Business Briefs – March 7, 2019

China’s Huawei Sues to Challenge U.S. Security Law

SHENZHEN, China (AP) – Chinese tech giant Huawei is challenging a U.S. law that limits its sales of telecom equipment in the U.S. on security grounds as the company steps up efforts to preserve its access to global markets for next-generation communications.

Huawei Technologies Ltd.’s lawsuit, announced Thursday, asks a U.S. court to reject as unconstitutional a military-spending provision that bars the U.S. government and its contractors from using Huawei equipment.

It comes as the biggest global maker of network equipment fights a U.S. campaign to persuade allies to shun Huawei. That threatens to block access to major markets as phone carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars in next-generation cellular networks, known as 5G.

Farmer Patience on Tariffs Comes With Caution Flag for Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) – Iowa hog farmer Howard Hill is feeling the pinch from President Donald Trump’s get-tough trade policies — his pigs are selling for less than it costs to raise them. It’s a hit that Hill is willing to take for now, but his understanding also comes with a caution flag for the president.

“We have patience, but we don’t have unlimited patience,” says Hill, who raises about 7,000 hogs a year near the central Iowa town of Cambridge.

The president’s willingness to pick trade fights with multiple trading partners at once has set off volleys of retaliatory tariffs, driving down the price of pork, corn and soybeans in political bellwether Iowa and elsewhere, and contributing to a 12 percent drop in net farm income nationally last year.

Kroger Shares Plummet on Weak Q4 Sales, Profits

CINCINNATI (AP) – Kroger’s costly modernization plan may eventually help it compete with retailers like Walmart. But in the meantime, it’s a big drag on profits.

The supermarket chain’s shares fell sharply Thursday after it reported weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings and disappointing guidance for 2019.

At issue is its three-year Restock Kroger initiative, which aims to increase digital sales, equip stores with pickup and delivery, improve store layouts and invest in popular brands. Last year was the first full year of the initiative, and Kroger says it is already seeing some upsides.

Consumer Borrowing Up in January With Credit Card Rebound

WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumer borrowing rose at a slightly faster pace in January as borrowing on credit cards rebounded after a slowdown in December.

Borrowing increased by $17.05 billion in January after a $15.36 billion December gain, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. The increase reflected acceleration in borrowing in the category that includes credit cards, up $2.57 billion, after a modest $939 million December gain. Borrowing for auto loans and student loans remained strong, rising by $14.47 billion in January after a $14.42 billion December increase.

U.S. Mortgage Rates Increased This Week; 30-Year at 4.41 Pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose modestly this week, but they remain slightly lower than they were a year ago.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.41 percent from at 4.35 percent during the prior week. The average was 4.46 percent a year ago, but rates climbed for much of 2018 and peaked at nearly 5 percent in early November.

The average rate this week for 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 3.83 percent from 3.77 percent during the prior week

Most Expensive New Car Ever: Bugatti Sells for $19 Million

GENEVA (AP) – The most expensive new car ever sold is a one-off Bugatti luxury sports car that has gone for 16.7 million euros ($18.9 million).

“La Voiture Noire” — French for “The Black Car” — is a low-slung sports car with a huge 16-cylinder engine and Bugatti’s trademark front grille.

U.S. Productivity Up Modest 1.9 Percent In 4th Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. productivity grew at a rate of 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, a slight improvement over the third quarter. Labor costs rose 2 percent, the strongest gain since the beginning of 2018.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the result from the October-December period was slightly better than a 1.8 percent rise in the third quarter.