The daily business briefing: August 6, 2018

Harold Maass
A Chinese newspaper featuring Trump
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Chinese state media accuses Trump of trade 'extortion'

Chinese state media on Monday targeted President Trump with a rare public scolding over his trade policies, saying he is behaving like he's starring in a "street fighter-style deceitful drama of extortion and intimidation." The ruling Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper said Trump's threat to continue raising tariffs on Chinese goods was creating friction and endangering the credibility of the U.S. "Governing a country is not like doing business," the paper said. European and Asian shares struggled on Monday as fears of an escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies weighed on investors' minds. U.S. stock futures also edged down early Monday. [Reuters, MarketWatch]


Disney's Christopher Robin can't beat Mission: Impossible

Walt Disney Co.'s Christopher Robin was unable to knock Mission: Impossible — Fallout out of the top spot at the box office over the weekend. The live-action Winnie the Pooh film, starring Ewan McGregor, brought in $25 million domestically in its debut weekend while Mission Impossible added $35 million, giving it a two-week domestic total of $124.5 million. Christopher Robin's take was the lowest for Disney since The BFG and Pete's Dragon in 2016, and it marked just the second time this year that a Disney film failed to launch at No. 1. The Lionsgate action-comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, came in at No. 3 with a $12.4 million debut. [MarketWatch]


Saudi Arabia halts new trade with Canada in clash over arrests

Saudi Arabia will halt new trade and investment with Canada after the latter called for the release of arrested civil rights activists in the oil-rich kingdom, according to a statement released Sunday from the official Saudi Press Agency. Riyadh also gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its ambassador from Canada. On Friday, Canada said it was "gravely concerned" about the arrests of activists and women's rights advocates, including Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. Badawi is the sister of jailed dissident blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife Ensaf Haidar lives in Canada and recently became a citizen there. On Friday, Canada said it was "gravely concerned" and urged Saudi Arabia to "immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists." [Reuters]


China tightens currency controls to prevent cash drain

China has tightened controls on its currency, the yuan, to discourage speculation after a decline in its value against the dollar as rising trade tensions with the U.S. stoked fears of an outflow of cash from the world's No. 2 economy. Starting Monday, currency traders must post a 20 percent deposit for contracts to buy or sell yuan on a future date. The requirement will make it more expensive to bet the yuan will drop, discouraging speculators. China has allowed the tightly controlled yuan to drop by 8 percent since February, which has helped Chinese exporters facing tariff hikes by making their products less expensive for people buying with dollars. [The Associated Press]


Nooyi stepping down as PepsiCo CEO

PepsiCo announced Monday that CEO Indra Nooyi would step aside as of Oct. 3 after 12 years leading the food and beverage giant. Nooyi, who has been with the company for 24 years, will remain as chairman until early next year. She will be replaced as CEO by President Ramon Laguarta, who has been president of PepsiCo since September. Under Nooyi, one of the few minority women CEOs in the U.S., the maker of Mountain Dew, Gatorade, and Doritos chips pushed into healthier products, including hummus and kombucha, in a bid led by Nooyi to confront shifting consumer tastes. Nooyi is leaving at a time when the soda and snack industries are still in flux. PepsiCo's stock price slipped by 0.5 percent in pre-market trading after the announcement. [CNBC, The Wall Street Journal]