US trade deficit falls 0.3% in June

The government on Friday reported on the U.S. trade gap for June. File/AP

Trade tensions spill onto Wall St. 

NEW YORK — Investors rattled by President Donald Trump's latest escalation in his trade war with China drove another round of selling on Friday.

The latest losses marked the fifth straight drop for the S&P 500 and the worst week of the year for the market just seven days after the benchmark index hit an all-time high.

The selling picked up a day after Trump shocked markets by promising 10 percent tariffs on all the Chinese imports that haven't already been hit with tariffs of 25%. China struck back Friday, saying it will take "necessary countermeasures" if Trump follows through on the new tariffs, which would kick in next month.

The re-escalation in tensions between the world's largest economies has raised worries about a global recession. Investors have responded by selling stocks and buying gold and government bonds. The heightened tensions have also raised Wall Street's expectations that the Federal Reserve will be forced to cut interest rates several times to cushion the trade war's blow.

"The threat of additional tariffs on China and the lack of any progress in the trade negotiations again have made investors more worried that the disruptions which have led the Fed to need to cut rates might in fact escalate faster than the positive impact of rate cuts," said Kate Warne, chief investment strategist at Edward Jones.

US trade deficit dipped in June

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit shrunk slightly in June, as did the politically sensitive trade deficit with China, the principal target of President Donald Trump's tariffs.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the gap between the goods and services the U.S. buys and what it sells abroad fell 0.3% to $55.2 billion in June from May. Exports declined 2.1% to $206.3 billion. Imports also fell 1.7% to $261.5 billion.

The Commerce Department report comes less than 24 hours after Trump escalated trade hostilities again. Trump has sought to reduce America's persistent trade deficit.

The deficit in the trade of goods with China fell 7.5% to $30 billion.

2 Fed officials say data did not cut

WASHINGTON — Two Federal Reserve officials who dissented from the central bank's decision to cut a key policy rate this week say they did not believe economic conditions justified the move.

Eric Rosengren, president of the Fed's Boston regional bank, says he saw no "clear and compelling" reason for the rate cut. Esther George, head of the Fed's Kansas City bank, says she would be willing to support a future rate cut should incoming data weaken.

The Fed on Wednesday approved by an 8-2 vote a quarter-point cut in the Fed's benchmark interest rate, moving it down to a new range of 2% to 2.25%. It was the first rate cut in more than a decade.

Trump: EU deal to help beef exports

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump celebrated a new agreement Friday to increase beef exports to the European Union, saying sales should increase by 46 percent in the first year.

Trump portrayed the agreement as standing up for farmers and ranchers. Producers have been hurt by retaliatory tariffs that China imposed after Trump imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products.

The European Commission announced in June that it had reached an agreement with the U.S. to allow more hormone-free U.S. beef onto the European market.

Exxon profits off on weak gas prices

NEW YORK — Exxon Mobil brought in $69 billion in revenue in the second quarter, down from last year's $73.5 billion.

Some of the benefits of rising crude prices, up 22 percent this year, were offset be natural gas prices, which have fallen almost 24 percent in the same time frame.

The nation's largest oil company said Friday that its profit fell 21 percent to $3.1 billion, or 73 cents per share, compared with last year's $4 billion, but that's still better than the per-share earnings of 66 cents that analysts were looking for, according to a survey by FactSet.

Oil production was 3.9 million barrels per day, up 7 percent from the same time last year. Exxon made key investments in the Permian Basin, spending $8.1 billion on capital and exploration overall, which was up 22 percent from last year. Permian production was up nearly 90 percent from the second quarter of last year.

Margins in the refining business improved, but remained near five-year lows, the company said. Planned maintenance at refineries remained high during the quarter, and results were also impacted by unscheduled downtime at refineries including the Baytown, Texas facility, where there was a fire in March.

Natural gas prices and industry product margins are challenged by short-term imbalances, the company said.

FedEx to invest $450M to upgrade hub

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FedEx Corp. is investing an additional $450 million to improve operations at its busy hub in Memphis.

The shipping giant's announcement Friday at Memphis International Airport increases its investment toward modernizing its hub to about $1.5 billion.

The company announced in March 2018 a $1.1 billion plan to build a sorting facility, install new systems and construct a new bulk truckload building to support internet commerce needs. FedEx has said the investment will help improve its efficiency and reliability as it delivers packages throughout the world.

Officials say the modernization is expected to be completed by 2025. The Memphis hub currently has 11,000 employees, and more jobs are expected to be added.

Texas in effort to block Sprint sale

NEW YORK — Texas is joining more than a dozen states suing to stop T-Mobile's $26.5 billion takeover of rival Sprint, arguing that the deal is bad for consumers because it would reduce competition.

It's the first Republican attorney general of the group, which now consists of 14 states and the District of Columbia. South Carolina is not among them.

California, New York and now Texas are leading the states' case. The states are not satisfied with the Justice Department's approval of the deal last week.

The federal government's conditions would make satellite-TV company Dish a new U.S. wireless provider. Critics worry that because Dish would still be a weaker competitor than Sprint currently is, the deal would still lead to higher prices and fewer consumer perks.

T-Mobile says it won't finalize the deal while litigation is ongoing.

Ferrari profits soar by 14%

MILAN (AP) — Ferrari says second-quarter profits rose 14 percent on higher deliveries, driven by its Portofino and 812 Superfast brands.

The Italian luxury sports car manufacturer said Friday that net profit in three months to end-June came in $204 million. Net revenue was up nearly 9 percent. Total shipments were 2,671, an increase of 8% over the previous year.

Sales dropped by 6 percent in the Americas to 803 vehicles due to model shifts in the 488 family. Europe and the Middle East, the largest market, grew by 11 percent to 1,195 vehicles.

Wire reports

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