Business Highlights

April 2, 2018


US vs. China: a ‘slap-fight,’ not a trade war. So far

WASHINGTON (AP) — First, the United States imposed a tax on Chinese steel and aluminum. Then, China counterpunched Monday with tariffs on a host of U.S. products, including apples, pork and ginseng. On Wall Street, the stock market buckled on the prospect of an all-out trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. But it hasn’t come to that — not yet, anyway.


China raises tariffs on US pork, fruit in trade dispute

BEIJING (AP) — China’s move to raise import duties on U.S. pork, apples and other products will hit American farm states, many of which voted for Donald Trump in 2016. But spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump isn’t going to back down in the escalating trade dispute with China. She tells “Fox and Friends” that Trump is “going to fight back and he’s going to push back.” China’s government says it’s responding to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum.


Tech woes, worsening tensions with China sink US stocks

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks tumbled Monday after China raised import duties on a number of U.S. exports, bringing the two economic giants closer to a full-on trade conflict. Big technology companies, long investor favorites, suffered heavy losses. The worries over newly protectionist U.S. trade policies combined with blowback over Facebook’s ever-widening privacy scandal have prompted investors to take money off the table. That has meant steep drops in former big winners including Netflix, Microsoft and Alphabet.


EPA to ease back emissions standards

NEW YORK (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency has set a plan to roll back emissions standards for cars and trucks but it didn’t specify details. The regulator said Monday standards set by President Barack Obama were inappropriate and too high.


Facebook CEO defends advertising-supported business model

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of Facebook is defending its advertising-supported business model. Mark Zuckerberg’s defense comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook said his company wouldn’t be in Facebook’s situation because Apple doesn’t sell ads based on customer data the way Facebook does. Zuckerberg responded Monday that an advertising-supported business model is the only way that the service can survive because not everyone would be able to pay for Facebook if it charged a fee.


Pace of US factory growth slipped in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers say they expanded at a slower pace in March. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, reports that its manufacturing index slipped to 59.3 last month from February’s reading of 60.8, which had been the highest since 2004. Any score above 50 signals growth. Multiple companies surveyed for the index said that the introduction of steel and aluminum tariffs by President Donald Trump were causing concerns about rising prices.


EPA says Pruitt’s condo lease didn’t violate ethics rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — An agency ethics official at the Environmental Protection Agency says Administrator Scott Pruitt’s lease of a Capitol Hill condo tied to a prominent fossil-fuels lobbyist didn’t violate federal rules. A memo signed by the official concludes that Pruitt’s $50-a-night rental payments constitute a fair market rate. Pruitt paid just for nights he occupied the unit, averaging $1,000 a month. Two-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood typically rent for three to four times that amount per month.


Puerto Rico gov defies board, rejects reform, pension cuts

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The powers of a federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances could soon be tested as the U.S. territory’s governor defies its calls to implement more austerity measures amid an 11-year recession. Gov. Ricardo Rossello on Monday rejected demands that his administration submit a revised fiscal plan to include a labor reform and a 10 percent cut to a pension system facing nearly $50 billion in liabilities. He said the plan he will submit Thursday also will not contain any layoffs.


French train strikes aim to disrupt travel, test Macron

PARIS (AP) — Trains around France are grinding to a stop as unions stage a mass strike to challenge President Emmanuel Macron’s strategy for making his country more economically competitive. Passengers are sharing cars or canceling trips after national railway SNCF said the strike will halt 85 percent of France’s high-speed trains and 75 percent of regional trains. A quarter of Air France flights will be grounded Tuesday by a separate strike over pay.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 58.99 points, or 2.2 percent, to 2,581.88. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 458.92 points, or 1.9 percent, to 23,644.19. The Nasdaq composite slumped 193.33 points, or 2.7 percent, to 6,870.12. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 36.90 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,492.53.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.93, or 3 percent, to $63.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid $1.70, or 2.5 percent, to $67.64 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline dropped 5 cents to $1.97 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4 cents to $1.98 a gallon. Natural gas slid 5 cents to $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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