Business Briefs – January 20, 2019

China Set to Post Slowest Growth in 28 Years in 2018, More Stimulus Seen

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is expected to report on Monday that economic growth cooled to its slowest in 28 years in 2018 amid weakening domestic demand and bruising U.S. tariffs, adding pressure on Beijing to roll out more support measures to avert a sharper slowdown.

Growing signs of weakness in China — which has generated nearly a third of global growth in the past decade — are stoking worries about risks to the world economy and are weighing on profits for firms ranging from Apple to big car makers.

Chinese policymakers have pledged more support for the economy this year to reduce the risk of massive job losses, but they have ruled out a “flood” of stimulus like that which Beijing has unleashed in the past, which quickly juiced growth rates but left a mountain of debt.

Travel Industry Fears Damage From A Long Government Shutdown

ATLANTA (AP) – The scene at most of the nation’s airports has so far been marked more by concerned passengers showing up early than by missed flights. Longer lines are evident at some airports. But delays resulting from a rise in federal security screeners calling in sick have been slight. Yet concern is quickly growing that the partial shutdown of the government will continue and cause damage to the travel industry and eventually the economy.

Tiffany Year-End Sales Slip as Chinese Tourists Spend Less

NEW YORK (AP) – Tiffany & Co. says year-end shoppers and Chinese tourists spent less on its bling. The luxury jeweler, famous for its little blue boxes, says sales slipped in the year-end shopping season as Chinese tourists spent less while traveling due to the strong dollar, making it more expensive to buy Tiffany jewelry outside of its stores in China. The company also says it was hurt by stock market volatility, the uncertainty around Brexit and protests in Paris.

EU Wants to Exclude Agriculture From Trade Talks With U.S.

BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union is insisting that agriculture be kept out of the EU-U.S. trade negotiations, despite Washington’s wishes to include the vast sector. The EU Commission announced its proposals for a negotiating mandate from the 28 member states and said that the EU negotiations will be “strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products.” It also commented that any deal will be limited in scope.

Germany’s Mercedes-Benz Plans Assembly Plant in Egypt

BERLIN (AP) – German automaker Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Cars unit says it is developing plans to open an assembly plant in Egypt. Mercedes-Benz said in a statement Friday that the passenger car plant would be built by a local business partner and the project is being developed “in close collaboration” with Egypt’s government.

On The Road to Make an Affordable Car, Tesla Cuts Jobs

(AP) – Tesla is cutting 7 percent of its workforce as it tries to make a car that is affordable to more people. CEO Elon Musk said Friday that it’s extremely difficult to produce an electric car that is competitive with gas-powered vehicles. Tax incentives to buy electric cars, seen as a waste by many GOP lawmakers, are being cut.

Manufacturing Surge Pushes Industrial Production Up 0.3 Pct

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. industrial production increased 0.3 percent in December, led by the biggest surge in manufacturing in 10 months. The Federal Reserve said Friday that manufacturing output jumped 1.1 percent last month, the largest gain since February 2018. Automakers drove much of the growth with a 4.7 percent jump in production.

Oxford Suspends Research Funding From China’s Huawei

LONDON (AP) – Oxford University says it is suspending research grants and funding donations from Huawei amid growing security concerns about the Chinese telecom giant. It’s another setback for Huawei’s image in Europe, an important market for the company, which has been effectively blocked in the U.S. The university said in a statement Thursday that Oxford “will not pursue new funding opportunities” with Huawei or related companies, though two existing research projects will continue.