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Update on the latest in business:

March 27, 2018


Stocks turn higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have turned broadly higher after wobbling between gains and losses during the morning.

The gains built on a powerful rally the day before that gave the market its biggest gain in more than two years. The market is still in the process of clawing back the huge losses it sustained last week.

Technology companies and banks contributed the most to the market’s upturn. Apple rose 1 percent and JPMorgan Chase increased 1.1 percent.


American consumers’ confidence slips

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers’ confidence has slipped after reaching an 18-year high last month.

The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index fell to 127.7 in March. That was down from 130 in February, which was the highest level since November 2000.

Consumers were less optimistic in March as their assessment of business conditions declined. Their short-term expectations — including their outlook for the stock market — also declined, although overall expectations remain favorable.

The business research group’s index measures consumers’ assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the next six months. They feel better about today’s economy than they have since March 2001. Their outlook also improved.


Home prices post another big gain

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices posted another big gain in January, pushed higher by a shortage of homes for sale.

Standard & Poor’s says its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index climbed 6.2 percent in January from a year earlier. That nearly matches December’s 6.3 percent gain, which had been the fastest 12-month growth in nearly three years.

The price of houses is easily outpacing wage growth and inflation.

Prices rose 12.9 percent in Seattle, 11.1 percent in Las Vegas and 10.2 percent in San Francisco. Chicago and Washington D.C. posted the weakest annual home-prices gains: 2.4 percent.

Homes for sale are scarce. It would take just 3.4 months to snap up the supply of available homes at the current sales rate, down from an average since 2000 of 6 months.


Zuckerberg declines to talk to British parliamentary panel

LONDON (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is snubbing a summons from a British Parliamentary committee investigating the rise of fake news, offering to send senior executives in his place.

Damian Collins, chairman of Parliament’s media committee, today urged Zuckerberg to “think again” about choosing not to appear and repeated an offer to have him testify via video link.

Facebook has offered to send chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer or chief product officer Chris Cox.

Zuckerberg is also under pressure to appear before U.S. Congress following allegations that consultants Cambridge Analytica harvested details of 50 million Facebook users and used the material in U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election.


McCormick offers bonuses, citing tax reforms

NEW YORK (AP) — McCormick & Co. is the latest company to offer employees bonuses, citing sweeping tax reforms that slashed corporate tax rates.

The spice-maker is offering $1,000 bonuses to eligible hourly employees and says it plans to “accelerate” wage increases, though it did not provide details. The Sparks, Maryland company will also us the tax cut to make investments, pay debt and benefit shareholders.

Many companies have announced one-time bonuses, with some also announcing wage increases, following the changes in the tax code. Others include Home Depot, Disney, Starbucks, and Walmart.


South Korean auto unions say changes to free trade deal would keep South Korean companies from entering US pickup market

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Unions at South Korea’s two-largest automakers, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, say plans to revise a free trade deal with the United States involve concessions that will prevent local automakers from entering the fast-growing U.S. pick-up truck market.

Hyundai’s labor union said Tuesday that South Korea’s government gave in to U.S. President Donald Trump at a time when the American market represents big opportunities. Kia’s labor union said it shares that view.

Hyundai said in a statement that it hoped the two governments would work together to defuse trade tensions.

South Korea and the U.S. agreed to push back the earlier agreed-to elimination of import tariffs on pick-up trucks by 20 years to 2041.

Hyundai has not yet begun commercial manufacturing of pick-ups but plans to in the future.


Waymo to buy up to 20,000 vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover

NEW YORK (AP) — Self-driving car pioneer Waymo will buy up to 20,000 electric vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover to help realize its vision for a robotic ride-hailing service.

The commitment announced Tuesday marks another step in Waymo’s evolution from a secret project started in Google nine years ago to a spin-off that’s gearing up for an audacious attempt to reshape the transportation business.

The Jaguar deal will expand upon a fleet of self-driving cars that Waymo has been gradually building in partnership with Fiat Chrysler since 2015.

The minivans will be part of a ride-hailing service that Waymo plans to launch in Arizona later this year.

Jaguar will deliver its vehicles for Waymo’s ride-hailing from 2020 to 2022. Waymo says the 20,000 “I-Pace” models will provide up to 1 million rides per day.


Apple looks to regain ground in schools

CHICAGO (AP) — Apple is rolling out a new educational app and giving away extra online storage to teachers and students in an attempt to reclaim some of the ground that it has lost in U.S. classrooms.

The additional features announced Tuesday include an app called “Schoolwork” that is designed to help teachers make assignments and monitor their students’ progress. Apple is also offering teachers and students 200 gigabytes of free storage in its iCloud service so they can access documents, photos and other digital content from any internet-connected device.

Apple gives all accountholders five gigabytes of storage before charging for additional space. The company normally charges $3 per month for 200 gigabytes of storage.

The company announced its new classroom products at a Chicago high school to underscore its commitment to education.


Heineken pulls ad criticized as racist

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Heineken has removed a commercial for its light beer after some complaints that it was racist.

The ad featured a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken light. The bottle passes several black people before it arrives to a lighter-skinned woman. The tag line: Sometimes lighter is better.

Hip-hop star Chance the Rapper on Sunday tweeted the commercial was “terribly racist.” He said he thought some companies were purposely “putting out noticeably racist ads so they can get more views.”

In a statement, Heineken says while the ad was referencing Heineken Light, “we missed the mark.”

Heineken drew praise last year for its “Open Your World” commercials, which featured people of different backgrounds discussing their viewpoints.

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