Business review from the Economist
Trump lifts deadline on China trade talks
President Donald Trump lifted a deadline of March 1 for China to agree to concessions on trade, after which he had threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports from 10 to 25 percent. The president tweeted that "substantial progress" was being made in negotiations with the Chinese and that he expected to meet his counterpart, Xi Jinping, to sign a deal in the coming weeks. No details were provided, but one of the promises China has reportedly made is not to depreciate its currency. A weak yuan makes Chinese exports cheaper.
The Shanghai stock market rose by 5.6 percent in response to the suspension of tariffs, its best day in three years. Investor sentiment was also lifted by comments from President Xi Jinping about quickening the pace of development in China's financial-services industry.
General Electric agreed to sell its biotechnology business to Danaher, a health-services group, for $21 billion. It is the biggest step taken to streamline GE under Larry Culp, who became chief executive last October and was Danaher's boss until 2014. The deal was welcomed by the conglomerate's weary investors; the proceeds of the sale will go toward reducing GE's debt.
The share price of Kraft Heinz plunged by 27 percent after the food company booked a $15.4 billion write-down, in part because its key Kraft and Oscar Mayer divisions were overvalued. It also revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission had opened an investigation into its accounting practices. Warren Buffett, who helped engineer the merger of Heinz with Kraft Foods in 2015, acknowledged that he had overpaid for his investment company's stake in the business.
The U.S. Justice Department conceded defeat after a federal appeals court dismissed its attempt to overturn AT&T's merger with Time Warner, describing the government's arguments as "unpersuasive." The merger was approved by a lower court last year.
Barrick Gold launched an $18 billion hostile bid for Newmont Mining, a smaller rival in the gold industry. Newmont retorted that its pending acquisition of Goldcorp, another mining firm, offered "superior benefits" to shareholders.
In a challenge to Amazon's ambitions in the online-grocery market in Britain, Ocado, a leader in online-supermarket technology, struck a deal to deliver Marks & Spencer's food products from 2020. Ocado will then cease selling goods from Waitrose, another upmarket food retailer, which has supplied Ocado with posh nosh since it started home deliveries in 2002. Last year Ocado signed an agreement with Kroger, the biggest U.S. supermarket chain, to develop its online-grocery business.
The name Merrill Lynch is to disappear. Bank of America bought the investment bank, which started in 1915, during the financial crisis in 2008. The wealth-management side will now be known simply as Merrill, and investment banking will fall under the Bank of America brand.
Global politics from the Economist
Tensions rise between India and Pakistan
Indian fighter jets bombed what they said was a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, in retaliation for a suicide-bombing in India that killed 40 paramilitary police. Pakistan responded by sending warplanes to strike at targets in India. In the aerial battle that followed, both countries claimed to have shot down some of the other's fighters. Pakistan captured an Indian pilot, but later freed him. The fighting is the worst since 1999, and marks the first time since the two countries acquired nuclear weapons that they have conducted bombing raids against one another.
President Donald Trump walked away from his summit with Kim Jong Un, North Korea's dictator, in Vietnam. The talks broke down when the North Koreans pushed for all sanctions to be lifted in exchange for dismantling Yongbyon, an old nuclear facility. The U.S. wants North Korea to reveal where all its nuclear weapons are stored, as a prelude to dismantling them.
Venezuela's dictatorship blocked deliveries of aid, which it sees as a foreign attempt to undermine it. Police, National Guardsmen and paramilitary groups drove back lorries carrying food and medical supplies, and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse people who were trying to escort the aid.
In a referendum, 87 percent of participants approved a new constitution for Cuba, which will legalize private property, subject to restrictions by the state, and limit the president to two five-year terms.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia named Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan ambassador to the United States, the first time a woman has been named to such a post.