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Update on the latest in business:

July 5, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asia braces for US-China tariffs as stocks fall

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets tumbled today as China reiterated its determination to protect its interests in a rancorous trade dispute with Washington. Trading was subdued in the absence of leads from Wall Street with markets closed yesterday for the Independence Day holiday.

Today, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.8 percent and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.0 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 1.1 percent and the Kospi in South Korea lost 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX/200 bucked the regional trend, adding 0.5 percent. Shares fell in Taiwan and Southeast Asian indexes were mostly lower.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freddie Mac reports the weekly mortgage rates today.

Also, the Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for June and the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its June interest-rate meeting.

TRUMP-OIL

Trump says gas prices are up, OPEC ‘doing little to help’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says OPEC is “doing little to help” rising gas prices and claims “if anything, they are driving prices higher.”

Trump tweeted Wednesday: “The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!”

Last month, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel agreed to pump 1 million barrels more crude oil daily, a move that should help contain the recent rise in global energy prices. However, summer months in the U.S. usually lead to increased demand for oil, boosting the price of gasoline in a midterm election year.

RENEWABLE ENERGY MANDATE

Renewable energy push in sunny Arizona draws political fight

PHOENIX (AP) — The state’s largest utility is fiercely opposing a push to mandate increased use of renewable energy in sun-drenched Arizona.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona aims to ask voters whether they want the state Constitution to require half of Arizona’s electricity come from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030.

The group plans to file more than 225,000 signatures Thursday get the question on the November ballot.

California billionaire Tom Steyer is financing the initiative through his NextGen Climate Action group, which supported similar efforts in Nevada and Michigan. Only the Arizona measure spawned a political fight.

Arizona Public Service Co. says the proposed constitutional amendment will cause customers’ utility rates to skyrocket and harm reliability.

Its parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp., spent $1.18 million to oppose the initiative in the first three months of the year.

US-CHINA-TARIFFS

China rejects ‘blackmail’ on eve of US tariff hike

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese government spokesman says Beijing “will not bow in the face of threats and blackmail” on the eve of U.S. tariff hikes and will defend its interests.

The Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, says that Beijing will wait to see what Washington does before taking action of its own.

The Trump administration is poised to raise tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports on Friday in the dispute over technology policy. China has threatened to retaliate.

Gao said at a news conference today that “China will not bow in the face of threats and blackmail.” He said if Washington acts, China will “fight back to defend the core interests of the country and the interests of the people.”

CHINA-US-TECH RELIANCE

China push to end reliance on US tech at trade fight’s core

BEIJING (AP) — Fears that China is threatening U.S. technology leadership in robots, electric cars and other advanced technologies are pushing the world’s two biggest economies toward a full-blown trade war as the two sides prepare to impose tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s products.

Despite the threat from President Donald Trump of tariff hikes on up to $450 billion of Chinese goods, Beijing shows no sign it will scale back plans it sees as a path to prosperity and global influence.

Still, China remains heavily reliant on technologies from the West.

A key Chinese weakness is in semiconductors, used in everything from smartphones to cars. Even after decades of government-backed programs to nurture such knowhow, high costs and research challenges mean China still needs years to create its own.

CHINA TARIFFS-EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE

Europe could suffer collateral damage in US-China trade war

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European businesses are unsettled as they watch the U.S. and China collide over trade.

And for good reason: the nascent global trade war presents the biggest threat to the economic upswing that has helped the region get past its financial crisis.

In theory, some European companies could benefit, jumping into market niches if Chinese businesses are kept out of the U.S. market. But that would only be a few companies or sectors.

When your entire economy is heavily dependent on trade, an overall slowdown in global commerce caused by tit-for-tat import taxes provokes fear and undermines confidence.

And that’s just what’s happening in Europe. By one measure, business confidence has fallen in six of the past seven months in Germany, where exports are almost half of annual economic output.

CHINA-HNA GROUP-CHAIRMAN DIES

Chairman of China’s HNA Group dies in accident in France

BEIJING (AP) — The co-chairman of HNA Group, a conglomerate that operates China’s fourth-largest airline, has died. The company says Wang Jian, a co-founder of the company, suffered “severe injuries” in a fall in Provence in southern France and died Tuesday at age 57.

Regional French media outlet France Bleu says Wang fell a dozen or so meters while taking photos on a high wall in Bonnieux, a town in a region famed for its panoramic views.

Launched in 1993, HNA expanded into finance, hotels, logistics and other businesses in a multibillion-dollar global acquisition spree, racking up tens of billions of dollars in debt.

Its holdings include stakes in Deutsche Bank and China’s fourth-largest airline, Hainan Airlines.

NEW ZEALAND-KIM DOTCOM

Kim Dotcom loses latest legal bid to avoid US extradition

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Flamboyant internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues have lost their latest bid to avoid extradition to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

New Zealand’s Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld earlier court rulings that the men were eligible to be handed over to U.S. authorities.

The decision comes more than six years after U.S. authorities shut down Dotcom’s file-sharing website Megaupload and filed charges of conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering against the men. If found guilty, they could face decades in prison.

Megaupload was once one of the internet’s most popular sites. U.S. prosecutors say it raked in at least $175 million from people using it to illegally download songs, television shows and movies.

Dotcom says he can’t be held responsible for how others used the site.

GREECE-BITCOIN FRAUD

Russia makes new request to Greece for cybercrime suspect

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Russian authorities have sent a new extradition request to Greece for a Russian cybercrime suspect also sought on criminal charges by the U.S. and France.

Alexander Vinnik, 38, a former bitcoin platform operator, was informed of the new Russian request by Thessaloniki court officials Wednesday, and is not contesting it.

Russia initially sought Vinnik on lesser fraud charges. The new request raises the amount allegedly involved to 750 million rubles ($12 million).

Greece’s supreme court has already approved Vinnik’s extradition to the United States for allegedly laundering billions of dollars using the virtual currency. Vinnik had fought that decision.

Another court ruled for his extradition to Russia based on the first request. France wants him on charges including cybercrime and money laundering.

Greece’s justice minister will rule on the requests.

CROATIA-INDEBTED COMPANY

Creditors approve deal to save Croatia’s biggest company

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The creditors of Croatian retail and food company Agrokor have voted to approve a settlement deal that includes giving two Russian banks a more than 46-percent share in the country’s biggest firm.

The vote by some 450 creditor representatives in favor of the deal was held Wednesday in a sports hall in Zagreb. Some 80 percent voted in favor of the deal that avoids bankruptcy for Agrokor, the largest company in the Balkans with 60,000 employees.

The company, which accounts for 15 percent of EU-member Croatia’s GDP, collapsed under the weight of 8 billion euros ($9 billion) in debt, including a disputed sum owed to two Russian state-run banks, Sberbank and VTB.

GERMANY-FLYING TAXIS

Munich officials want train station to have air taxi parking

BERLIN (AP) — A group of city counselors in Munich say they want the southern German city’s main train station to have a landing pad for flying taxis.

Five city council members from the Christian Social Union party submitted a motion Wednesday calling on rail company Deutsche Bahn to consider the space needed for flying taxis in its plans for a future redesign of the station.

In their motion, they write that “it is to be expected that within a few years technology will have advanced so far that flying taxis can be used to transport people.”

The party, which has a majority across Bavaria but is in opposition in the state capital’s assembly, has recently been championing the idea of flying taxis as a future means of travel.

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