Business Highlights: China’s exports, Apple’s new offerings

September 7, 2022 GMT

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China’s export growth sinks in August, imports shrink

BEIJING (AP) — China’s export growth weakened in August and imports shrank as high energy prices, inflation and anti-virus restrictions weighed on global and Chinese consumer demand. Customs data Wednesday showed exports rose 7% over a year earlier, just over one-third of July’s 18% expansion. Imports contracted by 0.2%. Demand for Chinese exports has softened as economic activity in Western markets slowed and the Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Asia raise interest rates to cool surging inflation. At home, repeated closures of cities to fight virus outbreaks has depressed consumer spending.

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Fed’s Brainard: Rates to rise higher, stay elevated longer

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Fed official says the Federal Reserve will need to continue lifting its short-term interest rate to a level that restricts economic growth and keep it there for an extended period. In remarks to a banking industry conference Wednesday, Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard echoed similarly tough comments about inflation delivered by Chair Jerome Powell late last month in Jackson Hole. Brainard said the Fed’s benchmark interest rate “will need to rise further” and stay at a level high enough to slow the economy “for some time to provide confidence that inflation is moving down” to the Fed’s 2% target. In July, prices were 8.5% higher than a year earlier.

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Apple maintains prices on new iPhones despite inflation

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple revealed its next line-up of iPhones will boast better cameras, faster processors, and a longer lasting battery at the same prices as last year’s model, despite the mounting pressures of inflation that has driven up the cost of other everyday items. The decision to hold the line of iPhone prices came as a mild surprise, as most analysts had predicted Apple would likely ask its devout fans to pay as much as 15% more to help offset the rising costs for many components. The four new models, with starting prices ranging from $799 to $1,099, will be in stores beginning Sept. 16.

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New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss inherits an economic storm

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s new prime minister has pledged to rebuild the economy and “ride out the storm” gathering over the country, but Liz Truss faces a daunting job. She inherits an ailing economy on the brink of a potentially long recession, with record inflation that’s forecast to worsen in coming months and millions crying out for government help to cope with soaring energy bills. Starting in October, millions of households will see their average yearly energy bill jump to about 3,500 pounds, or $4,000, which is almost triple what they paid a year ago. Truss is due to announce a major financial package Thursday to tackle soaring energy costs.

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EU wants price cap on Russian gas, energy companies to pay

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says European Union countries should set a price cap on Russian natural gas. She also said Wednesday that European oil and gas companies are making extraordinary profits as the war in Ukraine drives up energy costs and that the bloc’s executive arm will propose they make a “solidarity contribution.” They’re part of a raft of proposals that the EU’s executive branch is putting on the table for the bloc’s energy ministers to discuss Friday. Von der Leyen says Russia is “actively manipulating the gas market.” It’s partially or fully cut natural gas to 13 EU countries.

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Stocks charge higher on Wall Street, erasing weekly losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended broadly higher on Wall Street, placing the market on pace to break a 3-week losing streak. The S&P 500 rose 1.8% Wednesday, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose even more. Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. Airlines did well after United raised its revenue forecast following a busy summer travel season. Energy stocks fell along with oil prices. Investors are keeping a close eye on the Federal Reserve as it fights inflation with high interest rates. Vice Chair Lael Brainard reaffirmed the bank’s resolve in tackling inflation in remarks delivered Wednesday, two weeks before the Fed’s next policy meeting.

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Judge: Musk can use Twitter whistleblower but not delay case

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Elon Musk will be able to include new evidence from a Twitter whistleblower as he fights to get out of his $44 billion deal to buy the social media company, but Musk won’t be able to delay a high-stakes October trial over the dispute, a judge ruled Wednesday. Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, denied Musk’s request to delay the trial by four weeks. But she allowed him to add evidence related to whistleblower allegations by former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko, who is scheduled to testify to Congress next week about he company’s poor cybersecurity practices.

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UPS hiring for the holiday rush holds steady above 100,000

NEW YORK (AP) — UPS plans to hire more than 100,000 workers to help handle the holiday rush this season, about inline with the previous two years. Holiday-season volumes usually start rising in October and remain high into January. While online shopping has slowed from the height of the pandemic, it’s still well above historic norms. UPS said Wednesday that there will be job openings for full- and part-time seasonal positions, primarily package handlers, drivers and driver helpers. UPS promotes seasonal jobs as positions that can lead to year-round employment. In recent years, according to UPS, roughly 35% of people hired for seasonal package-handling jobs land permanent positions.

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Starbucks loses appeal, will rehire 7 fired Memphis workers

SEATTLE (AP) — Starbucks says it will reinstate seven employees who were fired in February after leading an effort to unionize their Memphis store. The seven will get their jobs back after the Seattle-based coffee giant lost an appeal of a lower court’s order to reinstate them. Starbucks says the workers violated company policy by reopening the store after closing time and inviting a television crew inside. But the National Labor Relations Board determined the company was interfering with the workers’ right to organize. Last month, a federal court in Memphis ruled Starbucks should reinstate the workers while its case was being heard. Starbucks appealed, but on Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld the lower court ruling.

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The S&P 500 rose 71.68 points, or 1.8%, to 3,979.87. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 435.98 points, or 1.4%, to 31,581.28. The Nasdaq advanced 246.99 points, or 2.1%, to 11,791.90. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 39.68 points, or 2.2%, to 1,832.