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,738.97. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 93.85 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,895.21. The Nasdaq composite rose 31.30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,427.95. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 2.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,571.97.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.03, or 1.7 percent, to $60.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 73 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $63.61 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline declined 4 cents to $1.87 a gallon. Heating oil dipped 2 cents to $1.86 a gallon. Natural gas slid 2 cents to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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