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Update on the latest business

October 2, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street as retailers and car companies lose ground but technology companies edge higher.

Stitch Fix, an online clothing seller, plunged more than 30 percent after its user totals fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

Pepsi fell after warning that the strong dollar will hurt its results. Mining companies rose along with the prices of gold and other metals.

Small-company stocks fell broadly.

FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELL

Fed Chair Powell says gradual rate hikes best approach

BOSTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he sees no need to drop the central bank’s current gradual approach to raising interest rates.

Powell says the current combination of steady, low inflation and very low unemployment show the country is going through “extraordinary times.”

He says the central bank is trying to make sure it doesn’t raise rates too quickly and push the country into a recession or move too slowly and set off higher inflation.

He adds that the Fed’s goal of gradual increases in interest rates is an effort to balance those risks and extend the current expansion, now the second longest in U.S. history.

Powell’s comments came in a speech prepared for the annual conference of the National Association of Business Economics in Boston.

AMAZON-WAGES

Amazon raising minimum wage for US workers to $15 per hour

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon is boosting its minimum wage for all U.S. workers to $15 per hour starting next month.

The company said Tuesday the wage hike will benefit more than 350,000 workers, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal positions.

Pay for workers at Amazon can vary by location. Its starting pay is $10 an hour at a warehouse in Austin, Texas, and $13.50 an hour in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The median pay for an Amazon employee last year was $28,446, according to government filings, which includes full-time, part-time and temporary workers.

Amazon has more than 575,000 employees globally.

EPA-RADIATION ROLLBACK

APNewsBreak: EPA says a little radiation may be healthy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is quietly trying to weaken radiation rules, relying on scientific outliers who argue that a little radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight.

That proposed change would be a departure from decades-old guidance that any exposure is a cancer risk. Critics say it could lead to higher levels of exposure for workers at nuclear installations and oil and gas drilling sites, medical workers doing X-rays and CT scans, and other individuals who might be exposed to radiation releases.

The Trump administration already has targeted a range of other regulations on toxins and pollutants that it sees as costly for businesses. Supporters of the new proposal argue the government’s current no-tolerance rule for radiation forces unnecessary spending for handling exposure.

EMERGENCY ALERT

Emergency alert test going out to mobile phones nationwide

WASHINGTON (AP) — About 225 million mobile devices across the U.S. will receive a test emergency alert Wednesday.

It’s the first nationwide test for a wireless phone emergency alert. It will be sent at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it’ll sound like an Amber Alert or flood warning. The subject will read: “Presidential Alert.” The text will say: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

A test of broadcast systems will happen at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

FEMA officials say the test will last about a half-hour so some people may get it at different times. They expect about 75 percent of all wireless users to get the alert. The alert would be used in the event of a major nationwide emergency.

TRUMP-TRADE

Trump heads to Philly to promote trade, economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is set to promote his new North American trade agreement and the nation’s economic performance in Philadelphia on Tuesday, a day after he heralded the agreement in a Rose Garden press conference.

Trump is traveling to Pennsylvania to address the National Electrical Contractors Association Convention.

Trump will then hit the campaign trail in Southaven, Mississippi, across the border from Memphis, Tennessee, to campaign on behalf of Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Hyde-Smith was appointed to temporarily fill the seat held by Sen. Thad Cochran when he retired in April. She faces Democratic former Rep. Mike Espy in the Nov. 6 special election.

WTO-TRADE-JACK MA

Jack Ma warns US-China trade war would ‘hurt everybody’

GENEVA (AP) — Alibaba founder Jack Ma says the trade dispute between the U.S. and China could “unfortunately” last 20 years.

However, he expressed hope a solution could be reached as a trade war would “hurt everybody.”

The Chinese e-commerce billionaire also questioned the focus among some on trade deficits, calling it a relic of the 20th century. U.S. President Donald Trump has long derided the U.S.’s whopping deficit with China.

Ma defended trade at a World Trade Organization seminar Tuesday: “When trade stops, sometimes the war starts. So trade is the way to stop wars. Trade is the way to build up trust. It’s not the weapon to fight against each other.”

Ma said the business community “should stand up and say: ‘We don’t need a war, we need business.’”

