The daily business briefing: September 6, 2018

Harold Maass
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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Global shares struggle as Trump's latest China tariffs loom

Global stocks fell for a fifth straight day on Thursday as trade tensions continued to worry investors. A public-comment period is ending Thursday for President Trump's proposal to impose tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese goods, which would mark a major escalation of a trade war between the world's two biggest economies. A spokesman for China's commerce ministry said Beijing "will be forced to roll out necessary retaliatory measures" if the U.S. goes through with imposing the levies. The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks stocks in 47 countries, fell by 0.2 percent. [Reuters]


Facebook, Twitter shares fall as Congress, White House examine social media

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended their companies in congressional hearings on Wednesday against complaints about their response to foreign efforts to use social media to influence U.S. elections. Dorsey said in prepared remarks that a few "bad-faith actors were able to game Twitter to have an outsized impact." Sandberg said Facebook should have responded faster to Russian efforts to spread disinformation and sway voters. Facebook shares dropped by 1.6 percent while those of Twitter plunged 5.2 percent. Google-parent Alphabet declined an invitation to testify, but its shares also fell. The Justice Department on Wednesday said it would discuss with state attorneys general this month whether social media platforms were stifling conservative voices, as President Trump has claimed. [Reuters, The New York Times]


U.S. trade deficit grows despite Trump tariffs

The U.S. trade deficit grew in July for the second month in a row, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The import-export gaps with China and the European Union reached record levels despite President Trump's effort to use tariffs and renegotiated trade agreements to pressure trading partners into giving the U.S. more favorable terms. The Commerce Department said the overall deficit in the goods and services America sells and buys from other countries rose to $50.1 billion in July from $45.7 billion in June, reaching its highest level since February. The trade deficit has risen by 7 percent since the first half of 2017. One reason is that the U.S. economy has gained strength, helping Americans buy more imports. [The Associated Press]


Fashion brand Burberry says it will stop using fur

British luxury fashion brand Burberry announced Thursday that it would stop using real fur in its products. The company said it would phase out fur in existing clothing and accessories, and include no real fur in the garments in its Sept. 17 London Fashion Week show. In recent years, Burberry has made limited use of fur from rabbit, fox, mink, and Asiatic raccoon in its clothing. The company also said it would stop burning unsold products. It revealed the practice in a July earnings report, sparking an angry reaction from environmental activists. The company had defended the policy by saying it was necessary to prevent unwanted clothes and accessories from being stolen or sold cheaply. [The Associated Press, BBC News]


Nike to debut Kaepernick ad in NFL opener

Nike plans to debut the first ad in its new "Just Do It" campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the National Football League opener between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles on NBC on Thursday night. Kaepernick led player protests against police mistreatment of African Americans by kneeling during the national anthem, and his selection for the iconic ad campaign has drawn criticism and boycott threats from Kaepernick detractors. President Trump, a frequent critic of the NFL protests, had kept mostly quiet on Nike's decision but stepped up his response on Wednesday, tweeting: "Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts... As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!" Nike shares lost 3.2 percent on Tuesday, but gained 0.4 percent on Wednesday. [ESPN, MarketWatch]