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Update on the latest business

August 27, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising broadly in on word of a tentative trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico.

Industrial companies, banks and big technology stocks are among the biggest winners in midday trading on Wall Street.

Automakers are climbing as investors hope the agreement will prevent tariffs on imported cars. General Motors rose 4.3 percent and Ford climbed 2.8 percent. Tesla fell 2 percent after CEO Elon Musk said he was scrapping the idea of taking the electric car maker private.

Stocks finished at record highs Friday. On Monday the Nasdaq composite traded above 8,000 for the first time.

US-MEXICO-TRADE

US and Mexico tentatively set to replace NAFTA with new deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and Mexico have reached a preliminary accord to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and replace it with a deal that the administration wants to be more favorable to the United States.

In announcing the tentative agreement Monday at the White House, President Donald Trump said a new deal would be called “the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. Trump has frequently condemned the 24-year-old NAFTA trade pact as a job-killing “disaster” for the United States.

Any new agreement is far from final. The administration still needs to negotiate with the third partner in NAFTA, Canada, to become part of any new trade accord. Without Canada, America’s No. 2 trading partner, it’s unclear whether any new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico would be possible.

The president said that he will be calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump put pressure on Canada by threatening to tax Canadian auto imports and to leave Canada out of a new regional trade bloc.

NAFTA reduced most trade barriers between the three countries. But Trump and other critics say it encouraged U.S. manufacturers to move south of the border to exploit low-wage Mexican labor.

WTO-CHINA-US

China disputes latest US tariffs at World Trade Organization

GENEVA (AP) — China is challenging the latest round of U.S. tariffs against Chinese goods through the World Trade Organization.

The Chinese government on Monday formally requested “dispute consultations” with the United States over the Trump administration’s imposition of $16 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods last week. China has responded with similar taxes on U.S. goods.

Its request to the World Trade Organization opens a 60-day period for the two countries to hold talks.

China already is holding talks with the U.S. about its previous tariffs on both Chinese steel and aluminum products and over alleged Chinese violations of U.S. intellectual property protections.

All told, the administration is preparing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products. China has vowed to retaliate on American goods worth $60 billion.

FRANCE-WORLD TRADE

France’s Macron calls for world trade discussion in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has called for trade discussions to be held between the U.S., Europe, China and Japan in November in Paris.

In a speech to French ambassadors Monday, Macron said world trade rules aren’t currently working but “unilateralism and trade war is the worst response.”

He proposed to organize a meeting on the issue on the margins of World War One commemorations on Nov. 11 in Paris, since he has invited dozens of world leaders to the event including U.S. President Donald Trump, who said he would come.

“I think we can build a fairer and more efficient system. I think we should not give in to one’s hegemony and everyone’s division”, Macron said in a reference to Trump’s trade policies to impose tariffs on countries like China.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

Trade cease-fire with Trump boosts German business optimism

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A leading economic institute says its index of German business optimism rose in August thanks to an easing of trade tensions between the European Union and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The index compiled by the Munich-based Ifo institute rose to 103.8 points from 101.7 in July. The result was better than the 101.8 expected by market analysts.

Ifo President Clemens Fuest said Monday that “aside from a strong domestic economy the cease-fire in the trade conflict with the U.S. contributed to the better mood.”

Trump had threatened to impose new tariffs, raising fears of a cycle of retaliation that could hurt trade and growth. But Trump agreed to hold off after talks with European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, gets much of its growth from exports.

UNITED STATES-RUSSIA-SANCTIONS

US sanctions on Russia over nerve agent attack take effect

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom go into effect Monday.

The Trump administration announced earlier this month its intention to impose the sanctions after the U.S. determined that Russia had illegally used a chemical weapon in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Details of the measures were published in the Federal Register on Monday. The sanctions tighten restrictions on exports of national security-sensitive items but provide waivers in areas such as commercial passenger aviation.

A second set of sanctions is required in three months unless Russia provides assurances it won’t use chemical weapons again. Those sanctions could hit Moscow harder if they target Russia’s state-controlled banks.

Moscow denies it poisoned the Skripals.

3D GUN-LAWSUIT

Judge blocks online plans for printing untraceable 3D guns

SEATTLE (AP) — A U.S. judge in Seattle has blocked the Trump administration from allowing a Texas company to post online plans for making untraceable 3D guns.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia had sought an injunction to stop a settlement that the government had reached with Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed.

The states argued that online access to the undetectable plastic guns would pose a security risk and could be acquired by felons or terrorists.

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik agreed Monday, saying the government’s actions “not only impact national security but have domestic repercussions as well.”

The State Department had reached the deal with the company after the agency removed the 3D gun-making plans from a list of weapons or technical data that are not allowed to be exported.

AUTO EXECUTIVE CHARGED

Ex-Fiat Chrysler exec gets 5 ½ years in union bribery case

DETROIT (AP) — A former Fiat Chrysler executive was sentenced to 5 ½ years in federal prison Monday in a scheme to curry favor with union officials by buying them expensive gifts.

Former head of labor relations Alphons Iacobelli admitted that he turned the budget of a company-sponsored training center into a slush fund. He’s the highest-ranking company official sentenced thus far in a federal probe that includes training centers at General Motors and Ford.

Prosecutors have said in court documents that the goal was to get benefits and concessions for Fiat Chrysler in the negotiation and execution of contracts between the company and the United Auto Workers.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported that Iacobelli apologized, accepted responsibility and pledged cooperation in the probe before U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

DISNEY LABOR

Disney offers 46-percent raises, could use more part-timers

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The proposed contract Walt Disney World’s unionized workers will vote on next week would increase the starting minimum wage by at least 46 percent over three years to $15 an hour, while enabling Disney to use more part-time workers and require new workers to stay in their positions longer before transferring.

The new details emerged Monday about the proposal, which would raise wages for existing workers by at least $4.75 an hour over three years. The contract ends in 2022.

The deal covers more than half the Florida resort’s 70,000 workers. It was reached late last week after about a year of negotiations.

If the contract is ratified, Florida workers each will receive a $1,000 bonus that Disney had paid to other workers following last year’s tax cut by Congress.

FOXCONN-WISCONSIN

Foxconn, UW-Madison sign $100 million agreement

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group says it will invest $100 million in engineering and innovation research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The deal announced Monday is one of the largest gifts in the university’s history and comes as the Taiwan-based electronics giant builds its first North American factory in southeastern Wisconsin.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou and UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank signed an agreement that also calls for Foxconn and the university to create a science and technology institute on the UW-Madison campus.

Blank says the $100 million deal is the largest industry research partnership in the school’s history.

Foxconn is the world’s leading electronics manufacturer. It chose Wisconsin for its first plant outside of Asia after receiving generous incentives from the state. Foxconn says the plant could cost up to $10 billion and eventually employ 13,000 people.

MEAT-MISSOURI LAW

Tofurky sues to stop Missouri law over meat terminology

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Vegetarian food-maker Tofurky is suing to defend its right to describe its products with meat terminology like “sausage” and “hot dogs,” as long as the packaging makes clear what the ingredients are.

The Oregon-based company and an advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit Monday to stop a Missouri law that would prohibit “misrepresenting” products as meat if they’re not from “harvested livestock or poultry.” The statute, which is scheduled to take effect Tuesday, comes amid a broader debate over what to call emerging meat alternatives.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, which supported the statute, says its concern isn’t with products like Tofurky that make clear they’re from plants. It is with the emerging science of meat grown by culturing animal cells in a lab, and whether they’ll disclose how they were made.

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