AP POLL-YOUNG AMERICANS-FINANCES

Poll: Half of young Americans see better financial future

UNDATED (AP) — A new poll shows about half of young Americans expect to be financially better off than their parents, a sign the dream of upward mobility is alive but somewhat tempered.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV found half of 15- to 26-year-olds think they will eventually be better off than their parents in terms of household finances. About 29 percent expect to do as well as their parents, and 20 percent expect to be worse off.

Parents are slightly more optimistic: 60 percent think their children will do better than they did, a view that held true for parents across all income groups. Overall, only 12 percent of parents say they feel their children might do worse.

KROGER-WALGREENS PILOT

Kroger and Walgreens partner on sales pilot

UNDATED (AP) — The nation’s biggest grocery and drugstore chains are testing a plan to work together, trying to keep pace with Americans who increasingly shop with the click of a button or a swipe on an iPad.

Walgreens will begin selling Kroger products in 13 stores near Cincinnati, where Kroger is based, and allow customers to use its locations to pick up Kroger groceries ordered online.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., based in Deerfield, Illinois, has about 9,800 U.S. drugstores. Kroger Co. runs 2,800 locations.

Drugstores have shifted product lineups in recent years, adding food and health and wellness items, potentially luring more shoppers who want to cut down on trips to multiple stores.

CVS Health Corp. is already running pharmacies and clinics inside of Target stores.

TOBACCO-ENVIRONMENT

UN: Tobacco kills not just people, but the environment

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says smoking not only kills about 7 million people every year, but has a devastating impact on the environment — contributing to deforestation, water and soil damage and acidification.

In a new report released on Tuesday, experts warned that the environmental footprint left by tobacco production is comparable to that of entire countries. It said producing the 6 trillion cigarettes made every year hurts the planet more than the mass production of food crops.

Nicholas Hopkinson, one of the report’s authors, said cigarettes should be considered an “unethical product” given its toll on the environment.

Experts calculated that a single person smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes per day for 50 years is responsible for 1.4 million liters of water depletion.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA-EMPLOYMENT

New rulings on medical marijuana use go against employers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — New court rulings have favored medical marijuana users trying to keep or obtain jobs at drug-testing employers, an emerging trend after a series of decisions against medical pot users nationwide.

The latest ruling came in Connecticut this month, when a federal judge said a nursing home violated an anti-discrimination provision of the state’s medical marijuana law when it rescinded a job offer to a woman after she tested positive for the main chemical in pot. It was the first such ruling in a federal case.

The nursing home cited several federal laws including the Controlled Substances Act, which makes pot illegal.

Medical marijuana advocates hope the new rulings are a signal of growing acceptance of cannabis’ medicinal value.

CHICAGO HOTELS STRIKE

Hundreds remain on strike at 10 downtown Chicago hotels

CHICAGO (AP) — Hundreds of workers remain on strike at 10 downtown Chicago hotels, while workers have reached new contract deals at more than a dozen other hotels.

The walkout began nearly a month ago. Members of hotel workers union Unite Here Local 1 rallied outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Monday, continuing to press their demand for year-round health insurance for employees laid off during slower months. Three Hyatt hotels are among the largest of those still facing strikes.

The rally came after strikers at four Hilton hotels and the Inn of Chicago ratified new contracts over the weekend. Marriott earlier reached a new deal with the union.

Hyatt Hotels says the union is uncooperative and that it’s offered the same extended health care as the other hotels.

TRIX-CLASSIC FRUITY SHAPES

Classic fruity shapes returning to Trix cereal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Trix lovers from the 1990s are rejoicing as the cereal is going retro.

General Mills on Monday announced it is bringing back Classic Trix Fruity Shapes. The shapes first appeared in 1991, but the company returned the cereal to its original round shapes in 2006.

The company says it has seen more than 20,000 requests in the last 18 months to bring the shapes back. General Mills Cereal marketing director Scott Baldwin says Trix was the first fruit-flavored cereal that was colorful and fun when it was launched in 1954.

Classic Trix, featuring the bright colors the cereal was known for, was relaunched in 2017.

Classic Trix Fruity Shapes hit store shelves this fall.

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