— Bulletin wire reports

China hints at trade progress

Negotiators are making progress toward finalizing a partial trade deal between the United States and China, including agreeing on the removal of some of the tariffs that have disrupted trans-Pacific commerce for the past year and a half.

But American and Chinese diplomats still must resolve several core issues before the text is ready for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign, according to people familiar with the talks.

“Our understanding is the two sides are very close to an agreement,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The timing is still to be determined.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday rose 182 points, or 0.7%, amid the positive signals.

Juul halts sales of mint e-cigarettes

Juul Labs said Thursday it will halt U.S. sales of its best-selling, mint-flavored electronic cigarettes as it struggles to survive a nationwide backlash against vaping.

The voluntary step comes days after new government research showed that Juul is the top brand among high schoolers who use e-cigarettes and that many prefer mint.

“These results are unacceptable,” said the company’s CEO K.C. Crosthwaite, adding in a statement that the company must “earn the trust of society.”

Under fire for its alleged role in sparking the vaping craze among teens, Juul has made a series of concessions to try and weather a crackdown from local, state and federal officials. It stopped selling popular fruit and dessert flavors in stores last year, and last month, stopped selling them online, too.

Earlier, the company replaced its CEO and pledged to stop advertising its products.

Coke to produce sparkling water

The Coca-Cola Company announced Thursday that it will launch a new flavored seltzer brand it is calling Aha in March 2020. Taking aim at weakening brand LaCroix and Pepsi’s successful Bubly line, Aha will come in eight flavors, two of which — Citrus Green Tea and Black Cherry + Coffee — will contain 30 mg of caffeine, riding another trend and aiming at contenders like Hi-Ball sparkling energy drink from Anheuser-Busch.

Aha, the brand’s biggest new release in a decade, will replace Coke’s Dasani sparkling water, which according to Shane Grant, president of Stills Business Unit for Coca-Cola North America, has underperformed.

Nielsen all-channel sales data in August put sparkling flavored water retail sales in the past 12 months at $2.45 billion. The segment is still tiny compared to carbonated soft drinks — $26.74 billion in sales in the same time period — but it represents a huge growth area.