Afternoon Coffee: Toy Sales No Fun for Manufacturers; $867 Billion Farm Bill Almost Done

The demise of Toys R Us last year has realigned how toys are sold, with big retailers like Walmart and Target adding inventory — but they’re not doing as much business as toy makers expected, The Wall Street Journal reports. Toy sales in November were down, according to a UBS report. “The shock in the toy market is a problem of distribution, not demand,” the WSJ writes.

Safety Nets and Hemp Help

The $867 billion Farm Bill faces a vote this week after months of tense negotiations, CNBC reports. It includes safety nets for farmers and a provision for industrial hemp legalization that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had introduced, CNBC reports. Also of interest is plan for exports. “The bill expands export opportunities for farmers by providing an additional $500 million in permanent funding over the next decade to help find new foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products,” CNBC reports.

What Is the Huawei Case About?

It’s clear that the arrest of Huawei’s CFO has upset China and undercut market confidence in  U.S.-China trade talks, but what is the U.S. alleging in its Iran sanctions investigation? Filings by U.S. prosecutors contend that Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada and awaits extradition to the U.S., didn’t cut ties with Skycom Tech Co. in 2009 as she has stated and that “Skycom was used as a front for Huawei’s dealings with Iran in an arrangement that duped banks into approving millions of dollars in transactions that violated sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal writes.

Inflation Seems in Check

And finally, an economic update: The producer price index, a measure of the wholesale market, rose a fraction for November and was up 2.5% year-over-year, the smallest increase this year, the AP reported about Labor Department data released Tuesday. “The figures suggest inflation pressures have subsided since late last year,” the AP writes.

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