The daily business briefing: April 22, 2019

Harold Maass
The Huawei logo
Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

1.

Oil prices jump after report of U.S. ending Iran sanctions waivers

The Trump administration is preparing to announce an end to waivers from sanctions on Iranian oil imports, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly plans to announce Monday morning that, starting May 2, all countries — even U.S. allies — will have to stop buying Iranian crude or face U.S. sanctions. The move comes roughly a year after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. In November, the State Department gave eight countries — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, and Greece — 180-day waivers to give them time to find sources to replace Iranian oil. Crude prices jumped 3 percent following reports of the policy change. [The Washington Post, CNBC]

2.

Huawei says revenue rose 39 percent despite U.S. opposition

Huawei announced Monday its revenue rose 39 percent in the first quarter over the same period a year earlier, despite U.S. pressure on other Western nations to stop buying equipment from the Chinese tech giant. The Trump administration has said Huawei's network equipment for phone and internet companies can be used by China for spying, charges that Huawei denies. The U.S. wants its allies to avoid using Huawei gear in next-generation 5G mobile networks that promise super-fast data speeds, but Huawei said by the end of March it had sealed 40 commercial 5G contracts. The company is privately held but released its first quarterly report to show it was still growing and to ease security concerns. [The Associated Press]

3.

Tesla investigates video of parked Model S catching fire

Tesla said Monday it immediately sent a team to investigate after a video posted on Chinese social media showed a parked Tesla Model S electric car bursting into flames. "We're supporting local authorities to establish the facts," Tesla said in a statement. "From what we know now, no one was harmed." Since 2013, there have been at least 14 reports of Teslas catching fire. Most of the blazes started after crashes. Tesla has said fires are 10 times less likely in its electric vehicles than in cars with conventional gas engines. "Tesla had fire incidents before, but they didn't have a big impact on its reputation in China," said analyst Alan Kang at LMC Automotive. [CNBC]

4.

Ghosn indicted on new charge in Japan

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was indicted Monday on allegations of misappropriating money the Japanese automakers sent to a distributor in the Middle East. Tokyo prosecutors didn't identify the distributor, although Ghosn's lawyers have said the case involves Oman-based Suhail Bahwan Automobiles. Nissan reportedly looked into whether the dealer helped Ghosn acquire a yacht, and funneled money to an investment company Ghosn's son was involved in. Prosecutors said Ghosn benefited from $5 million out of $10 million Nissan sent the distributor in 2017 and 2018. Ghosn, who now has been arrested four times by Japanese authorities, says he is innocent of all of the charges. [MarketWatch]

5.

Curse of La Llorona leads the weekend box office

The Curse of La Llorona led the domestic box office, earning $26.5 million in its opening weekend. Shazam! fell to No. 2 after two weeks at the top. La Llorona was the latest of several horror movies to beat expectations. The Warner Bros. and New Line film is based on a Mexican legend about a woman who kills her children, then wanders searching for them. The 20th Century Fox inspirational film Breakthrough came in third with $11.1 million, a solid opening for a faith-based film. Overall, it was Hollywood's worst Easter weekend in 14 years, probably because studios avoided launching big-budget films ahead of the April 26 opening of Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, which is expected to shatter box office records. [Variety, The Associated Press]