Business Briefs – March 18, 2018

Trump’s Possible China Tariffs Bring Loud Protests — in U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is considering sweeping tariffs on imports from China, with an announcement possible as early as next week. And that has sent industry groups and some lawmakers scrambling to prevent the next front in a potential trade war that could reverberate across the U.S. economy.

EU Releases List of US Products That Could Face Tariffs

BRUSSELS (AP) – The EU has published a list of U.S. products it plans to introduce duties on if the 28-nation bloc is not exempted from President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. The EU’s executive Commission said Friday that European industry stakeholders have 10 days to raise objections if they believe any products targeted for “rebalancing” tariffs would hurt their business.

A Media Giant in the Balance: AT&T Antitrust Trial Kicks Off

NEW YORK (AP) – AT&T squares off Monday against the federal government in a trial that could shape how you get — and how much you pay for — streaming services. AT&T says it needs to gobble up Time Warner if it’s to have a chance against the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Google in the rapidly evolving world of video entertainment. The government says that if AT&T and Time Warner are allowed to join forces, consumers will end up paying more.

U.S. Factory Output Jumped 1.2 Percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. factory output jumped last month, led by big gains in the production of cars, computers, and furniture. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing output rebounded 1.2 percent in February, the most since October and following three months of weak or negative readings.

U.S. Job Openings Soar to Record High of 6.3 Million

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. employers sharply ramped up their demand for workers in January, advertising 6.3 million jobs at the end of the month, the most on records dating back 17 years. The Labor Department says the number of job opening soared 645,000 in January, the largest one-month increase in about 2½ years. The report shows that overall hiring increased by a much smaller amount than job openings, suggesting that employers are having difficulty finding the workers they need.

U.S. Says Russian Hack Did Not Compromise Power Grid, Plants

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal regulators say a Russian government hacking operation aimed at the U.S. power grid did not compromise operations at any of the nation’s power plants. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says corporate networks at some of the 99 nuclear power plants it licensed were affected by the 2017 hack, but no safety, security or emergency preparedness functions were impacted. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also says there was no operational impact on interstate transmission of electricity.

For Some Defrauded Students, Only Partial Loan Forgiveness

WASHINGTON (AP) – Some former Corinthian Colleges students have started getting letters telling them they’re still on the hook for half or more of their federal student loans. One student calls the action degrading and “a kick in my face.” But a spokeswoman for the Department of Education defends the decision to award defrauded students partial relief. She says it treats students and taxpayers fairly.

WSJ: Fed Investigation Into Wells Fargo Broadens

NEW YORK (AP) – The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a federal investigation into Wells Fargo has broadened beyond its retail banking unit to include its wealth-management division. The bank is still dealing with a scandal in which employees opened up millions of fake accounts without customer authorization. The Journal reports that the Justice Department is now investigating the bank’s wealth-management division.

LL Bean: No Bonus After Tough Year, More Jobs to Be Cut

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) – L.L. Bean says sales declined slightly over the past year and that there will be no bonus for workers for the first time since 2008. The Maine-based outdoors retailer announced Friday annual revenue of $1.6 billion, which was nearly flat. CEO Steve Smith said cost-cutting efforts are putting the company on a path “to a more prosperous future.”