1. Stocks rattled by Trump shutdown threat
U.S. stocks dropped on Wednesday in what analysts called a sign that investors were spooked by President Trump's threat to shut down the government if necessary to get Congress to approve building his promised wall on the Mexican border. Shares briefly recovered some of their losses after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called a shutdown unnecessary, but it wasn't enough to nudge the markets into positive territory. Congress will have just 12 working days to raise the debt ceiling after returning from summer recess on Sept. 5, and Trump's comment was seen as a potential obstacle in the talks. World stocks held steady early Thursday as investors awaited word from a meeting of central bankers later in the day in Jackson Hole.
2. Samsung unveils Galaxy Note 8
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 8 on Wednesday, the first version of its flagship smartphone since the disastrous recall of its Galaxy Note 7 last year. The successor to the discontinued phone, which had a tendency to overheat and even catch fire due to a battery problem, features a sizable infinity screen measuring 6.3 inches diagonally; two 12-megapixel color cameras; fingerprint, facial, and iris scanning capabilities; an updated S Pen stylus that can now translate full sentences; and an impressive 64 gigabytes of built-in storage. Samsung also made a point of independently verifying that the Note 8 battery meets safety standards, a key step to winning back consumer trust. The Galaxy Note 8, priced at $930, is available for presale Aug. 25, and it hits stores Sept. 15.
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3. China slams Trump administration for trade criticism
China's Commerce Ministry blasted the Trump administration on Thursday for starting an investigation into Beijing's technology policy, and said it would "resolutely defend" Chinese companies. President Trump on Aug. 14 ordered an inquiry into whether China improperly makes companies exchange technology for market access. "We are strongly dissatisfied with this unilateral and protectionist practice," a ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, said. Trump said in April he was setting aside trade disputes to focus on cooperating with China on reining in North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs, but U.S. officials started criticizing Beijing again recently.
4. American Express to pay $96 million over discrimination
American Express will pay $96 million to credit card customers in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories for discriminatory practices, such as charging higher interest rates, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Wednesday. The federal regulatory agency said more than 200,000 customers at two American Express banking subsidiaries were hurt by the practices. "They have ceased this practice and are making consumers whole," CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a statement. "In particular, because they self-reported the problem and fully cooperated with our investigation, no civil penalties are being assessed in this matter."
5. Uber reports narrowed quarterly loss
Uber Technologies reported Wednesday that its ride bookings rose and its losses narrowed in the second quarter by 9 percent. The news confirmed that the ride-hailing company has a long way to go before it becomes profitable, but suggests that the company has remained strong despite a year of scandals that cost co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick his job. Uber reported a net loss of $645 million, down from $708 million in the first quarter and $991 million the quarter before that. The company has been trying to reduce losses by reining in subsidized rates for both drivers and customers.
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