Business Briefs – May 19, 2019

Mounting Tensions With Iran, China Leave Oil Prices in Flux

NEW YORK (AP) – A rare mix of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and China is tugging oil prices in opposite directions and creating uncertainty over where they might land. Deteriorating trade talks between the United States and China have threatened to drive down the cost of oil and gasoline. But escalating tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere could threaten oil supply, which could push the price of oil and gasoline higher.

Korea Allows Businesspeople To Visit North Factory Park

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea will allow its businesspeople to visit their factories at an industrial park in North Korea that was shut down by Seoul’s conservative government in 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test. The Unification Ministry says it plans to discuss with North Korea details for the visits to the North Korean border town of Kaesong. The announcement comes amid a slowdown in inter-Korean engagement following the collapse of a high-stakes nuclear summit between North Korea and the U.S.

China’s Ban on Scrap Imports a Boon to U.S. Recycling Plants

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The halt on China’s imports of wastepaper and plastic that has disrupted U.S. recycling programs has also spurred investment in American plants that process recyclables.

U.S. paper mills are expanding capacity to take advantage of a glut of cheap scrap. Some facilities that previously exported plastic or metal to China have retooled so they can process it themselves.

And in a twist, the investors include Chinese companies that are still interested in having access to wastepaper or flattened bottles as raw material for manufacturing.

Trade War, Heavy Rains Weigh on Deere & Co.

NEW YORK (AP) – Deere cut its expectations for the year as a trade war between the U.S. and China escalates at the same time that farmers are attempting to recover from a planting season besieged by heavy rains. Prices of soybeans targeted by Chinese tariffs last year fell to a 10-year low this week as the countries traded jabs. Deere says farmers have grown more cautious when buying equipment.

Luckin, a Starbucks Rival in China, Jolts Higher in U.S. Debut

NEW YORK (AP) – Shares of Luckin Coffee, a fast-growing rival to Starbucks in China, rose 20% in their U.S. stock market debut. The Chinese company, which opened its first store in Beijing less than two years ago, has 2,370 locations and plans to surpass the 3,700 stores Starbucks has in China by the end of the year. Luckin raised $561 million in its initial public offering by selling 33 million American depositary shares at $17 apiece. The ADS, trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol “LK,” closed at $20.38.

Pelosi to Meet Mnuchin in Hopes Of Deals on Debt, Spending

WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders have arranged to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney next week. They want to explore an agreement to increase the government’s borrowing cap, as well as legislation to stave off a severe round of cuts to agency budgets and the Pentagon. A spokesman for Pelosi says the two politically nettlesome items won’t necessarily be paired together. Both are considered a must-do by Pelosi.

Countertops and Rubber Bands: U.S. Pursues Obscure Trade Cases

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s high-profile trade offensives have grabbed headlines and rattled financial markets around the world. He’s battling China over the industries of the future, strong-arming Canada and Mexico into reshaping North American trade and threatening to tax cars from Europe and Japan.