Business review from the Economist

U.S.-China trade war escalates

China said it would increase tariffs on a range of U.S. goods in retaliation for President Donald Trump's decision to raise duties on $200 billion-worth of Chinese exports. The tit for tat followed the breakdown of talks that had tried to end the two countries' standoff over trade. In addition, U.S. officials said they were seeking to extend levies to all remaining Chinese imports to the United States. Both sides are holding off on imposing their punishing tariffs for a few weeks, giving negotiators time to try to end the impasse. Even if there is a deal, it is unlikely to reduce tensions between the two powers over trade and other matters.

The transfer of technology is another contentious issue for China and the U.S. A few days after the collapse of the trade talks, Trump and the Commerce Department signed orders blocking Huawei, a Chinese tech giant, from involvement with U.S. mobile networks and suppliers. The U.S. has pressed its allies to shun the firm, citing security worries, but has had only limited success.

The Chinese economy may be slowing more than had been thought, according to new data. China's retail sales grew at their slowest rate in 16 years in April. Industrial production expanded by 5.4%, the slowest rate in a decade.

Germany's economy grew by 0.4% in the first three months of the year compared with the previous quarter. That brought some relief for the government following a six-month period when the country almost slipped into recession. Officials warned that global trade rows could still knock the economy off course. In Britain, GDP rose by 0.5% in the first quarter, helped by businesses stockpiling goods ahead of the now-missed Brexit deadline of March 29.

Bayer lost a third court case in the U.S. brought by plaintiffs claiming that a weedkiller made by Monsanto, which Bayer took over last year, caused their cancer. This time the jury ordered the German conglomerate to pay $2 billion in damages to an elderly couple, a sum far greater than that awarded to the plaintiffs in two previous trials.

Officials in San Francisco voted to make it the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial-recognition software by the local government. Legislators worry that the technology, which is spreading rapidly, is unreliable and open to abuse.

WhatsApp, an encrypted-messaging app owned by Facebook, reported a security flaw that allows hackers to install surveillance software on smartphones by placing calls in the app.

The Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for iPhone users to sue Apple. The case centers on whether Apple's App Store, which takes a 30% cut of all sales, constitutes an unfair monopoly. Unlike Android-based rivals, Apple's phones are designed to prevent users from installing apps from other sources.

ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel abandoned a plan to merge their European steel assets because of tough resistance from the E.U.'s antitrust regulator.

Global politics from the Economist

ANC wins South Africa, but margin falls

The ruling African National Congress won South Africa's general election with 58% of the vote. The party had never before received less than 60% at a national poll. Many voters were put off by the corruption that flourished under Jacob Zuma, president from 2009 to 2018. The ANC might have done worse but for Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma. The Democratic Alliance got 21% of the vote.

Violence flared in Sudan as the ruling military council and protest groups tried to reach a political-transition deal. At least six people were killed.

Tensions rose in the Middle East, as officials in the Gulf said four oil tankers, including two from Saudi Arabia, had been sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Unnamed U.S. sources were quoted as blaming Iran or its proxies, but they presented no evidence.

Hundreds of thousands of students and teachers took to the streets of Brazil's state capitals to demonstrate against a 30% cut in the federal funding allocated to universities. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, who was in the U.S., called the protesters "useful idiots."

In Britain, Theresa May was facing a humiliating defeat at the European Parliament elections.

Sweden reopened a rape case against Julian Assange, who is in prison in Britain for evading bail.

Sri Lanka imposed a curfew after mobs began attacking mosques and Muslim-owned businesses.