Business briefs – January 2, 2019

Slowing Economies Could Prod U.S. and China to Reach Deal

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration and China are facing growing pressure to blink in their six-month stare-down over trade because of jittery markets and portents of economic weakness. The import taxes the two sides have imposed on hundreds of billions of each other’s goods — and the threat of more to come — have heightened anxiety on each side of the Pacific. The longer their trade war lasts, the longer companies and consumers will feel the pain of higher-priced imports and exports.

Expect 2019 to Be Quiet in Congress — for Small Business

NEW YORK (AP) – Small business issues often win bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, but given the divisions in the incoming 116th Congress, advocates for companies have low expectations. A newly Democratic House, a Senate that remains in Republican hands and ongoing investigations of the Trump White House and campaign are expected to be obstacles to much small business-related work getting done. Some advocates say business owners will see more activity on their behalf in their state governments.

Plunge in Oil Prices Threatens Iraq’s Postwar Recovery

BAGHDAD (AP) – The latest plunge in oil prices has dealt a heavy blow to Iraq’s stagnating economy, threatening the new government’s ability to rebuild after the devastating war with the Islamic State group and provide basic services to areas roiled by recent protests. Brent crude oil briefly rose above $85 a barrel in October but has since plummeted to less than $55 a barrel — a nightmare for a country like Iraq that derives 95 percent of its revenue from oil exports.

Dominion Energy Completes Buyout of South Carolina Utility

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Dominion Energy announced the completion of its merger on Wednesday with a South Carolina utility drowning in debt after the failure of a nuclear construction project.

In a news release, the Virginia-based company said that it had finalized the deal to pay $6.8 billion for SCANA Corp.’s stock and also assumed SCANA’s consolidated net debts of $6.6 billion.

Dominion was the only buyer that expressed interest in SCANA, the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas, following the company’s abandonment of a nuclear reactor construction project at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Along with state-owned utility Santee Cooper, a minority owner in the project, SCANA said in the summer of 2017 that it was shuttering the effort following the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

The implosion spawned multiple lawsuits, some by ratepayers claiming company executives knew the project was doomed and misled consumers as well as regulators as they petitioned for a series of rate hikes.