Business Briefs – October 21, 2018

China’s Growth Slows as Officials Try to Reassure Investors

BEIJING (AP) – China’s economic growth has sunk to a post-global crisis low as officials launch a media blitz to reassure investors about its sagging stock market. Growth declined to 6.5 percent over a year earlier in the latest quarter from the previous quarter’s 6.7 percent. That adds to challenges for communist leaders as they fight a tariff battle with President Donald Trump over technology policy. Retail spending, factory output and investment all weakened.

New Tax Break Rules for ‘Opportunity Zone’ Investors

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration is proposing rules for investors in a new program that it says could have a big impact on economically depressed areas around the country. About 8,700 so-called “opportunity zones” have been set up in all 50 states to lure investors and developers with tax breaks. The rules from the Treasury Department on Friday lay out how long individuals or companies must hold on to their investments in the zones to avoid paying taxes on their profits from them.

Impoverished Farm Town Is Left Behind in California

HURON, Calif. (AP) – People who work in California melon and lettuce fields struggle no matter which political party is in power. Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Huron’s 7,000 residents work sporadically and are often more concerned about getting by than taking an interest in politics. Democrat T.J. Cox is trying to unseat three-term Republican U.S. Rep. David Valadao by saying he has hurt poor constituents by voting to cut Medicaid and other social programs.

What’s at Stake If Investors Begin to Shun Saudi Arabia

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The disappearance of a Saudi journalist last seen entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul has shaken business confidence in the country’s possibilities as an investment destination. It’s a blow, analysts say, to efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to convince the world that the country is a reputable place to do business. And it could affect his ability to draw the investment needed to carry out a wide-ranging transformation of the country’s oil-dependent economy.

U.S. Home Sales Fell in September To Slowest Pace in 3 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home sales fell for the sixth straight month in September, a sign that housing has become the economy’s weak spot. The National Association of Realtors says sales declined 3.4 percent last month, the biggest drop in 2 ½ years, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million.

Ex-Spy Chief Says Brexit Leaves U.K. Vulnerable to Attack

LONDON (AP) – A former head of Britain’s overseas intelligence agency says Brexit could leave Britain more vulnerable to attacks like the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury. John Sawers, who led MI6 between 2009 and 2014, says “I don’t believe Russia would have used a nerve agent on the streets of an American or German city” because the consequences would be too great.

Return to Sender: Postal Union Warns of Fallout If US Leaves

GENEVA (AP) – No international letters, no international packages: A top official with a 192-country postal union says that’s what Americans can expect if the Trump administration goes through with plans to pull of an international postal treaty over concerns about China. The deputy director-general of the Switzerland-based Universal Postal Union says it reached out quickly to try to understand U.S. concerns.