Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 10, 2018

Xi Jinping promises to open China's markets, Zuckerberg to admit 'big mistake' in testimony to Congress, and more

1

Xi Jinping vows to open China's markets

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday promised to open his country's economy more to foreign companies and "significantly" lower auto tariffs. He also said Beijing would enforce intellectual property rights of foreign corporations, without directly mentioning trade tensions with the U.S. over those rights and China's massive trade surplus with America. "China does not seek trade surplus," Xi said at the annual Boao Forum for Asia. "We have a genuine desire to increase imports." U.S. stock futures surged early Tuesday after Xi's remarks, which were interpreted as a possible olive branch to ease trade tensions that have dragged down stocks. China, however, also filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over Trump's new steel and aluminum tariffs.

2

Zuckerberg to admit 'big mistake' in testimony to Congress on Facebook privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with senators privately on Monday, assuring them that his social-networking company will do a better job of protecting users' privacy. The meetings provided a preview of two days of questioning Zuckerberg will face in congressional hearings, starting Tuesday. Zuckerberg already has apologized to Facebook users after revelations that data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Trump's campaign, accessed private information from 87 million Facebook users in its effort to influence elections. "We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake," Zuckerberg says in prepared remarks. "It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."

3

Report: DOJ signs off on Bayer acquisition of Monsanto

Shares of German drugs and pesticide giant Bayer AG and crop-chemicals maker Monsanto surged on Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice had decided to allow Bayer's bid to acquire Monsanto in a deal valued at $66 billion. The government's antitrust approval reportedly came after the companies agreed to sell off additional assets, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The DOJ's decision removed the last major obstacle to the deal, the biggest ever in the seeds and crop-chemicals industry. The breakthrough came after Justice officials expressed opposition last month due to concerns the acquisition could hurt competition. The proposed takeover, which received European regulatory clearance three weeks ago, would extend a wave of consolidation in the industry.

4

Trump acknowledges farms could suffer in trade war

President Trump acknowledged Monday that U.S. farmers could suffer from his escalating trade battle with China, which has threatened tariffs on pork and soy beans, among other items. China announced the moves in response to Trump's levies on steel and aluminum, and his proposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of other Chinese imports. "If during the course of the negotiation they want to hit the farmers because they think that hits me, I wouldn't say that's nice, but I tell you our farmers are great patriots," Trump said in a meeting with his Cabinet. "They understand that they're doing this for the country. We'll make it up to them."

5

CBO: Federal deficit to rise over $1 trillion

The federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported Monday. The deficit is growing at a faster rate than previously estimated, the CBO added, spurred on by recent legislative decisions including the Republican tax bill passed in December and last month's approval of increased military spending, which together will add $1.6 trillion to the deficit in the next decade. Federal debt will reach $804 billion by the end of the fiscal year in 2018, estimates showed. The last CBO report, published in June, projected that deficits wouldn't top $1 trillion until 2022, but increased federal spending and cuts to government revenue streams have bumped the estimate up two years.

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