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AP morning business news brief – Aug. 17, 2023

by BIZ Magazine

China’s Xi calls for patience as Communist Party tries to reverse economic slump

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping has called for patience in a speech released as the ruling Communist Party tries to reverse a deepening economic slump and said the West’s pursuit of material wealth led to “spiritual poverty.” Xi’s speech was published by Qiushi, the party’s top theoretical journal, after data showed consumer and factory activity weakened further in July despite official promises to support struggling entrepreneurs. The government skipped giving an update on a politically sensitive spike in unemployment among young people. Xi called for China to “build a socialist ideology with strong cohesion” and to focus on long-term goals of improving education, health care and food supplies.

China’s government tries to defuse economic fears after real estate developer’s debt struggle

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government is trying to reassure jittery homebuyers after a major real estate developer missed a payment on its multibillion-dollar debt, reviving fears about the industry’s shaky finances and their impact on the struggling Chinese economy. Economists say there is no indication Country Garden’s problems might spread beyond China. But they highlight the industry’s struggle under pressure from the ruling Communist Party to reduce soaring debt that is seen as an economic threat. That has bankrupted hundreds of small developers and depressed China’s economic growth. A government spokesman tried to reassure the public, saying financial conditions are improving and regulators are getting debt under control.

China says it would welcome a visit by US commerce secretary after imposition of investment controls

BEIJING (AP) — China says it would welcome a visit by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo following the imposition of foreign investment controls by her agency that have stung numerous Chinese companies. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting did not offer a date, but said the countries are in “close communication on arrangements.” Earlier reports said a visit could come as early as later this month. Shu says China is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the investment controls and would respond on the basis of the results. U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this month to block and regulate U.S. high-tech investment in China, reflecting the intensifying competition between the world’s two biggest economies.

A Nigerian forest and its animals are under threat. Poachers have become rangers to protect both

OMO FOREST RESERVE, Nigeria (AP) — Omo Forest Reserve, a tropical rainforest in southern Nigeria, faces threats from excessive logging, uncontrolled farming and poaching. It is affecting a forest that UNESCO says is a habitat for threatened animal species including African forest elephants, white-throated monkeys, yellow casqued hornbill and pangolin. Former poachers are now working as forest rangers, joining the work to protect the resources they once threatened. As much as they have made progress, especially against poachers, the rangers say they are hindered by a shortage of manpower and the government’s lack of enforcement against environmental regulations.

Walmart’s hottest selling item? The basics. In an era of inflation, its future is looking brighter

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is reporting strong second-quarter sales results as the retailer’s low-price model continues to attract budget conscious consumers in a tough economic environment. The nation’s largest retailer boosted its annual outlook, sending shares 2% higher before Thursday’s opening bell. Walmart earned $7.89 billion, or $2.92 per share, up from last year and adjusted per-share profits of $1.84 was better than Wall Street had expected. Sales rose nearly 6% to $161.63 billion.

Norway raises key interest rate again to fight inflation

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway’s central bank says it’s raising its key interest rate by a quarter-percentage point to combat high inflation. Norges Bank is hiking the rate to 4%, the highest level since 2008. It said Thursday that inflation — which reached 5.4% in July — ”has edged down but remains high and markedly above the target” of 2%. It added that “a somewhat higher policy rate is needed to bring inflation back to target.” The head of the bank says the rate would most likely be raised again next month. Central banks worldwide have been raising borrowing costs to target price spikes fueled by the economic rebound from the pandemic and then Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Japan sank into a trade deficit last month as exports dropped, especially to other Asian nations

TOKYO (AP) — Japan suffered a trade deficit last month as exports sank for the first time in two years and five months, dragged down by a slowdown overseas. The Finance Ministry says exports from the world’s third largest economy shrank most markedly for the rest of Asia, especially China. Exports recovered in autos and auto parts, as the social restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had crimped production, eased gradually. But that was not enough to offset the drop in exports in computer chips, machinery and other manufactured goods. Imports fell in various sectors, including food, machinery and energy.

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