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Update on the latest in business:

May 15, 2018


Asian stocks fall in muted trading amid trade uncertainty

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that he was working with President Xi Jinping of China to put Chinese telecom ZTE “back into business, fast” after U.S. sanctions threatened ZTE’s existence and 70,000 Chinese jobs. Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled for talks in Washington aimed at heading off the ongoing dispute. Washington has proposed imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products. In retaliation, Beijing is threatening tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. products.

On Wall Street yesterday, the S&P 500 index added 2.41 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,730.13 on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 68.24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,899.41. The Nasdaq composite rose 8.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,411.32. Small-company stocks fell. The Russell 2000 index lost its early gains, sliding 6.45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,600.34.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched remained just below $71 a barrel.

The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.


High court gambling ruling could aid sanctuary cities’ fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s decision striking down a federal law over sports betting could signal trouble for the Trump administration in its legal fight against so-called sanctuary states and cities.

The justices backed a robust reading of the Constitution’s limit on the federal government’s power to force the states go along with Washington’s wishes.

The court said the federal anti-gambling law is unconstitutional because “it unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion that “It’s as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals.”

There is a direct link between the court’s decision in the sports betting case and the administration’s effort to punish local governments that resist Trump’s immigration enforcement policies, several legal commentators said.

Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute said, “The court ruled definitively that the federal government can’t force states to enforce federal law. In the immigration context, this means it can’t require state or local officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.”


US retailer Gap sorry for T-shirt’s “erroneous” China map

HONG KONG (AP) — U.S. clothing retailer Gap has apologized for selling T-shirts with what it says was an “erroneous” map of China.

In a posting on its Chinese social media account late Monday, the company apologized for its “unintentional mistake” and promised to carry out “more rigorous reviews” in the future.

The company also said all the shirts in China have been recalled and destroyed.

Gap took action after photos began circulating on Chinese social media of a T-shirt with a map that appeared to leave out southern Tibet, the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing regards as Chinese territory.

The photos were reportedly taken at a Gap shop in Canada.

Gap is the latest of several companies that have apologized for perceived slights to China’s sovereignty.


Major business and economic events scheduled for Tuesday:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In today’s major business and economic events, the Commerce Department will release retail sales data for April and business inventories for March.

The National Association of Home Builders will release housing market index for May.

And Treasury will report on international money flows data for March.


Seattle backs tax on companies like Amazon to help homeless

SEATTLE (AP) — After weeks of heated debate, Seattle leaders have unanimously approved a tax on large businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks to fund the fight against homelessness.

The City Council backed a compromise plan that will charge large businesses about $275 per full-time worker each year. The so-called head tax would raise about $48 million a year to pay for affordable housing and homeless services.

Amazon raised the stakes this month when it temporarily halted construction planning on a 17-story tower near its hometown headquarters as it awaited a vote.

Amazon vice president Drew Herdener said in an emailed statement that the company was disappointed by the council’s decision to introduce “a tax on jobs.”


Amazon to open cashier-less stores in Chicago, San Francisco

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon, which opened a cashier-less store in Seattle this year, plans more locations in Chicago and San Francisco.

The company confirmed Monday that Amazon Go stores would open in the two cities, but didn’t say when. The store openings were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Seattle Times .

Shoppers enter the stores by scanning a smartphone app. Once inside, they can take soda, salads or anything else off its shelves and just walk out. Amazon’s technology, including overhead cameras, keeps track of what they buy and charges customers after they leave.


Trump defends decision to revisit action on Chinese company

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is defending his efforts to help a Chinese telecommunications company that violated U.S. sanctions.

Trump tweeted Monday that “ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies.”

Trump over the weekend shocked many when he tweeted that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping were “working together” to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast.”

The U.S. Commerce Department last month blocked ZTE Corp. from importing American components for seven years. The U.S. accused ZTE of misleading American regulators over sanctions against North Korea and Iran.


Foxconn selects company with close ties to Walker

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group has selected a company led by a Republican megadonor with close ties to Gov. Scott Walker to develop the master plan for its massive campus in Wisconsin.

The Taiwan-based electronics giant said it chose Hammes Company to be the lead developer on the $10 billion project that will house a display-screen factory on a campus spread over 2,900 acres. Foxconn could qualify for up to $4.5 billion in state and local taxpayer incentives if it employs 13,000 workers as envisioned.

Hammes is led by Jon Hammes, Walker’s campaign finance chairman for his re-election bid this year. Hammes is part owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and GOP causes over the years.


Driver: Tesla’s Autopilot engaged during crash

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The driver of a Tesla electric car that hit a Utah fire department vehicle over the weekend says the car’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode was engaged at the time of the crash.

Police in the Salt Lake City suburb of South Jordan said the driver also told them in an interview that she was looking at her phone before the accident.

The 28-year-old woman broke her foot when her car hit a fire truck stopped at a red light while going 60 mph.

Tesla co-founder Elon Musk said on Twitter that it was “super messed up” that an incident involving his company was receiving significant attention, while thousands of auto accidents a year are regularly ignored.


Settlement reached in Giants, Manning fraud case

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — Three memorabilia collectors have settled a lawsuit that claimed New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning provided bogus “game-worn” equipment that was sold to unsuspecting collectors.

A trial was set to begin next week in New Jersey.

A spokesman for the defendants, who included Manning, the Giants and the team’s equipment managers, says a confidential settlement was reached on Monday.

Manning and the team had denied the allegations.

An attorney for the plaintiffs confirmed the settlement Monday night.


Mexico’s banking system misplaces $18M to $20M in transfers

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s banking system has somehow misplaced between $18 million and $20 million in electronic transfers between banks. It’s the latest in a series of embarrassing breakdowns that have affected debit card purchases and e-payments.

Authorities at Mexico’s central bank and government agencies say they are not sure whether the problem with settlement transactions among banks was the work of outside hackers, insiders or errors.

But in a country where phishing emails and freelance debt collectors often use banks’ logos and letterheads, it is no secret that bank security standards are lax.

Depositors won’t be affected, but the banks themselves could take a hit on the missing money.


Modigliani painting fetches $157 million at auction

NEW YORK (AP) — A 1917 painting by Amedeo Modigliani of a reclining nude woman that was once considered obscene in Paris sold for over $157 million at an auction in Manhattan on Monday.

The painting was the highlight of Sotheby’s “Impressionist & Modern Art” sale featuring Pablo Picasso works spanning seven decades, and paintings by Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and Georgia O’Keeffe.

In the past half-dozen years, prices for Modigliani’s works have soared.

Picasso’s “Le Repos,” an image of his lover and “golden muse,” Marie-Therese Walter, sold for $40 million. It was one of 11 Picasso works that were offered Monday evening.

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