Business News at a Glance

Posted May 18, 2018 10:47 p.m. EDT

China Pledges $200 Billion in U.S. Purchases by Overhauling Trade Rules

U.S. and Chinese officials made progress Friday toward an agreement to avert a trade war, with China pledging to increase its purchase of American goods by $200 billion by 2020, largely by lifting existing barriers that would make it easier for U.S. firms to sell and operate in China, according to a senior Trump administration official. The Chinese would also reduce tariffs and other nontariff barriers that hinder the flow of American goods and services into China. Removing tariffs and other structural barriers would essentially allow another $200 billion worth of goods to enter China through 2020, the official said.

Morrison Quits as Campbell Chief, Further Cutting Female CEO Ranks

Denise M. Morrison, weaned on assurances from her father that the future would someday be led by women, yearned for the executive suite years before she occupied it. When she finally reached the top, at Campbell Soup Co., in August 2011, she had few female peers in the upper ranks of the largest companies in the United States. On Friday, Morrison retired abruptly as Campbell’s chief executive. No specific reason was cited, but the company’s stock has slumped 30 percent in the past year and Campbell reported poor quarterly results Friday. There are now just 23 female chief executives running publicly traded companies on the S&P 500.

Cash-Rich Companies Set Record for Buybacks

American companies, flush with cash from the $1.5 trillion tax cut, bought back a record quantity of their own shares during the first three months of the year. Companies repurchased $178 billion of shares during the first quarter, up more than 42 percent from the same period in 2017, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The surge in buybacks has stoked controversy over the tax cut package. Republicans said the deal would be “rocket fuel” for the U.S. economy. Democrats argued the buybacks show that the tax cuts were a giveaway to the wealthy and won’t stimulate corporate investments and job creation.

Goldman CEO Blankfein Is Likely to Step Down in December

A new era at Goldman Sachs is taking shape. The Wall Street giant’s president, David M. Solomon, is likely to be named chief executive officer by the end of this year, and he is already structuring his senior management team, according to people familiar with the firm’s plans. The time frame for Solomon’s ascension has evolved since he was named sole president of the firm in March, establishing him as the heir apparent to longtime chief executive Lloyd C. Blankfein, 63. But exactly when Solomon would take over was not clear.

Student Loan Rates Are Expected to Rise.

Interest rates in general are rising, and so are the rates on student loans for the coming school year. Interest rates on federal student loans for undergraduates are expected to increase to 5.045 percent from 4.45 percent for the 2018-19 academic year, said Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on student financial aid. Rates on loans for graduate students are expected to go up to 6.595 percent from 6 percent; and rates on PLUS loans, for parents and graduate students, to 7.595 percent from 7 percent. The new rates take effect July 1, and apply to loans taken out for the following academic year.

Lawsuit Brought by Ex-Fox News Host Is Dismissed

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against Fox News filed by a former on-air host, Andrea Tantaros, who had alleged the network retaliated against her after she complained about being sexually harassed. Tantaros had claimed that Fox News’ founding chairman, Roger Ailes, arranged for her to be illegally surveilled, and that the network’s executives had schemed to create fake social media accounts, known as “sock puppets,” that defamed her online. Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote that Tantaros’ allegations were “based primarily on speculation and conjecture.”