Posts belonging to Category USA



EU fines Google a record $5 billion

Google’s practices restrict competition

European regulators came down hard on another U.S. tech giant Wednesday, fining Google a record $5 billion for forcing cellphone makers that use the company’s Android operating system to install Google search and browser apps.  The European Union said Google’s practices restrict competition and reduce choices for consumers.

While Google can easily afford the fine, the ruling could undermine the company’s business model, which relies on giving away its operating system in return for opportunities to sell ads and other products. Google immediately said it will appeal, arguing that its free operating system has led to lower-price phones and created competition with its chief rival, Apple.

Android has “created more choice for everyone, not less,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted .

Google has 90 days to put remedies in place regardless of its appeal — which could involve unbundling key apps and allowing Android handset manufacturers to sell devices using altered versions of Android.

Japan/EU trade agreement, ignoring Trump

The deal eliminates nearly all tariffs

The European Union and Japan are signing a widespread trade deal that will eliminate nearly all tariffs, seemingly defying the worries about trade tensions set off by President Donald Trump’s policies. The signing in Tokyo on Tuesday for the deal, largely reached late last year, is ceremonial. It was delayed from earlier this month because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled going to Brussels over a disaster in southwestern Japan, caused by extremely heavy rainfall. More than 200 people died from flooding and landslides.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who arrived Monday, will also attend a gala dinner at the prime minister’s official residence.

Strong U.S. retail sales

Tightening labor market

U.S. retail sales rose solidly in June as households boosted purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods, cementing expectations for robust economic growth in the second quarter. Signs of a strengthening economy, together with a tightening labor market and firming inflation, likely will keep the Federal Reserve on track to continue raising interest rates this year.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell offered an upbeat assessment of the economy last Friday, telling lawmakers that “over the first half of this year, overall economic activity appears to have expanded at a solid pace.” The U.S. central bank raised interest rates in June for the second time this year and has forecast two more rate hikes by the end of 2018.

Trump Says May’s Brexit Plan Likely to Kill Off U.S. Trade Deal

U.S. president backs Boris Johnson as future prime minister

President Donald Trump dealt a double blow to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, saying her plans for a soft Brexit would likely end hopes of a trade deal with the U.S. and that Boris Johnson, who quit her cabinet this week, would be a “great” leader.  “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said in an interview in the Sun newspaper to be published Friday.

His comments in the Sun, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, a political ally of the president, appeared after May had hosted Trump at a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

US has started ‘the biggest trade war’ in history

Trump readies new tariffs on China

The Trump administration is preparing another round of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion, ramping up the US-China trade war. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday released a list of thousands of additional goods that could face 10% tariffs after a public comment period. It includes fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, rain jackets and baseball gloves.

The move comes after the United States imposed 25% tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion last Friday. Beijing immediately responded with its own tariffs on US goods worth $34 billion.

Trump Is Fracturing OPEC

Trump tweets

Trump’s tweet over the weekend that Saudi Arabia agreed to add 2 million barrels per day (mb/d) of supply confused the oil markets, pushing prices down a bit on Monday. Most analysts dismissed the statement, concluding that Trump was confused when the Saudis told him they have 2 mb/d of spare capacity, and not that they had planned to bring that capacity online.

A few days on from that episode, however, it actually doesn’t look that black and white.

Indeed, Trump’s tweet suggests that he very much believes that 2 mb/d of Saudi supply is coming online, and despite the attempt by the Saudis to clarify, by stating that they have surplus capacity waiting to be used in the event of a pinch, the statement was interpreted in different ways by the oil market.

https://www.oilprice.com/

Morgan Stanley hikes oil price forecast to $85

Trump targets Iranian barrels

Oil prices will rise more than previously expected in the second half of 2018, as the Trump administration aims to wipe out Iranian crude exports by November, Morgan Stanley forecasts.

The tougher-than-anticipated U.S. policy means Iran’s production could fall by 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) at a time of high oil demand. The bank also sees output declining more than it previously forecast in Libya and Angola, leaving the oil market undersupplied by about 600,000 bpd in the second half.

As a result, Morgan Stanley said it now believes international benchmark Brent crude will average $85 a barrel over the next six months. That’s $7.50 higher than its previous estimate.

https://www.cnbc.com/

EU warns Trump’s car tariffs threaten $300 billion of US exports

20% of US exports at risk

Nearly $300 billion of US exports could be hit by retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration decides to penalize automobile imports from around the world, the European Union says.

The Commission said global retaliation against US tariffs on auto imports would have a much bigger impact on the American economy than the backlash provoked by the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs this year. It estimated that $294 billion, or around 19% of total US exports last year, could be affected.

President Donald Trump has threatened to place a 20% tariff on all European cars coming to the United States if the European Union doesn’t remove its own trade barriers. In May, the US government launched an investigationinto imports of automobiles, including SUVs, light trucks and auto parts.

The type of investigation, known as Section 232, is meant to determine whether the imports are hurting US national security. It’s the same approach the Trump administration used before it slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this year.

https://www.cnn.com/

Does Trump plan to quit the World Trade Organization?

Better WTO Treatment

President Donald Trump said he doesn’t plan to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO), but wants the U.S. needs to be treated more fairly by the global body.The U.S. won’t exit the Geneva-based organization “at this point,” Trump said Friday. His top White House trade adviser hedged on the question on Saturday, saying any decision was up to the president, and pushed back at critics of U.S. trade moves from companies including auto-maker General Motors Co.

Axios news agency reported earlier in the day that Trump had repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to exit the WTO, citing people familiar with Trump’s thinking. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index and U.S. futures wobbled on the story before recovering. Earlier Friday, White House officials sought to ease concerns over the report, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling it an “exaggeration.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Amazon Makes $1 Billion Splash in Health Care, Buying PillPack

Formidable challenge to pharmacy chains 

Amazon.com Inc. is buying its way into the heart of the U.S. health-care system, instantly shaking up a prescription-drug industry already in the midst of a broader transformation. Insurance companies and drug-benefit managers have struck a series of deals in recent months designed in part to thwart a potential big splash in the health world from Amazon. But the online retail giant’s decision to buy online pharmacy PillPack rapidly accelerates the threat posed to entrenched retailers, suppliers and middlemen.

Most immediately, the move represents a formidable challenge to pharmacy chains including Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health Corp., the two largest drugstore chains in the U.S. Walgreens shares sank 8.5 percent at 10:49 a.m. in New York, while CVS shares shed 8.9 percent.

https://www.bloomberg.com/