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Update on the latest in business:

March 19, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares mixed in muted trading ahead of US Fed meeting

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed in muted trading Tuesday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the week.

U.S. stock indexes finished modestly higher Monday, extending the market’s solid gains from a rally last week. The S&P 500 gained 10.46 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,832.94. The benchmark index is now up 13 percent for 2019 so far, which is a bigger gain than it’s had in four of the last five full years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 65.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,914.10. The Nasdaq composite added 25.95 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,714.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 10.39 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,563.93.

Some economists say the Fed could release documents Wednesday that would suggest one rate increase in 2019, or possibly zero, after the Fed raised rates four times in 2018 and three times in 2017.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped but remained just above $59 a barrel.

The dollar fell against the yen and the euro.

WHITE HOUSE-ECONOMIC REPORT

White House foresees long economic boom where others don’t

UNDATED (AP) — Contrary to the views of most economists, the Trump administration expects the U.S. economy to keep booming over the next decade on the strength of further tax cuts, reduced regulation and improvements to the nation’s infrastructure.

The annual report from President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers forecasts that the economy will expand a brisk 3.2 percent this year and a still-healthy 2.8 percent a decade from now. That is much faster than the Federal Reserve’s long-run forecast of 1.9 percent annual economic growth.

The administration’s forecast hinges on an expectation that it will manage to implement further tax cuts, incentives for infrastructure improvements, new labor policies and scaled-back regulations — programs that are unlikely to gain favor with the Democratic-led House that would need to approve most of them.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House council, insisted that the president’s economic agenda would provide enough fuel to drive robust growth at a time when the majority of economists foresee a slowdown due in part to the aging U.S. population.

He said the biggest risk to growth would be if financial markets anticipate that Trump’s existing policies would be reversed. Without getting into specifics, Hassett said the risk would be if markets expect that the winner of the 2020 presidential election would shift away from policies such as the tax overhaul that Trump signed into law in 2017.

LYFT-IPO

Lyft opens its IPO road show, to offer more than 30M shares

NEW YORK (AP) — Lyft officially kicked off the road show for its initial public offering, saying Monday it plans to put more than 30 million shares up for sale with an anticipated price of between $62 and $68 per share.

That would raise more than $2 billion for the San Francisco ride-hailing company, pegging its market value at $20 billion to $25 billion, even though it hasn’t been able to turn a profit yet.

It’s the first time that Lyft has revealed how much money it hopes to raise in the IPO, and how much it believes it’s worth. Those financial targets could still change as Lyft’s investment bankers gauge demand for the company’s stock leading up to the IPO pricing, which is expected to happen next week.

Lyft and Uber have raced to be first with an IPO, and Lyft’s rival is expected to offer shares in the coming weeks.

Uber is hoping its larger ride-hailing service will justify a market value as high as $120 billion after its IPO is completed later this spring, according to the Wall Street Journal.

HAWAII-PLASTIC BANS

Hawaii weighs first-in-nation plastic bans at restaurants

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.

Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii’s measure would make it the first to do so statewide. The liberal state has a history of prioritizing the environment — it’s mandated renewable energy use and prohibited sunscreen ingredients that harm coral.

A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws.

The Hawaii efforts would be stricter than in California, which last year became the first state to ban full-service restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws, and broader than in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities that have banned some single-use plastics.

Activists believe the foam container measure has a better chance of passing in Hawaii.

ETHIOPIA-PLANE CRASH

CEO says Boeing working to ensure 737s are safe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing’s CEO says the airliner maker is taking actions to ensure the safety of its 737 Max jets in the wake of two crashes that killed 346 people.

In an open letter addressed to airlines, passengers and the aviation community, Dennis Muilenburg says Boeing will soon release a software update and offer related pilot training for the 737 Max to “address concerns” that arose in the aftermath of October’s Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189. The planes’ new flight-control software is suspected of playing a role in the crashes.

Muilenburg says Boeing representatives are supporting the investigation into the cause of last week’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 that killed 157.

The United States and many other countries have grounded the Max 8s and larger Max 9s as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes in less than five months.

TESLA-CONTEMPT OF COURT

SEC says Musk’s contempt defense ‘borders on the ridiculous’

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. securities regulators are fighting back against Tesla CEO Elon Musk, arguing that he should be held in contempt for brazenly violating a federal court order.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says in a response to Musk filed Monday night that he didn’t get a single tweet approved by a company lawyer, violating terms of the October order that settled fraud allegations.

Agency lawyers wrote that Musk interprets the order as not requiring pre-approval unless he decides the tweets are meaningful to investors. The agency said Musk’s argument that tweeting about car production forecasts wasn’t material information “borders on the ridiculous.”

The settlement stemmed from tweets by Musk in August about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share when the funding wasn’t secured

JEFF BEZOS-NATIONAL ENQUIRER

Report: National Enquirer paid $200K for private Bezos texts

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Enquirer’s publisher paid $200,000 to obtain intimate texts between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his mistress Lauren Sanchez. American Media Inc., the supermarket tabloid’s publisher, reportedly paid that sum to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother.

The Journal’s finding, attributed to people familiar with the matter, parallels the conclusion reached by private investigators working for Bezos as of early February. Those investigators reportedly found that Michael Sanchez had leaked the texts to the Enquirer, although they didn’t appear to conclude who might have paid for them.

Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges and publicly declared that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated.

NUNES-TWITTER LAWSUIT

Nunes sues Twitter, users for defamation and negligence

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (NOO’-nehs) of California is suing Twitter and several of its users for more than $250 million, accusing them of defamation and negligence.

The defendants include two anonymous parody accounts, “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” The suit filed in Virginia accuses Twitter of “knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory.”

Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act provides internet services with immunity from liability for material posted by their users.

Nunes’ suit also accuses Twitter of censoring “viewpoints with which it disagrees” and “shadow-banning conservatives.”

Shadow banning allows users to post freely — but no one else sees their messages. Twitter has denied doing it, although some political conservatives —including President Donald Trump — remain unconvinced.

LEGISLATURE-OPIODS

Minnesota House passes bill to fight opioid epidemic

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House has voted to hold drug manufacturers responsible for the state’s growing costs for dealing with the opioid crisis.

The bill passed 94-34 Monday night. It would support prevention, education, intervention, treatment and recovery strategies.

The state would pay for them by sharply raising its annual registration fees for pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug wholesalers that sell or distribute opioids in Minnesota. The fees would bring in $20 million a year.

Democratic Rep. Liz Olson of Duluth says the costs to taxpayers have been huge. But Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says the bill will raise health care costs for all Minnesotans.

An opioid bill is also moving through the Senate and has another hearing Tuesday