Update on the latest in business:
Asia shares lower, most markets closed for Lunar New Year
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares are lower in most markets open in Asia with much of the region taking a break for the Lunar New Year.
Shares edged lower in Japan and India on Tuesday but surged 2.1 percent in Australia following a report on banking malpractices that was less severe than anticipated.
The weak showing followed a day of gains on Wall Street as buying of technology companies outweighed losses in health care, materials and utilities stocks.
The S&P 500 index rose 0.7 percent to 2,724.87 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.7 percent to 25,239.37. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite gained 1.2 percent to 7,347.54, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 15.48 points, or 1 percent, to 1,517.54.
A government report showed U.S. factory orders declined 0.6 percent in November, mainly due to lower demand for machinery and electrical equipment. That surprised economists, who had forecast a slight increase.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $55 per barrel.
The dollar strengthened against the yen and the euro.
STATE OF THE UNION-ECONOMY
Trump has solid US economy for SOTU, but threats remain
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will enjoy the backdrop of a mostly solid economy as he delivers his second State of the Union address Tuesday night, though questions about its sustainability linger.
Trump will likely tout the latest signs of strength: Friday’s jobs report showed that employers added the most jobs in January in nearly a year. And a separate report showed that factory output rose at a healthy clip in January.
Those figures, however, haven’t fully erased concerns about an array of headwinds facing the U.S. economy this year.
Several challenges loom: Overseas growth is stumbling, led by weakness in China, the world’s second-largest economy. Europe is hamstrung by a recession in Italy and the potential for an unruly Brexit. A trade war between the U.S. and China remains a threat.
SUPER BOWL-SPORTS BETTING
Fans in 3 states legally bet almost $185.5M on Super Bowl
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Football fans in three states legally bet almost $185.5 million on the Super Bowl this year, with sportsbooks ending Sunday with mixed results and Nevada operators seeing the first drop in the total amount wagered on the game since 2015.
The game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams was the first major professional sporting event to be posted on the boards of sportsbooks outside Nevada. All opened after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a federal ban on wagering on sports last year.
Figures released Monday by gambling regulators in Nevada show people wagered $145.94 million at the state’s 200 sportsbooks, $12.65 million less than in 2018. Sportsbooks operators in New Jersey accepted about $34.9 million in wagers and lost money, while in Mississippi, fans bet around $4.67 million at non-tribal casinos.
Nevada’s effective monopoly on sports betting ended last spring, when the Supreme Court ruled the ban should be lifted. Casinos in seven other states — Rhode Island, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Mexico — now accept wagers on sports. The list is expected to grow by next year.
New Jersey gambling regulators said sportsbooks lost $4.6 million when they paid $39.5 million to those who won bets. Many gamblers backed the Patriots, who beat the Rams 13-3 and covered the spread of 2 1/2 points.
UK official signs order to extradite tycoon Mallya to India
LONDON (AP) — A British official has signed an order that paves the way for tycoon Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India to face financial fraud allegations.
The government office that oversees immigration and other issues said in a statement issued on Monday that Home Secretary Sajid Javid “carefully considered all relevant matters” before signing the extradition order.
Mallya has 14 days to appeal.
Known for his flashy lifestyle, he was a leading figure among India’s business elite. He launched Kingfisher Airlines and owned a stake in the Force India Formula One team.
Mallya is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offenses.
He has multiple medical problems, but British Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled last month he could receive adequate medical care in prison if he were extradited.
Trump and Fed chairman Powell discuss economy over dinner
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says Chairman Jerome Powell had dinner at the White House with President Donald Trump on Monday, but the two men did not discuss the future course of interest rates.
Joining the president and Powell were Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) and Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida.
The dinner marks the first time Trump and Powell have met since Trump picked him for the top Fed job in November 2017. During the last three months of 2018, Trump was sharply critical of the Fed’s move to higher interest rates.
Last week, the Fed signaled that it planned to pause its rate hikes and would be “patient” before raising rates again. The announcement sparked a rally on Wall Street.
