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Update on the latest business

July 11, 2018


Renewed tariff threats weighs on stocks

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are falling after the Trump administration released a list of goods that could be hit with tariffs and China said it would retaliate.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced a $200 billion list on Wednesday of Chinese goods for possible 10 percent tariffs. They include vacuum cleaners, furniture and car and bicycle parts, but not U.S.-branded smartphones and laptops. It is scheduled to make a decision on the potential tariffs after Aug. 31.

Energy and industrial companies and basic materials makers are taking some of the worst losses, along with chip makers, which make large portions of their sales in China.

The declines follow a four-day winning streak for U.S. stocks.


US wholesale prices shoot up 3.4 percent over past year

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale prices increased 0.3 percent in June, a slight slowing from May. But the 12-month gain was the fastest in more than six years, adding to evidence that inflation is beginning to rise after years of weak price gains.

The Labor Department says the June increase in its producer price index — which measures inflation pressures before they reach the consumer — followed a more rapid 0.5 percent rise in May. The deceleration reflected a big drop in food costs in June and a much smaller increase in energy prices.

Wholesale prices over the past 12 months have risen 3.4 percent. It is the largest 12-month gain since a 3.7 percent rise in the 12 months ending in November 2011.


Senate voices protest over Trump’s aluminum, steel tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers have finally acted on their frustration with the Trump administration’s growing use of tariffs.

The Senate has passed a modest, nonbinding resolution designed to give Congress more say about trade penalties imposed in the name of national security.

The resolution has passed by an 88-11 vote. It directs a congressional committee that’s reconciling separate spending bills to include language giving Congress a role when such tariffs are put in place.

Negotiators are free to ignore the Senate’s guidance.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who pushed the tariff language, acknowledges the effort is “a baby step.”

Some senators are portraying it as a rebuke of President Donald Trump’s use of a national security waiver to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.


US says WTO must do more on China trade policies

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization is calling for the global trade body to update its rules to deal with complaints about Chinese industrial policies that he said harm other countries.

Dennis Shea has accused China of causing “serious harm” to WTO partners by failing to live up to free-trade principles. He said that “must be addressed” by the trade body or others.

“This reckoning can no longer be put off,” he said according to prepared remarks in a closed-door session.

He spoke Wednesday at China’s turn for a regular WTO review of countries’ trade policies.

The U.S., Europe and others want the WTO to overhaul its rules to take account of industrial policy, state-owned industry and other issues over which Beijing has sparred with its trading partners.


China auto sales growth weakens in June amid trade battle

BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales decelerated in June, adding to economic worries for Beijing amid a worsening trade battle with Washington.

An industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said Wednesday sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans rose 2.3 percent in the most populous auto market, down from May’s 7.9 percent.

Weakness in auto sales comes as China’s economic growth cools after the government tightened controls on bank lending to curb surging debt.


BMW says no change in South Carolina expansion plans

(Information in the following story is from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — BMW says it still plans to add 1,000 workers in South Carolina, even as the company starts production of a new vehicle in China.

Spokesman Ken Sparks told the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg that BMW’s new electric iX3 SUV will be produced only in China, and that effort won’t affect production of the new X7 model in South Carolina.

But BMW’s U.S. manufacturing remains vulnerable to a trade war. China imposed another 25 percent charge on imports from the U.S., prompting BMW this week to announce higher Chinese sticker prices. The South Carolina plant exports more than two thirds of the 400,000 vehicles it has produced annually, mostly to China.

Small Business Chamber President Frank Knapp says BMW’s suppliers need more details, so they can know how many people to employ.


Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox ups Sky bid in Comcast battle

LONDON (AP) — Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has increased its bid to take full control of Sky in its prolonged battle with Comcast for the lucrative pay TV service.

Fox increased Wednesday its bid to 14 pounds ($18.58) a share as it seeks the 61 percent of Sky not already under its control.

The company says this is 12 percent higher than the last bid from U.S.-based Comcast. The new bid values Sky at 24.5 billion pounds ($32.5 billion).

Fox has increased its bid by just over 30 percent since its first offer in December 2016.

Murdoch’s company still faces significant regulatory battles in Britain, including the culture secretary’s statement that Fox would have to divest itself of Sky News to win government approval because of concerns about media plurality.


Pfizer reorganizes to handle aging consumers and patents

NEW YORK (AP) — Pfizer, facing an aging population and shifting risks from the loss of patents, is reshaping the company into three businesses.

The three divisions, announced Wednesday, include Innovative Medicines, which will focus on biological science and other technologies needed to address an aging population. The Established Medicines business will handle generic and off-brand medication. Lastly, the Consumer Healthcare business will handle over-the-counter medicines.

The company, based in New York City, also plans to fold its biosimilar portfolio into its oncology and inflammation and immunology units.

Pfizer Inc. expects a significant reduction in the impact of patent protection losses after 2020 following the loss of exclusivity for Lyrica in the U.S., which is anticipated to occur around December.

The reorganization will occur at the start of fiscal 2019.


2nd drug company wants to intervene in execution

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A second drug company is asking to intervene in a last-minute Nevada court hearing hours before a twice-convicted killer is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection.

Drug company Sandoz wants to join New Jersey-based drugmaker Alvogen in its objection to the Wednesday evening execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.

Sandoz produces the paralytic cisatracurium and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which are two of the three drugs Nevada had planned to use on Dozier in a first-of-its-kind combination.

Alvogen produces the sedative midazolam, which Nevada Department of Prisons Brooke Santina says Wednesday was the first drug scheduled to be used on Dozier according to the protocol signed by department director James Dzurenda. She says she did not know of any alternative.


Judge approves revised Weinstein Co. bankruptcy sale plan

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge has approved a revised plan for the sale of the Weinstein Co., the studio forced into bankruptcy by the sexual misconduct scandal that brought down Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The plan approved Wednesday calls for private equity firm Lantern Capital to pay $289 million for the Weinstein Co.’s assets.

Lantern initially agreed to pay $310 million, but a dispute later arose over who would responsible for making payments, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, owed on certain contracts that may be assigned to Lantern.

In return for Lantern paying certain claims and funding the past two weeks of the Weinstein Co.’s operating expenses, the sale price was reduced.

The sale is expected to close Friday, but claims asserted by several Hollywood stars will be resolved later.


Trump administration slashes ‘Obamacare’ sign-up assistance

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time in days, the Trump administration is taking action to undercut the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Tuesday announced steep funding cuts for sign-up assistance through state-based programs called “navigators.”

Financing for the 2019 enrollment season is being cut to $10 million from $36 million. The program was also cut last year.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma says the navigators just aren’t cost effective. New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone called the cuts more “sabotage” from the administration.

Last weekend, the administration announced it is freezing payments by an ACA program meant to stabilize premiums.

But despite President Donald Trump’s disdain for “Obamacare,” enrollment for subsidized private coverage has been fairly steady, with about 10 million people currently signed up.


CEO of Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power company abruptly resigns

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The CEO of Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power company has resigned just months after he was chosen to oversee its privatization as the U.S. territory struggles to restore electricity to the last of those who remain in the dark nearly 10 months after Hurricane Maria.

Wednesday’s resignation of Walter Higgins adds to challenges for a company that is $9 billion in debt and has seen a turnover of leaders since the Category 4 storm hit Puerto Rico.

Higgins was named CEO of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority in March and was expected to help strengthen the power grid and supervise deals to privatize the generation of energy and award concessions for transmission and distribution.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Higgins resigned for personal reasons. No further details were available.

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