Business Briefs – April 8, 2018

Workers Benefit as U.S. Businesses Struggle to Fill Jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) – More American employers are struggling to find enough workers to fill jobs, which might have contributed to slower hiring last month. And workers are benefiting in the meantime: More people who had given up looking for work are renewing their job hunts, more employees are confident enough to quit to look for other jobs and pay is gradually picking up. U.S. employers added just 103,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said Friday, the fewest in six months.

Powell Says Fed Expects to Stick With Gradual Rate Hikes

CHICAGO (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday painted a mostly sunny view of the U.S. economy and said the Fed remains committed to raising its key interest rate gradually unless events change. He said it was too soon to determine how a trade fight with China could affect the U.S. economy.

China Vows to ‘Counterattack’ U.S. as Trade Spat Worsens

WASHINGTON (AP) – China vows to ‘counterattack with great strength’ if President Donald Trump hikes tariffs on an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods in an escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. Mr. Trump’s surprise directive for the U.S. trade representative to consider more tariffs came a day after Beijing announced planned increases in duties on U.S. soybeans, aircraft and other items in response to American tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

Average Price of U.S. Gas Rises 8 Cents, to $2.74 A Gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) – The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline shot up 8 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $2.74.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday the increase was driven primarily by rising crude oil prices.

The current gas price is 30 cents above where it was a year ago.

The highest average price in the contiguous 48 states was $3.63 in the San Francisco Bay area. The lowest was $2.37 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The average price for diesel fuel rose three cents, to $3.04.

Nine West Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

NEW YORK (AP) – Nine West Holdings Inc. has become the latest retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an attempt to restructure its debt. The shoe chain says the move was made to help with the sale of its Nine West and Bandolino footwear and handbag business and so it can focus more on its profitable businesses, which include One Jeanswear Group, The Jewelry Group, the Kasper Group and Anne Klein.

U.S. Consumer Debt Rose a Slight 3.3 Percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. consumers increased their debt by just 3.3 percent in February, the weakest monthly change in nearly seven years despite an otherwise healthy economy. The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumer borrowing rose $10.6 billion in March to nearly $3.9 trillion. The gains have slowed from a 10.3 percent jump in debt levels in November. February’s increase was the smallest since August 2011, when consumer credit levels declined.

Foreign Worker Saves 7 Lives As Hawaii Fishing Boat Sinks

HONOLULU (AP) – A federal contractor who was aboard the fishing vessel Princess Hawaii when it sank off the Big Island credits a Vietnamese crewman with saving his life. Khanh Huynh was acting as the de facto captain of the doomed fishing boat. The 28-year-old fisherman is one of hundreds of foreigners who work aboard American-owned fishing vessels in Hawaii. The workers lack visas and live on the boats for the duration of their contracts — often for years at a time.