Business Briefs – November 3, 2019

Saudi Arabia Formally Starts IPO Of Oil Firm Saudi Aramco

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Saudi Arabia formally began an initial public offering Sunday of a sliver of oil giant Saudi Aramco after years of delay, hoping international and local investors will pay billions of dollars for a stake in the kingdom’s crown jewels.

An approval by Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority served as the starting gun for an IPO promised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since 2016. But unlike traditional IPOs, Saudi Aramco offered no hoped-for price range for its shares nor any idea how much of the firm would be offered to investors on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange.

China’s Economy Struggles As Consumers Tighten Belts

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese leaders are counting on consumers to power the economy, replacing trade and investment as Beijing fights a tariff war with Washington. But shoppers worried about possible job losses are tightening their belts. That hurts sales of cars, real estate and other big-ticket items and is a bigger threat to economic growth than U.S. tariff hikes. Communist leaders are trying to shore up growth without stimulus spending that might drive up already high debt levels.

Google Steps Into Fitness, Buys Fitbit for $2.1 Billion

WASHINGTON (AP) – Google is jumping with both feet into the fitness-tracker business, buying Fitbit for about $2.1 billion. The deal could put Google in direct competition with Apple and Samsung in the highly competitive market for smartwatches and other wearable electronics.

Brexit Party Wants to Team Up With Tories; Johnson Says No

LONDON (AP) – British euroskeptic Nigel Farage is trying to ramp up the pressure on Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On Friday, Farage warned that his Brexit Party will run against the Conservatives across the country in Britain’s Dec. 12 election unless Johnson abandons his divorce deal with the European Union. Johnson, however, says the Conservatives are in it to win and anyone voting for another party will endanger his ability to deliver Brexit.

Trade Body: China Can Hit U.S. With Sanctions Worth $3.6B

GENEVA (AP) – The World Trade Organization says China can impose sanctions on up to $3.6 billion worth of U.S. goods over the U.S. government’s failure to abide by the trade body’s anti-dumping rules with regard to Chinese products. The award, the first for China at the WTO, is the latest development in a wide-ranging trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Pentagon Awaits Possible Amazon Challenge Over Cloud Deal

WASHINGTON (AP) – Amazon must decide soon if it will protest the Pentagon’s awarding of a $10 billion cloud computing contract to rival Microsoft. One possible grievance could be the unusual attention given the project by President Trump. Amazon was long thought to be the front-runner in the competition for the huge military contract. Trump waded into the bidding process over the summer when he asked the Defense Department to take a closer look.

Exxon Mobil Profit Falls 49% as Oil And Gas Prices Decline

NEW YORK (AP) – Exxon Mobil’s profits fell dramatically in the third quarter as the company was hurt by lower prices for crude oil and natural gas. The Texas oil giant reported $3.17 billion in profits in the third quarter, down 49% from the same time last year. Total revenue was $65.05 billion, down 15% from the same time last year.

U.S. Manufacturing Contracts For Third Straight Month

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. manufacturing output dropped for the third straight month in October as trade tensions and a slowing global economy took a toll on American factories. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index blipped up to 48.3 last month from 47.8.

U.S. Economy Defies Threats With A Solid Job Gain for October

WASHINGTON (AP) – A solid October jobs report spotlighted the surprising durability of the U.S. economy in the face of persistent trade conflicts and a global slowdown. The economy managed to add 128,000 jobs last month even though tens of thousands of workers were temporarily counted as unemployed because of the now-settled strike against General Motors. What’s more, the government revised up its combined estimate of job growth for August and September by a robust 95,000.