Google parent beats Q4 estimates, stock still drops
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google parent company Alphabet beat Wall Street expectations for its fourth quarter earnings Monday, although its stock slid in after-hours trading.
The company reported profit of $8.9 billion on revenue of $39.3 billion. Its revenue grew more than 21 percent from $32.3 billion a year ago. But analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings per share of $10.86, or a profit of $7.6 billion, on revenue of $38.9 billion.
Alphabet’s advertising commissions, or the money it pays other companies to direct people to its search, grew to $7.4 billion from $6.5 billion a year ago. Alphabet’s stock price dropped roughly 3 percent despite the beat in after-market trading Monday.
PUERTO RICO-ECONOMIC CRISIS
Judge approves massive Puerto Rico debt restructuring deal
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge has approved a big debt restructuring plan for Puerto Rico in the first deal of its kind for the U.S. territory.
Monday’s ruling involves more than $17 billion in government bonds backed by a sales-and-use tax. It requires Puerto Rico to pay $32 billion in the next 40 years.
Senior bondholders, who hold nearly $8 billion, will collect first and receive 93 percent of the value of the original bonds. Junior bondholders, many of whom are individual Puerto Rican investors and overall hold nearly $10 billion, will recover only 54 percent.
A federal control board that oversees the island government’s finances said the deal will help revive Puerto Rico’s economy. Opponents say it will only create more debt for an island mired in a 12-year recession.
New Jersey becomes 4th state to approve $15 hourly wage
ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law a measure that raises the hourly minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years.
The bill raises the current $8.85 minimum wage to $10 an hour in July, and then increases the rate by $1 in subsequent years until it reaches $15 in 2024.
New Jersey becomes the fourth state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact a phased-in $15 minimum wage. California, Massachusetts and New York have adopted similar proposals.
Murphy promised to raise the rate as part of his campaign for governor. Republicans and many businesses oppose the higher rate, saying it will raise costs.
Amazon adds Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer to board
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says it has named Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer to its board, making her the second black woman to ever sit on the online retailer’s board of directors.
Brewer is currently the chief operating officer at coffee chain Starbucks. She has also been CEO of Sam’s Club, the warehouse club owned by Walmart. Seattle-based Amazon and other big companies have been under pressure to diversify their boards, which tend to be made up of white men.
With Brewer’s addition, Amazon’s 10-person board now has four women members.
Tesla buys battery technology company
NEW YORK (AP) — Tesla is buying the battery company Maxwell Technologies Inc. about $218 million in stock.
The deal gives Tesla a boost in battery technology as it tries to cut costs and mass produce electric cars. Those improvements involve improving battery capacity and cutting down on recharging time.
Tesla expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, a growth rate of 45 percent to 65 percent compared with 2018. The company recently announced a 7 percent cut to its workforce.
Marketing firm to pay up to $8.5M over renewal policy
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — A company that sold ProActiv acne treatments and Wen hair products will pay up to $8.5 million to settle a California lawsuit that said it didn’t get customer consent for automatic renewal payments on their credit cards.
Authorities Monday said Guthy-Renker LLC also agreed to more clearly display its automatic renewal policy for products on its website.
The company was sued by members of the state’s Automatic Renewal Task Force, which includes district attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties and the Santa Monica city attorney’s office.
Guthy-Renker agreed to pay up to $7.3 million in customer restitution and $1.2 million in penalties.
SELF AWARE ROBOT
Robot, know thyself; machines get more self-aware
NEW YORK (AP) — Forget dreaming of electric sheep. Robots first need to figure out how to imagine themselves.
One New York robot has done just that. It’s learned that it’s a robotic arm using a process of self-simulation.
Columbia University engineers have given the robot the ability to model itself without prior knowledge of physics or its own shape. The robot starts out moving randomly, but over time learns enough about itself to be able to perform tasks and even detect if it’s been damaged.
Columbia mechanical engineering professor Hod Lipson says “self-awareness is the Holy Grail” of autonomy. He says there are ethical risks in gifting robots with self-awareness but also many benefits, including adaptability and resilience.
The research was published last week in Science Robotics.