Trump's tariff hike menaces strong economy

Exports from China (above) fell in April. STR/AP

Stocks end lower ahead of trade talks

NEW YORK — A modest rally faded in the last few minutes of trading on Wall Street, leaving stocks slightly lower Wednesday ahead of the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The late-afternoon reversal added to the market's losses following a steep sell-off a day earlier as investors worry that the costly trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies will escalate.

Financial markets turned volatile this week after President Donald Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods, a threat that is set to become reality early Friday. Negotiations between the U.S. and China are scheduled to continue in Washington on Thursday, and will include China's top trade official.

Trump said on Twitter that China is coming "to make a deal" but that he'll still be ready to raise tariffs if the negotiations fail to produce an agreement.

That appeared to give the market a boost, but it didn't last.

"Investors are concerned that a deal may not be forthcoming," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "You don't want to be caught off-guard by perhaps a negative comment out of Beijing overnight or, for that matter, the White House."

China exports fall amid US tariff war

BEIJING — China's April exports fell 2.7% from a year ago amid the country's tariff war with Washington, while imports rebounded to 4% growth.

The export figure released Wednesday was a striking decline from March's 14.2% growth and reflected weakening global demand as well as U.S. tariff hikes on Chinese goods.

Imports recovered from the previous month's 7.6 % decline in a new sign government efforts to reverse an economic downturn might be gaining traction.

Disney tops Wall St.'s 2Q estimates

NEW YORK — Disney's adjusted second-quarter net income declined as higher revenue from its parks was not enough to offset lower theatrical revenue. But the entertainment giant's results still beat Wall Street expectations.

Net income for the quarter ended March 30 jumped 85% to $5.34 billion, or $3.55 per share. The company's bottom line got a big boost from a non-cash gain from its acquisition of controlling interest in streaming service Hulu.

Adjusting for that and other one-time items, Disney's quarterly net income came to $1.61 per share, down from $1.84 a share a year ago. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.59 per share in the latest quarter.

Revenue edged up 3% to $14.92 billion. According to FactSet, analysts had expected $14.56 billion.

3 Mile Island nuke plant to close

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The owner of Three Mile Island, site of the United States' worst commercial nuclear power accident, says it now appears certain it will not get a financial rescue from Pennsylvania and said it will go ahead with a planned shutdown starting June 1.

Exelon Corp.'s Wednesday statement comes two years after the Chicago-based energy giant said it would close the money-losing plant without what critics have called a bailout. It's licensed to operate through 2034.

A roughly $500 million package for Three Mile Island and Pennsylvania's four other nuclear power plants has stalled in the Legislature. Exelon has won rescues in three other states, but in Pennsylvania it faced opposition from the state's natural gas industry.

Three Mile Island faces particularly difficult economics because the 1979 accident left it with just one reactor.

Siemens to cut 10K jobs in overhaul

FRANKFURT, Germany  — German industrial equipment maker Siemens says it will cut some 10,000 jobs in a major restructuring that will involve spinning off its oil, gas and power generation business and creating new areas of growth.

The company's gas and power division has been under pressure due to a broader trend toward renewable energy such as sun and wind power. Competitors such as General Electric and Mitsubishi have struggled as well.

Siemens said it would keep a significant stake of less than 50 percent in the spun-off company and would bundle in a majority stake in its renewable energies company. That would create what CEO Joe Kaeser called "a powerful pure play in the energy and electricity sector."

Kaeser also announced sweeping cost cuts to increase profitability at the company's remaining businesses.

Siemens AG said Wednesday that its net profit fell 5 percent $2.15 billion in the first three months of the year.

Saab plans AF jet plant in Ind.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Swedish manufacturer Saab says it will open an Indiana manufacturing site as part of its production of a new Air Force training jet.

Company officials announced Wednesday plans to spend $37 million on the facility at Purdue University's Discovery Park District Aerospace in West Lafayette. The move comes after Saab and Boeing won a $9.2 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force last year to build at least 351 T-X training jets.

Saab says construction on the facility is expected to start next year and that it could eventually have 300 workers, including jobs for assembly operators, airplane mechanics, manufacturing engineering and management.

UK power plants on coal hiatus

LONDON — Britain has gone a week without burning coal for electricity for the first time since the 19th century.

Power operator National Grid says coal hasn't contributed to the U.K. electricity mix since the afternoon of May 1.

The landmark was reached two years after Britain had its first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution.

Fintan Slye, director of National Grid Electricity System Operator, said Wednesday that coal-free power would become the "new normal" as Britain generates more power from wind, solar and other renewable sources.

The U.K. also relies heavily on natural gas and nuclear energy.

The government says Britain will eliminate coal from its power supply by 2025. It has set a deadline of 2050 to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions altogether. Environmentalists say that is not soon enough.

Wire reports

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