Business Briefs – August 29, 2018

Canadian Foreign Minister Starts Negotiating Trade With U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is discussing how to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Before entering the USTR building, Freeland told reporters she is “encouraged by the progress the U.S. and Mexico have made, particularly on cars and labor.”

Freeland hurried to Washington a day after the Trump administration reached a preliminary deal Monday with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Why Canada’s Exclusion From U.S.-Mexico Deal Raises Obstacle

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s drive to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement has taken an unexpected turn — one that complicates his effort to replace that deal with one more favorable to American workers: Canada, America’s longtime ally and No. 2 trading partner, was left out of a proposed deal President Trump just reached with Mexico and is scrambling to keep its place in the regional free-trade bloc — and fend off the threat of U.S. taxes on its vehicles.

Mnuchin Praises Fed’s Powell As ‘Phenomenal Leader’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is calling Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell a “phenomenal leader.” His comments reflected a marked contrast to recent criticism President Donald Trump has leveled at the central bank for raising interest rates.

U.S. Home Prices Jumped 6.3 Percent From a Year Ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices climbed 6.3 percent in June from a year earlier, as affordability is becoming a greater obstacle for would-be buyers. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose at a slightly slower pace than the 6.5 percent annual gain in May from a year earlier, according to a report Tuesday. But home values are increasing at more than double the pace of average wage growth, weighing down property sales despite solid demand because of accelerating economic growth and solid hiring.

Bill Gates Directs U.S. Education Funding to Local Schools

SEATTLE (AP) — Marking another phase in his education agenda, Bill Gates is now taking a more targeted approach to help struggling U.S. schools. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now funding groups working directly with clusters of public schools in some of the most impoverished regions of the U.S. Many of those third-party groups already had relationships with the world’s largest philanthropy, and some of the grants went straight to a school district and charter school organization.