Trade: Trump delays steel, aluminum tariffs
President Trump this week delayed for another 30 days a decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, said Jim Brunsden in the Financial Times. The “11th-hour decision,” made just hours before the tariffs were due to take effect on Tuesday, “failed to defuse” trade tensions with these U.S. allies, which have so far refused to bow to U.S. demands for new concessions in exchange for permanent exemption from the threatened tariffs: 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
Tech: Apple announces $100 billion stock buyback
Apple this week announced solid iPhone sales and promised $100 billion in additional stock buybacks, said Stephen Nellis in Reuters.com, “reassuring investors that its decade-old smartphone invention had life in it yet.” The company said that sales of the $1,000 iPhone X drove a revenue of $61.1 billion—a record for the second quarter. Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones overall, up from 50.7 million in the same period last year, and reported a 25 percent increase in profit, to $13.8 billion. Thanks to those results and the corporate tax cut, it will buy back an additional $100 billion in stock, but announced no timetable for the purchases.
GDP: U.S. economic growth cools in 1st quarter
The U.S. economy slowed to an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the first quarter, despite large tax cuts taking effect, said Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times, “raising new questions about whether the U.S. can reach the growth levels President Trump has promised.” The “solid” showing for the period from January through March was “higher than analysts had expected,” but still down from the 2.9 percent growth pace in the fourth quarter of last year. “Consumer spending dropped to its lowest level in nearly five years after an unusually strong end of 2017.”
Companies: Gibson files for bankruptcy
“Storied guitar maker” Gibson filed for bankruptcy protection this week, said Becky Yerak in The Wall Street Journal. The Nashville company, “whose customers have included B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Jimmy Page,” ceded control to bondholders led by private-equity giant KKR as part of the filing. Founded in 1894, Gibson sells more than a fifth of all electric guitars purchased globally. But it has been hobbled by debt in recent years, thanks to a “series of soured acquisitions,” including its 2014 purchase of Philips’ consumer-electronics business, which sells headphones and speakers.