The daily business briefing: April 6, 2018
Trump doubles down in trade war with China, the economy added far fewer jobs than expected in March, and more
Trump considers tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese imports
President Trump on Thursday ordered the U.S. trade representative to look into imposing tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese imports. Trump said he made the decision in response to China's "unfair retaliation" against new import duties imposed by his administration. "Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers," Trump said. A Chinese official said Beijing would "definitely fight back." Futures for the main U.S. stock indexes dropped by about 1 percent early Friday as the trade war intensified. China on Wednesday announced it would raise tariffs to up to 25 percent on $50 billion worth of U.S. products, including soybeans, after the U.S. unveiled similar levies on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Economy adds 103,000 jobs in March, far fewer than expected
The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. employers added 103,000 jobs in March, well below the 193,000 forecast and the smallest gain since last fall. January's gains were adjusted down to 176,000 from 239,000, while the February increase was bumped up from 313,000 to 326,000. The labor market remained tight, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1 percent, the lowest level in 17 years. Hourly wages rose by 0.3 percent to $26.82. The monthly jobs report further clouded the economic picture after a flurry of economic signals, with consumer sentiment at a 14-year high but investor concern over a trade war between the U.S. and China rising. The Federal Reserve watches the jobs figures closely to determine its next moves on interest rates.
Sandberg says users would have to pay to opt out of all Facebook ads
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told NBC News the company would have to charge users if they want to opt out of data-driven advertising on the social media platform. During an interview with Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, Sandberg said Facebook does not sell or give away information on users, but "our service depends on your data." On Wednesday, Facebook revealed that up to 87 million users had their personal information improperly shared with the data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica before the 2016 presidential election. "It is definitely the case in 2016 that we were behind and we didn't understand that kind of election interference," she said. "We thought that the data had been deleted, and you're right, we should have checked."
Trade deficit rises to highest in 9 years
The U.S. trade deficit rose to $57.6 billion in February, the highest monthly gap in more than nine years, according to figures released Thursday by the Commerce Department. Imports and exports alike rose to record highs due to strong demand in the U.S. and abroad. The news came at a time of high trade tensions, with the U.S. and China hitting each other with tariffs as President Trump seeks to punish China and other countries that sell far more than they buy in trade with America. Economists, however, warn that tariffs won't reverse trade deficits. "Tariffs may sound like a good way to change the pattern of trade, but they tend to raise prices rather than modify the trade fundamentals," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Pennsylvania.
China's Didi Chuxing to challenge Uber in Mexico
Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing launched a website advertising to drivers and passengers in Mexico ahead of its first foray into a market outside Asia. The company says on its website that it will start operating in Mexico "very soon." The move will set off a potentially expensive battle in the country with U.S. rival Uber, which had 87 percent of the Mexican market last August. Uber has 7 million users in dozens of cities. Mexico is considered fertile territory for ride-hailing services, due to its congested cities, underdeveloped public transit, and rising smartphone use. Didi is recruiting drivers by promising it won't take a cut from fares until June 17.