Business News at a Glance

Posted June 20, 2018 10:42 p.m. EDT

Trump’s Ace in the Hole in Trade War: A Strong Economy

The U.S. economy has picked up speed and is now on course to expand this year at the fastest rate in more than a decade. That acceleration gives President Donald Trump a stronger hand as he contemplates more tariffs and takes an increasingly confrontational approach with China, Canada, Mexico and other trading partners. Economists have raised their growth estimates for the second quarter to an annualized rate of nearly 5 percent, more than double the pace of the previous period. Some economists say the figure could hit 3 percent for the full year, a level last reached in 2005.

Britain Holds Up China Aerospace Deal Over National Security

Fears of a Chinese takeover of companies important to national security have felled deals around the world. Now, even the sale of a minor airplane parts-maker is being closely examined by British government officials. In delaying the proposed takeover of the parts-maker, Northern Aerospace, by a rival owned by a Chinese conglomerate, Britain appears worried that even a small supplier to Airbus and Boeing could have important national security implications. It is the latest instance of countries showing skepticism about China buying up the technologies it needs to create state-funded Chinese giants that would rival those from America and Europe.

Walmart ‘Surprised’ Old Store Is a Migrant Shelter. Records Hinted at the Possibility.

Walmart said it was “surprised and deeply disturbed” to learn that one of its former Texas stores was being used to house migrant children who had been separated from their parents. In a Twitter post, Walmart said when it sold the building in 2016 it had no knowledge of its intended use today. But real estate records show a Walmart executive signed a document that indicated the buyer was purchasing the property with a $4.5 million loan from a nonprofit that runs shelters for migrant children. Commercial real estate lawyers say Walmart was following industry practice to focus due diligence on the buyer not the lender.

With New Fox Bid, Disney Tries to Thread a Needle

The Walt Disney Co. has fired back in the fight for most of 21st Century Fox, with a $71.3 billion bid that tops an offer from Comcast. Disney is offering $38 a share, more than the $35 a share that Comcast offered last week. Fox shareholders can choose either cash or newly issued Disney shares, although Disney will limit the overall payouts to half cash and half stock. Adding a cash component to the bid is a response to Comcast’s all-cash offer. It is meant to appeal to Fox shareholders, who simply want to be paid out now, rather relying on the performance of Disney shares.

Instagram Allows Longer Videos in Challenge to YouTube

Expanding further beyond its origins as an app for sharing pretty photos, Instagram said Wednesday that it will now allow users to post videos up to an hour long, a feature that will thrust it into direct competition with YouTube and its own parent company. Instagram said it was debuting IGTV — a new video section for videos that are shot vertically, which is how people typically record things on smartphones. The company said it would also launch IGTV as its own stand-alone app in the next few weeks. Instagram, owned by Facebook, said it has 1 billion monthly users, far fewer than Google’s YouTube platform.

At OPEC Meeting, U.S. Pressure Frays Uneasy Agreement

At a conference arranged by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries grouping in Vienna, Iran’s oil minister delivered blunt remarks arguing that it was Washington — and not OPEC — that was to blame for the high oil prices President Donald Trump has railed against. The remarks indicate the cooperation among the world’s main exporters of crude, including Iran, Iraq, Russia and Saudi Arabia, to curb their output to bolster oil prices looks to be fraying in the face of angry broadsides from Trump, who is seeking cooperation from Saudi Arabia to force gasoline prices lower ahead of U.S. midterm elections.

As Auto Industry Transforms, Ford and Volkswagen Consider an Alliance

Volkswagen and Ford, two of the world’s biggest carmakers, have announced that they are exploring a strategic alliance, possibly joining forces for an array of projects like the development of vans. The deal does not involve any financial commitment from either company, for now. Traditional carmakers like Ford, Volkswagen and others are increasingly making investments in new technologies like autonomous and electric cars, as well as services like vehicle-sharing. But they risk being caught out as deep-pocketed tech giants and upstart businesses join the fray.

How a Few People Took Equifax to Small Claims Court Over Its Data Breach and Won

Christina Bernstein’s check finally arrived last week: $7,440 from Equifax for her trouble. The small-business owner in San Francisco was one of more than 145 million Americans whose financial information was exposed in the company’s huge data breach last year. Most got an apology and free credit monitoring from the consumer data clearinghouse, but Bernstein and a few others found a way to get compensated for their aggravation: Take the corporate giant to small claims court. Many who try don’t succeed, but a few have reached confidential settlements and others, like Bernstein, have prevailed.