Business Briefs – May 15, 2019

China Voices Strength, Pushes Nationalism Around Trade War

BEIJING (AP) – China’s ruling Communist Party is taking a newly aggressive approach to controlling the narrative in its trade dispute with the U.S. The harder line comes after days of muted official responses to President Donald Trump’s decision to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Escalating the antagonism, China retaliated Monday with higher tariffs on $60 billion worth of American goods, raising duties of 5% to 25%.

World Leaders, Tech Execs Pledge To Curb Online Violence

PARIS (AP) – Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech companies have joined a dozen countries in a global pledge to step up efforts to keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks. World leaders led by French President Emmanuel Macron and tech executives have gathered in Paris to compile a set of guidelines dubbed the “Christchurch Call,” named after the New Zealand city where 51 people were killed in a March attack on mosques.

Officials: PG&E Equipment Sparked Deadly California Wildfire

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California fire authorities say Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power lines sparked the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history. Cal Fire said Wednesday the lines in the Pulga area ignited the Nov. 8 fire that killed 85 people in Paradise. The investigation also identified a second nearby ignition site involving vegetation and electrical distribution lines, also owned and operated by the San Francisco-based utility.

Retail Sales in 2019 Are a Wild Ride, Slip 0.2% in April

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. retail sales slipped last month, as Americans cut back their spending on clothes, appliances, and building materials. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales dropped 0.2% in April. Retail sales have been on a seesaw pattern, rising at a healthy pace in January, then falling in February, followed by the big jump in March and now a drop in April.