Opening Bell 6.15.18

More mergers; Trump tariffs; Salad snobs and more!
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China regulators approve Qualcomm-NXP Semiconductors merger deal: SCMP [Reuters]

Chinese regulators have approved U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc’s (QCOM.O) proposed $44 billion merger deal with NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O), South China Morning Post reported on Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

U.S. consumer spending accelerating; labor market robust [Reuters]

Other data on Thursday showed a further tightening in labor market conditions, with first-time applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly falling last week and the number of Americans on jobless rolls declining to a near 44-1/2-year low.

The reports came a day after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for a second time this year and offered an upbeat assessment of the economy. The U.S. central bank described economic activity as “rising at a solid rate” and the labor market as continuing to “strengthen.” The Fed forecast two more rate hikes in the second half of 2018.

Trump Approves China Tariffs, Focuses More Closely on High Tech [Bloomberg]

President Donald Trump has decided to impose tariffs on about $50 billion in Chinese imports, according to two people familiar with the matter, in a move likely to escalate trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

The size of the approved tariffs matches the scale of duties proposed in April, suggesting the president isn’t bowing to warnings that trade penalties may derail relations with China as the U.S. seeks to maintain pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

The Trump administration had prepared a refined list of Chinese products to be hit with tariffs that homes in on technologies where China wants to establish itself as a leader, according to five different people familiar with the matter.

AT&T Closes Time Warner Deal After Judge’s Ruling [WSJ]

A Justice Department official said Thursday the government still hasn’t decided whether it will appeal the decision, but the agency won’t seek a stay of Judge Leon’s ruling, which could have prevented AT&T from finalizing the acquisition during any appellate litigation.

While the government isn’t standing in the way of the deal closing, it is reserving its right to appeal and try to break up the joined company later on.

Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, said Wednesday evening that the agency was still reviewing the 172-page ruling. “Do I agree with it? No, but if I was faced with the same facts and case and economics would I bring it again? Yes,” said Mr. Delrahim, adding that he believes “with every single bone in my body that the transaction would cause harm.”

12-year-old Halifax boy who doesn't like salad called 911 — twice [CBC]

Just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, RCMP responded to a 911 call from the boy who said one of his parents made a salad he didn't like.

However, before police arrived, the kid called 911 a second time asking when police would get there — and reiterated how much he disliked salad.

RCMP officers took it as an opportunity to speak to the boy not only about the salad but the importance of only dialing 911 when appropriate.

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