Business Briefs – July 29, 2018

U.S. Economy Grew At a Brisk 4.1 Percent Rate Last Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy accelerated last quarter at an annual rate of 4.1 percent, the government estimated, as consumers spent tax-cut money, businesses stepped up investment and exporters rushed to ship their goods ahead of retaliatory tariffs. President Donald Trump said he was thrilled with what he called an “amazing” growth rate — the strongest quarterly figure since 2014 — and said it wasn’t “a one-time shot.” But most economists said the pace of growth won’t likely last in the months ahead.

Bad Week in Social Media Gets Worse; Twitter Hammered

NEW YORK (AP) – Cracking down on hate, abuse and online trolls is also hurting Twitter’s standing with investors. The company’s stock plunged Friday after it reported a decline in its monthly users and warned that the number could fall further in the coming months. The 20.5 percent drop comes one day after Facebook lost 19 percent of its value in a single day. Twitter says it’s putting the long-term stability of its platform above user growth. That leaves investors seemingly unable to value what the biggest companies in the sector, which rely on their potential user reach, are worth.

GM Faces Fiscal, Political Minefields As It Assesses Plants

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) – Analysts say that with too many factories making slow-selling cars, General Motors can’t afford to keep them all operating without making some tough decisions. A possible scenario is for GM to close its sprawling Lordstown plant in Ohio because the compact car it makes also is built in Mexico. But moving the Chevrolet Cruze south of the border brings the risk of provoking a backlash and tweet storm from President Donald Trump.

China Says Four American Airlines Missed Taiwan Deadline

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese regulators appear to have rejected a possible attempt by United States airlines at a compromise over Beijing’s demand to call self-ruled Taiwan a part of China, an order Washington opposed. China’s airline regulator said United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines missed a deadline to complete required changes. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and is using China’s growing economic clout to isolate the island’s democratically elected government.

Nod for Disney’s $71.3B Acquisition Of Fox Entertainment

NEW YORK (AP) – Disney’s $71.3-billion acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox’s entertainment division is one step closer after shareholders approved the deal Friday.

The tie-up creates an entertainment behemoth in the streaming era. The shareholder vote caps a saga that began in December 2017, when Disney made its first offer for part of Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate. It kicked off a bidding war with Comcast, which dropped out last week to focus on an attempted buyout of the European company Sky.

The Fox deal will help Disney compete with technology players like Amazon and Netflix. The agreement is not expected to close for several months and still requires regulatory approvals.

Death of Fiat Chrysler Chief Focuses Spotlight on CEO Health

MILAN (AP) – Fiat Chrysler’s late founding CEO Sergio Marchionne was a notorious workaholic who regularly slept on a corporate jet while landing in the headlines for his shrewd deal-making. Despite his very public profile, he kept a secret even from his board: he’d been seriously ill for more than a year.

Following his sudden death last week at 66, the revelation that Marchionne had kept his illness from his company and closest executives for so long has rekindled a debate over what information top executives should share about their personal life with their companies and shareholders.

Most experts believe CEOs have a right to privacy, especially where their health is concerned. But some say that coming forward would help break taboos on workplace illness for other executives and workers.

Tens of Thousands of Russians Protest Retirement Age Hikes

MOSCOW (AP) – Tens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied throughout Russia to protest plans to substantially hike the age at which Russian men and women can receive their state retirement pensions.

A crowd estimated at more than 10,000 attended a protest in Moscow that was called by the Communist Party. A similarly large crowd was in Yekaterinburg to protest and demonstrations also were reported Saturday in large cities including Rostov-on-Don and Volgograd. No arrests were immediately reported.

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, has given its first-reading approval to a measure that would gradually raise the pension ages from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women.