Business Briefs – August 1, 2018

U.S. Proposes Higher Tax on $200 Billion in Chinese Imports

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration is proposing raising planned taxes on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent, turning up the pressure on Beijing in a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. The United States has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports and is readying 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion worth to punish China for allegedly using predatory tactics to obtain U.S. technology.

Inflation, Gas Prices, Tariffs Squeeze Consumers

NEW YORK (AP) – Consumers face higher prices as companies pass along higher costs for fuel and raw materials and start feeling the effects of trade disputes. Companies warn that items ranging from canned beverages to airline tickets will likely get more expensive as they face higher costs. Some shoppers say they’ve already noticed a rise in prices.

Trump’s Short-Term Health Plans Are Cheaper but Cover Less

WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumers will have more options to buy cheaper, short-term health insurance under a new Trump administration rule, but there’s no guarantee the plans will cover pre-existing conditions or provide benefits like coverage of prescription drugs. Administration officials say the plans will last up to 12 months and may be renewable for up to 36 months. Democrats call the plans “junk insurance.”

Wells Fargo to Pay $2.1 Billion For Role in Housing Bubble

NEW YORK (AP) – Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $2.1 billion fine to settle allegations it misrepresented the types of mortgages it sold to investors during the housing bubble. The amount is relatively smaller than fines paid by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and other big banks in the years following the financial crisis to settle similar allegations.

Fidelity Slashes Fees as Funds Battle for Investors

NEW YORK (AP) – The price war among mutual fund companies is hitting a new frontier, to the benefit of investors. Fidelity will soon offer a pair of mutual funds that charge zero in expenses. The new index funds are part of a suite of changes Fidelity is making to lower expenses and make investing easier, even for people with smaller amounts to invest. It’s the latest move in an industrywide battle to attract customers, who have become increasingly conscious of how much high fees can limit returns.

U.S. Factories Grew at a Slower Pace in July

WASHINGTON& (AP) – U.S. factories grew at a slower pace in July, but American industry remains healthy despite growing concern about trade conflicts.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index slipped last month to 58.1 from 60.2 in June. Anything over 50 signals growth, and U.S. manufacturing is on a 23-month winning streak. Seventeen of 18 manufacturing industries expanded in July, led by textile mills and makers of electronic equipment, appliances and components.

New orders, production and new export orders all grew more slowly in July. Factories stepped up hiring last month.

Trump Administration Cites Safety To Freeze Mileage Standard

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration says people would drive more and be exposed to increased risk if their cars get better gas mileage, an argument intended to justify freezing Obama-era toughening of fuel standards.

Transportation experts dispute the arguments, contained in a draft of the administration’s proposals, excerpts of which were obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpts also show the administration plans to challenge California’s long-standing authority to enact its own, tougher pollution and fuel standards.

Revisions to the mileage requirements for 2021 through 2026 are still being worked on, the administration says, and changes could be made before the proposal is released.