Friendly fire: In trade fights, Trump targets US allies, too

President Donald Trump agreed to delay new tariffs on Chinese imports by two weeks. File/AP

Stocks climb ahead of trade talks

NEW YORK — U.S. stock markets rose on Thursday after the U.S. and China took steps to ease tensions in their costly trade war, putting investors in a buying mood.

Technology, financial and consumer-focused stocks helped power the modest rally, which extended the market's solid gains from the day before despite losing some momentum in the final hour of trading. The benchmark S&P 500 index closed within 0.6% of its all-time high set July 26.

The U.S. agreed to delay another round of tariffs on Chinese imports by two weeks to Oct. 15. Meanwhile, Chinese importers have asked U.S. suppliers for prices for soybeans, pork and other farm goods — a sign they might step up purchases of American agricultural products.

The gestures stoked cautious optimism among investors that the next round of trade talks in October between Washington and Beijing may lead to some progress after a string of failed attempts at resolving the longstanding dispute.

"What's driving markets today is the potential for an interim trade deal," said Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust. "There's enough pain to (China's) domestic economy and there's enough pain to our domestic economy that it's in both presidents' interests to take a step back and have a little bit of breathing room right now. That's what's changed."

Inflation rate in US remains tame

WASHINGTON — Consumer prices slowed in August, rising by a slight 0.1 percent, reflecting a big drop in the cost of gasoline and other energy products.

The tiny increase in the consumer price index followed a much bigger 0.3 percent rise in July which had been driven by a jump in energy prices, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

With energy costs falling in August for a third month out of the past four, the overall price increase slowed leaving consumer prices rising a modest 1.7 percent over the past year.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.3 percent last month and 2.4 percent over the past year.

The Federal Reserve has been worried that inflation has been rising too slowly, citing this issue as one of the reasons it cut interest rates in July.

The central bank will meet again next week and investors are looking for another quarter-point rate cut as the central bank continues to battle various headwinds from a slowing global economy to the fallout from President Donald Trump's trade war.

Walmart to offer unlimited deliveries

NEW YORK — Walmart is rolling out an unlimited grocery delivery subscription service this fall as it races to gain an advantage in the competitive fresh food business.

The service will charge an annual membership fee of $98 for subscribers to access unlimited same-day delivery, which will be offered in 1,400 stores in 200 markets. By year-end, it will extend to a total of 1,600 stores — or more than half of the country.

The grocery services will be fulfilled by local stores and require a minimum order of $30. With same-day delivery, there's a four-hour minimum wait time between placing order and having it delivered. Walmart will also allow shoppers to order groceries online and pick them up at their local store or curbside for free. Curbside pickup is available at 3,000 stores and will expand to another 100 stores by the end of the year.

About 100,000 items, which include fresh food and pantry staples as well as select general merchandise like lightbulbs and basic toys, qualify for both grocery pickup and delivery.

Walmart says it will rely on its more than 45,000 personal shoppers to pick products off store shelves to fulfill orders. It will also continue using the same patchwork of delivery services as before, including Postmates and DoorDash.

Nissan SUV brake system eyed

DETROIT — The U.S. government's road safety agency is investigating complaints that the automatic emergency braking on the Nissan Rogue can turn on for no apparent reason.

The probe covers about 554,000 Rogue small SUVs from the 2017-2018 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 843 owners have complained to the agency and to Nissan about the problem. Owners reported 14 crashes and five injuries.

The agency says Nissan has issued a service bulletin and two customer service actions related to the problem. It will try to find a cause and could seek a recall.

Senate approves Trump Fed nominee

WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee Michelle Bowman to serve a full 14-year term on the seven-member Federal Reserve board. Bowman was approved on a 60-31 vote, winning the support of 49 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Only one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, joined Democrats voting no.

Another auto union official charged

DETROIT — A Missouri-based official at the United Auto Workers has been charged in Detroit with corruption in an alleged scheme to embezzle union money and also spend cash on golf, cigars, golf clubs and swanky stays in California.

Vance Pearson of St. Charles, Mo., was arrested Thursday. He is director of UAW's Region 5, which covers thousands of union members in more than a dozen states. Pearson is the 10th person charged in an investigation of union finances.

Protest close part of Texas ship channel

HOUSTON — A portion of the Houston Ship Channel has closed after about a dozen Greenpeace USA activists protesting the use of fossil fuels suspended themselves from a bridge ahead of a Democratic presidential debate.

The Coast Guard said Thursday that the closure came after the protesters on the Fred Hartman Bridge near Baytown were spotted. The debate is set for Thursday evening in nearby Houston.

Greenpeace activist Valentina Stackl told the Houston Chronicle , "The Democratic leadership will be here and the next president has the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a world without fossil fuels."

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says they and other public safety partners are monitoring the situation.

The Port of Houston, located along the ship channel, is home to the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.

Wire reports

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