Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 15, 2018

Trump approves tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese goods, AT&T completes its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, and more


Trump approves stiff tariffs on China imports

President Trump has approved a 25 percent tariff on roughly $50 billion of Chinese products. The administration has said the levies, the latest in a series of aggressive trade moves by Trump, are a response to unfair trade practices by China, including requiring U.S. companies to share technology secrets with Chinese partners to get access to Chinese markets. Trump also has said he wants to reduce America's $375 billion annual trade deficit with China, which he blames for the loss of U.S. factories and jobs. Most economists say those losses are largely due to increased automation. The tariffs threaten to spark retaliation from China, and complicate Trump's effort to get Beijing to maintain pressure on North Korea to denuclearize.


AT&T completes $85 billion Time Warner deal

AT&T on Thursday completed its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The news came two days after a federal judge dismissed a Justice Department claim that the deal violated antitrust laws. The merger combines the content of Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner with the mobile-first distribution capabilities of AT&T. "We're going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors, and advertisers," Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, said in a statement. The Justice Department said it was still considering appealing the judge's ruling.


ECB holds rates steady, trims bond purchases

The European Central Bank on Thursday said that if economic data continues to come in as expected it will slow down its monthly bond purchases but continue them through the end of the year. The ECB will reduce the program from $35 billion in purchases of government and private debt per month to half that amount every month, ending the program in December unless the eurozone economy hits unforeseen trouble. As the ECB unwinds its massive efforts to stimulate the economy, it will hold interest rates steady at least through summer 2019, the bank's policy makers said in a statement.


Kentucky attorney general sues Walgreens over opioid sales

Kentucky's attorney general, Andy Beshear, on Thursday launched a lawsuit against Walgreens Boots Alliance, accusing the pharmacy chain and wholesale drug distributor of fueling the opioid epidemic. Beshear has sued five other drug manufacturers and distributors, including Johnson & Johnson, in attempts to hold the industry responsible for contributing to the crisis. The lawsuit accuses Walgreens of filling opioid orders in unusual sizes and frequencies, and says it should have known some of the drugs would illegally go to addicts. "While Walgreens' slogan was 'at the corner of happy and healthy,' they have significantly harmed the health of our families in fueling the opioid epidemic," Beshear said in a statement. Walgreens declined to comment.


Stocks lose ground as Trump's new China tariffs loom

Global stocks fell on Friday as investors braced for a flare-up in trade tensions when the Trump administration unveils a list of Chinese goods affected by President Trump's latest new tariffs. The MSCI All Country World index fell by 0.2 percent in Europe early in the day, and the Asia Pacific MSCI index was down 0.3 percent. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index hit a 20-month low. U.S. stock futures also fell ahead of the start of Friday trading. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 0.6 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq-100 fell by 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.


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