Business Briefs – February 28, 2019

Tesla & Debuts $35,000 Model 3, Sees Loss in First Quarter

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) –& Tesla& Inc said on Thursday it would offer a $35,000 version of its Model 3 sedan with a delivery time of two to four weeks, while closing many of its retail stores worldwide, steps designed to increase demand and cut overhead costs for the electric vehicle maker.

Chief Executive Elon Musk on a conference call said the company would not turn a profit in the first quarter but would return to profitability in the second, CNBC reported. In its fourth-quarter shareholder letter,& Tesla& had said its “optimistic target” was for a “very small” net profit in the first quarter.

Shares of& Tesla& fell 3.4 percent after hours. Investors have regularly voiced concerns about whether& Tesla& would be able to maintain profit margins through cost cutting — such as recent layoffs — and efficiency as it cut prices of its newest vehicle.

Thursday was the third time this year that& Tesla& lowered the price on the Model 3, which recently started at $42,900.

Huawei Pleads Not Guilty to Trade Secrets Charges in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) – The Chinese tech giant Huawei has pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges that it stole trade secrets from T-Mobile. A company representative entered the pleas Thursday in federal court in Seattle, where a 10-count indictment was unsealed in January. The allegations feature in a major trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. The U.S. has accused China of using predatory tactics to turn Chinese companies into leaders in tech fields such as robotics and electric vehicles.

Farm Loan Delinquencies Highest In 9 Years as Prices Slump

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – The nation’s farmers are struggling to pay back their loans after years of low crop prices, with nearly one out of five loans in a government farm program now delinquent for the worst January default rate in at least nine years. The bulk of the nation’s agricultural loans typically come due around Jan. 1 for seasonal and tax planning purposes.

Klobuchar Defends Her Record On Regulating Medical Devices

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – As a senator, Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has advocated for the medical device industry, a big employer in Minnesota, her home state. A review of her record by The Associated Press and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists finds she’s advanced proposals championed by the industry that some consumer advocates claim would put patients’ safety at risk. Klobuchar says she’s pushed to improve safety while cutting red tape that slows the approval of devices.

PG&E: Company Equipment ‘Probable’ Cause of California Fire

NEW YORK (AP) – Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. is inching closer to taking responsibility for the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century. The company said Thursday it is “probable” that one of its transmission lines sparked last year’s blaze in California that killed 86 people and destroyed most of the city of Paradise. The company says it’s taking a $10.5 billion charge for claims connected to the fire in its fourth-quarter earnings.

U.S. Mortgage Rates Mostly Held Steady This Week

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. long-term mortgage rates were unchanged this week, possibly helping affordability as home borrowing costs have been steadily declining since early November. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage held at 4.35 percent for the second straight week. This represents a slight decline from an average of 4.43 percent a year ago.