Business Briefs – March 29, 2018

Economic Growth in Q4 Revised Up to 2.9-Percent Rate

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy grew at a solid 2.9-percent annual rate in the final three months of last year, a sharp upward revision that caps three quarters of the fastest growth in more than a decade. The Trump administration is hoping the economy will accelerate further this year, aided by sizable tax cuts and increased government spending.

The gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, grew at a faster clip than its previous estimate of 2.5 percent, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

That 2.9-percent fourth-quarter advance followed gains of 3.1 percent in the second quarter and 3.2 percent in the third quarter. It’s the strongest nine-month stretch of growth in a dozen years, since the economy expanded at rates of 3.7 percent, 3.5 percent and 4.3 percent from the third quarter of 2004 through the first quarter of 2005.

Wednesday’s revision, the government’s third and final look at GDP in the quarter, was better than analysts had been expecting.

Zuckerberg Plans to Testify Before Congress

NEW YORK (AP) – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to testify before Congress about the company’s privacy practices in coming weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

This person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Zuckerberg is aware there is intense pressure on him to testify, this person said.

Zuckerberg said last week in a CNN interview that he’d be “happy” to testify, but didn’t commit to appear. Facebook is facing unprecedented scrutiny following reports that a data mining firm used ill-gotten data from tens of millions of its users to try to influence elections.

Small Business Dilemma: Raise Prices or Absorb Inflation?

NEW YORK (AP) – Higher energy prices and borrowing costs make it more expensive than last year for Bill Savickas to operate his wholesale produce business — especially since it’s hard to pass the increases on to his customers.

“No one wants to be the first in the industry to raise rates and then look like the bad guy,” says Savickas, the owner of Tampa, Florida-based Yankee Produce Co.

While inflation overall has been tame the past few years, economists including those on the Federal Reserve Board forecast an acceleration in price increases this year. That’s going to put more pressure on small businesses that don’t have the big revenue cushions that larger companies do to help absorb costs. Smaller businesses also don’t have the negotiating power to get better prices from vendors. And many have already been contending with rising costs, particularly for labor and energy.

Trump Hotel Business Fails To Undo Panama Coup

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s family hotel business has lost a bid to regain control of the luxury hotel in Panama that ousted his brand, according to a new emergency arbitration ruling.

The arbitrator ruled Tuesday that Mr. Trump’s company should not have been evicted while a broader arbitration dispute was ongoing between the hotel owners and Trump. But with Trump outmaneuvered in Panama and the hotel in the owners’ hands, the arbitrator declined to reinstate the Trump team. He also barred all parties from starting new legal fights over the matter.