Business Briefs – November 18, 2018

Pence, Xi Trade Barbs in Speeches at Pacific Summit

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traded barbs in speeches at a summit of world leaders Saturday, outlining competing visions for global leadership as trade and other tensions between them simmer.

Pence said there would be no letup in President Donald Trump’s policy of combating China’s mercantilist trade policy and intellectual property theft that has erupted into a tit-for-tat tariff war between the two world powers this year.

The U.S. has imposed additional tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods and China has retaliated. Pence reiterated Trump administration threats to more than double the penalties.

Brexit, Italy, Trade: Risks Piling Up for Europe’s Economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Europe’s long-running economic rebound is facing a mid-life crisis as it copes with worries including a potential debt explosion in Italy, an escalating US-China trade war and a potentially disruptive British exit from the European Union. How those risks play out will decide whether the expansion — now completing its fifth year, ages gracefully for several more — or meets an early demise.

U.S. Industrial Production Ticks Up 0.1 Percent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. industry expanded for a fifth straight month in October, as manufacturing growth offset declines in mining and utility production. The Federal Reserve says that industrial production rose a modest 0.1 percent last month following a 0.2 percent advance in September. The economy has been growing at a solid rate this year. But there are concerns the strong dollar and rising trade tensions could hurt future growth.

VW Wants to Storm Car Market With Cheaper Electric Model

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Automaker Volkswagen says it will invest 44 billion euros ($50 billion) in developing autonomous and electric cars. It’s also moving to expand the appeal of battery-powered cars by selling its upcoming ID compact for about what a diesel-powered Golf costs. Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch told a news conference Friday that the company’s plans for the next five years aim to make Volkswagen “a worldwide supplier of sustainable mobility.

California Utility Shares Rise as Regulator Calms Investors

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Shares of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. soared Friday after California’s top utility regulator said his agency will help the company deal with potentially crippling liability costs from wildfires. Stock prices soared 36 percent in midday trading after plunging 60 percent and losing $15 billion in valuation in the week following the wildfire that is the nation’s deadliest in a century.

Hong Kong Economy Cools As Trade Tension Mounts

HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong’s economic growth slowed in the latest quarter and the government warned it will face headwinds from U.S.-Chinese trade tension and higher interest rates. The Chinese territory’s economy expanded by 2.9 percent over a year earlier, down from the previous quarter’s 3.5 percent. The government said the impact of U.S.-Chinese trade tension has ‘begun to surface’ and is ‘likely to become more apparent in the near term.’

Trump Says Will Name EPA’s Acting Chief to Post Permanently

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says EPA agency’s acting head, Andrew Wheeler, will become permanent at the agency. Mr. Trump made the announcement almost in passing Friday at a White House ceremony for President Medal of Freedom honorees. The nomination would require Senate confirmation. Senators approved Wheeler as the agency’s deputy administrator in a 53-45 vote last April.