Afternoon Coffee: China Opens Sorghum Anti-Dumping Investigation, Ships are Contaminating British Coast with Palm Oil

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In a sign of mounting trade tensions, China has opened an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into sorghum imports from the U.S., the New York Times reports. The decision, announced Sunday, could lead to steep tariffs on sorghum, demand for which U.S. farmers want to link with Chinese consumers’ increasing appetite for beef.

Palm Oil Dumping 

Ships are regularly dumping large quantities of noxious palm oil off the coast of Britain without legal consequences, according to The Telegraph. Palm oil spills can damage marine environments in a similar way to those involving fossil fuels, and two of the reported spills in the southern part of the North Sea stretched for 44 miles. 

Factory Orders

New orders for U.S.-made goods rose 1.7% in December, compared with the 1.5% economists had expected, CNBC reports. Business spending on new equipment, however, appeared to slow, rising just 0.4% in December. 

Economic Shocks 

And finally, a broader economic update: Stock markets plunged Friday and continued to sink Monday as strong hiring and wage growth stoked fears of inflation and rate hikes, Quartz writes.

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