The daily business briefing: August 30, 2023

Raimondo tells Beijing it is making China 'uninvestable,' Meta stops a major China influence campaign, and more

Gina Raimondo and Li Qiang in Beijing
(Image credit: Andy Wong / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Raimondo warns Beijing it's making China 'uninvestable'

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Chinese officials Tuesday that the United States wants to maintain ties with China but concerns about Beijing's policies are scaring away international businesses, The New York Times reported. Raimondo, in the middle of a four-day trip seeking to ease tense relations between Beijing and Washington, met Tuesday with Premier Li Qiang, China's No. 2 government official, and Vice Premier He Lifeng, who leads on economic matters. Raimondo said afterward she had pressed her Chinese counterparts on American businesses' concerns about crucial matters, including intellectual property theft, capricious fines and raids on businesses. "Increasingly, I hear from businesses China is uninvestable because it has become too risky," she said.

The New York Times Reuters

2. Meta says it stopped major Chinese influence campaign

Meta said in a report released Tuesday that it had taken down thousands of fake accounts used in a Chinese influence campaign that was the largest known covert operation it had ever seen. Meta said it removed 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 Facebook pages, 15 Facebook groups and 15 Instagram accounts linked to the campaign. The Chinese effort — which also used YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest and X, formerly Twitter — dated to 2019 and was known as "Spamouflage" because it involved the frequent posting of spam messages. Meta said the campaign had little success spreading pro-China messages. "We have not found evidence of this network getting any substantial engagement among authentic communities on our services," the company said.

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The Wall Street Journal The New York Times

3. Biden administration proposes expanding overtime protections

The Biden administration is proposing a new rule that would require employers to pay overtime to white-collar workers making less than $55,000 per year, up from the current threshold of $35,568. The change would make 3.6 million more U.S. workers eligible for the extra pay by restoring an Obama-era policy push blocked in court. The new proposal would also increase the salary level annually. Labor advocates have been pushing to strengthen overtime protections to offset decades of wage stagnation. The new rule, which would affect many retail, food and manufacturing managerial employees, faces a months-long public commentary period before it can take effect.

The Associated Press

4. Stock futures edge lower after 3-day winning streak

U.S. stock futures slipped early Wednesday after three straight days of gains. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down 0.1% at 7 a.m. ET. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were flat. The Dow gained 0.9% on Tuesday. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq surged 1.5% and 1.7%, respectively, after fresh data showed signs of a cooling economy. A Conference Board consumer sentiment index reading of 106.1 came in lower than expected, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a drop in job openings in July. Wall Street is "back to a 'bad news is good news' type environment," common "when investors are worried about rates and Fed policy," said Sonu Varghese, global macro strategist at Carson Group.


5. China developer Country Garden issuing shares as it struggles to avoid default

Chinese homebuilder Country Garden unveiled plans Wednesday to issue new shares to raise $34 million in a bid to avoid defaulting on its debts. The embattled company said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it would issue 350.6 million shares at 10 cents apiece next Wednesday. The money raised will go to a subsidiary of Hong Kong–based laminates manufacturer Kingboard Holdings Ltd. to cover Country Garden's debts. Country Garden, China's biggest property developer, is struggling to avoid default after missing two interest payments this month, in the latest fallout from a real estate crisis threatening China's economy.