Business Briefs – December 13, 2018

Apple to Build New Austin Hub, Expand in Other Tech Hotbeds

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Apple plans to build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, that will create at least 5,000 jobs ranging from engineers to call-center agents while adding more luster to a Southwestern city that has already become a bustling tech hub.

The decision, announced Thursday, comes 11 months after Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed plans to open a major office outside California on the heels of a massive tax cut on overseas profits, which prompted the company to bring about $250 billion back to the U.S.

The company said it will also open offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, each employing at least 1,000 workers over the next three years. Apple also pledged to add hundreds of jobs each in New York; Pittsburgh; Boston; Boulder, Colorado; and Portland, Oregon.

Apple’s scattershot expansion reflects the increasing competition for engineers in Silicon Valley, which has long been the world’s high-tech capital. The bidding for programmers is driving salaries higher, which in turn is catapulting the average prices of homes in many parts of the San Francisco Bay Area above $1 million. Many high-tech workers are thus choosing to live elsewhere, causing major tech employers such as Apple, Amazon and Google to look in new places for the employees they need to pursue their future ambitions.

Detention of Canadians Raises Stakes in China-U.S.-Canada Row

BEIJING (AP) – China has confirmed the detentions of two Canadian men, raising the stakes in a three-way international dispute with the United States. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday that entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of “endangering national security.”

With OK From Congress, U.S. Hemp Market Set to Boom

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Hemp is about to become legal nationwide. A provision of the farm bill that received final approval in Congress on Wednesday removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances and treats it like a regular crop. The change means an industry already seeing explosive growth is likely to grow more. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law next week.

Feds: U.S. Fishermen Had Good Year

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – The federal government says U.S. commercial fishing generated more than $144 billion in sales in 2016, a total about in line with trends of recent years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual Fisheries Economics of the United States report on Thursday. The report states that the $144.3 billion in sales from commercial fishing in 2016 was up about $100 million from the previous year.

Eurozone Stimulus Program to End As Growth Worries Resurface

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The European Central Bank says it will end the stimulus program that for almost four years has supported the eurozone economy — despite new risks including global trade wars and Brexit. Thursday’s decision to halt the program at year’s end calls time on a 2.6-trillion euro ($3 trillion) program that bank President Mario Draghi credits with putting more than 9 million people in jobs.

U.K.’s May, Embattled at Home, Seeks EU Lifeline on Brexit

BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union leaders have offered Theresa May sympathy but no promises, as the British prime minister seeks a lifeline that could help her sell her Brexit divorce deal to a hostile U.K. Parliament. May acknowledged that a breakthrough was unlikely at a two-day EU summit in Brussels but sought reassurances from the bloc that she can use to win over opponents at home. May won a challenge to her leadership but had to promise to step down as Conservative leader before the U.K.’s next vote in 2022.

U.S. Budget Deficit Hits Record $204.9 Billion for November

WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal budget deficit surged to a record for the month of November of $204.9 billion, but a big part of the increase reflected a calendar quirk. The Treasury Department says that the deficit for November was $66.4 billion higher than the imbalance in November 2017. But $44 billion of that figure reflected the fact that December benefits in many government entitlement programs were paid in November this year because Dec. 1 fell on a Saturday.