The daily business briefing: March 1, 2016

Harold Maass
Reuters/ Mike Blake
The daily business briefing newsletter
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Oil markets shrug off weak China manufacturing data

Crude oil futures rose by 1.6 percent on Monday despite new data from China indicating a seventh straight month of declining manufacturing in the world's second largest economy. Fears that China's slowdown could hurt the rest of the world have dragged down global stocks this year. Still, oil prices have spiked by 30 percent in the 11 trading days since crude prices hit a 13-year low of $26.05 per barrel on Feb. 11. Analysts credit a deal freezing output for increasing prices. [MarketWatch, CNN]


Judge says Apple can't be forced to unlock iPhone in drug case

A federal judge in New York on Monday rejected a request by the federal government to force Apple to unlock an iPhone in a drug case. The ruling involves a phone seized by DEA agents in a drug trafficking investigation, and is unrelated to Apple's fight against the FBI's effort to make Apple help hack into an iPhone used by one of the killers in the San Bernardino massacre. [Engadget]


Lumber Liquidators shares rattled by disappointing sales

Lumber Liquidators' stock was rattled Monday after the company reported a sharp quarterly sales drop, plummeting and then rallying late in the day and finishing up by 2 percent. Lumber Liquidators, the largest U.S. hardwood-flooring specialty retailer, last year suspended sales of Chinese-made laminates after a 60 Minutes report raised questions about possibly dangerous levels of formaldehyde in the material. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has examined the suspect flooring and found it could cause respiratory problems in people with asthma and a heightened risk of cancer. [The Washington Post]


Google accepts partial blame for self-driving car crash

Google said Monday it bears "some responsibility" for a collision involving one of its self-driving cars in February. The self-driving Lexus RX450h was traveling at about 2 miles per hour when, after navigating around sandbags, it returned to the center of its lane and hit the side of a municipal bus, causing minor damage. Google says it updated software after the incident to prevent crashes in the future. [Reuters]


Warren Buffett releases optimistic annual letter

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett expressed optimism in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, telling them the economy is in better shape than this year's presidential candidates have been saying. "Today's politicians need not shed tears for tomorrow's children," he said. Buffett also said that the company will livestream its April annual meeting this year for the first time so shareholders can see for themselves that their corporate leaders have not "drifted off into la-la land." [The Associated Press]