Business Briefs – January 6, 2019

Trump Expresses Optimism In Trade Talks With China

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is expressing optimism about trade negotiations with China as U.S. officials are expected in Beijing for talks aimed at easing a trade battle.

Mr. Trump said Sunday he spoke recently to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump says: “I really believe they want to make a deal. The tariffs have absolutely hurt China very badly.”

After several tit-for-tat tariff increases, the leaders agreed Dec. 1 to postpone further hikes. American officials are due in Beijing Monday.

Both governments face pressure to reach a settlement.

Chinese economic growth fell to 6.5 percent in the quarter ending in September. Third-quarter U.S. growth was 3.4 percent and unemployment is at a five-decade low. But surveys show consumer confidence is weakening due to concerns about growth.

U.S. Employers Went on a Surprising Hiring Spree in December

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. employers went on a hiring spree in December, adding a surprisingly strong 312,000 jobs and providing a dose of reassurance for the economy after a turbulent few months on Wall Street. The job gains were reported Friday by the Labor Department. They came despite a trade war with China, a broader global slowdown and the partial government shutdown now entering its third week.

Powell Says He Would Reject Any Trump Request To Resign

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he will not resign if asked to do so by President Donald Trump. He also says the central bank intends to be flexible going forward in determining when to hike its key policy rate. Both messages cheered investors on Wall Street.

LA Sues Weather Channel, Alleging It Sold App Users’ Data

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Los Angeles prosecutors say they’re suing The Weather Channel to stop it from tracking the whereabouts of app users and selling the data to third parties. City Attorney Michael Feuer said Friday that users of the popular app are misled to think their location data will only be used for personalized forecasts and alerts. A company representative says it’s “always been transparent with use of location data” and will vigorously defend the “fully appropriate” disclosures.

With Brexit 12 Weeks Away, Uncertainty Squeezing U.K. Economy

LONDON (AP) — With Britain just 12 weeks away from leaving the European Union, one thing is becoming clear — uncertainty over what Brexit will mean is hurting the economy. A raft of economic figures released Friday show the British economy weakening at the turn of the year. House prices are down and business optimism in the key services sector is at its second-weakest level since the global financial crisis a decade ago.

Fewer Affected in Marriott Hack, But Passports a Red Flag

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) – Marriott says fewer guest records were compromised than feared in a previously announced data breach. But the largest hotel chain in the world confirmed Friday that approximately 5.25 million unencrypted passport numbers were accessed. The compromise of those numbers has raised alarms among security experts because they may have been targeted by foreign operators. The FBI is leading the investigation of the hack and investigators suspect the hackers were working on behalf of China.

Dem-Led House Moves to Join Health Care Law Case

WASHINGTON (AP) – The new Democratic-controlled House has moved toward defending President Barack Obama’s health care law against a federal court ruling that’s found the statute unconstitutional. The House has filed papers seeking to intervene in the case, which by itself is unlikely to have substantial impact on the lawsuit.

CES 2019: Tech Show Isn’t Immune From Government Shutdown

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The CES 2019 gadget show is revving up in Las Vegas, but even technology’s biggest trade event isn’t immune to the effects of the partial government shutdown.

Organizers said that several scheduled government speakers have canceled their travel plans. These include Ajit Pai, head of the Federal Communications Commission, and at least nine other federal officials.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao still plana to deliver a keynote talk Wednesday on federal initiatives to advance drone technology and self-driving vehicles.

The event opens to attendees on Tuesday.