Business Briefs – October 14, 2018

Mnuchin Says Trump Respects The Independence of the Fed

WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says President Donald Trump respects the independence of the Federal Reserve and his recent comments were simply a reflection of the fact that he favors low interest rates. In a CNBC interview, Mnuchin says that Trump respects the Fed and understands that they are doing their job.

China Trade Surplus With U.S. Widens to Record $34.1B

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese exports to the United States have at least temporarily defied forecasts that they would weaken after being hit by punitive tariffs in a fight over American complaints about Beijing’s technology policy. China’s trade surplus with the U.S. widened to a record $34.1 billion in September as exports to the American market rose by 13 percent over a year earlier. Customs data show that exports to the U.S. rose to $46.7 billion, down from August’s 13.4 percent growth.

Prospect of Trump-Xi Talks Raises Hope for Thaw in Trade War

BEIJING (AP) – With China and the United States opening the door to a meeting next month between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, hopes are rising for a potential easing of tensions in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Worries about the increased tariffs the two sides have imposed on each other’s goods have contributed to this week’s dizzying volatility in financial markets.

Retailers Up Their Game After Toys R Us Closures

NEW YORK (AP) – When Toys R Us closed its doors, customers mourned the loss. But retailers saw an opportunity. Rather than cede that ground to online behemoth Amazon, companies like Target, Walmart and Party City ramped up their offerings. And now, ahead of the pivotal end-of-the-year shopping season, they are going even further by trying to replicate the Toys R Us experience, creating play areas for kids, offering demos of new toys and staging events like scavenger hunts in the stores.

Global Business Leaders Suspend Ties With Saudi Arabia

LONDON (AP) – British billionaire Richard Branson has frozen business links with Saudi Arabia amid reports that journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Branson says that if the reports are true, it would “clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government.”

New Technology, Housekeeping Among Concerns in Hotel Strikes

BOSTON (AP) – New technology threatening to make some hotel jobs obsolete is among the concerns prompting thousands of Marriott workers to walk off their jobs across the U.S. in recent weeks. Unionized workers are also seeking higher wages, changes to the work demands for housekeepers and job protections for restaurant and bar staff as some hotels shutter those facilities. Some 7,700 hotel workers are on strike in Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, San Jose, Detroit and Honolulu.