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Update on the latest in business:

August 2, 2018


Asian markets extend losses on China-US trade jitters

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares slipped today, tracking losses overnight on Wall Street, where investors sold industrial stocks following reports that the Trump administration is considering a higher tax rate on Chinese imports.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index sank 1.0 percent while the Shanghai Composite index lost 2.0 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 2.2 percent and the Kospi in South Korea shed 1.6 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 skidded 0.6 percent. Shares also fell in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

On Wall Street Wednesday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq picked up 0.5 percent to 7,707.29. But other benchmarks were lower overall after the Trump administration said it might put a 25 percent tax on $200 billion in imports from China. It had proposed a 10 percent tax in July, shortly after imposing a 25 percent tax on $34 billion worth of imports. China again threatened to retaliate. The S&P 500 index shed 0.1 percent to 2,813.36. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3 percent to 25,333.82 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 0.1 percent to 1,669.26. Almost two-thirds of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange traded lower.


Major business and economic reports scheduled for Thursday:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freddie Mac releases its report on this week’s average mortgage rates today.

Also, the Commerce Department reports on factory orders during June.

There are some earnings reports due out today.

Aetna and Yum Brands report quarterly financial results before the market opens.


Short-term health plans cheaper but cover less

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s new regulation expanding short-term health insurance plans contains what amounts to a legal life preserver in case a key feature is struck down by a court.

Up to now, short-term health insurance has been a niche product, covering people for several months or less than a year.

The Trump administration now says that short-term plans can last up to 12 months and be renewed for up to 36 months. Making the plans renewable is a novel twist. And it could draw a court challenge.

A “severability clause” in the rule spells out that if the 36-month provision is invalidated, the rest of the regulation would still stand. That would allow insurers to keep marketing the plans, instead of throwing the entire regulation into doubt.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York is vowing to do everything in his power to block the administration.

Short-plans cost about one-third as much as comprehensive coverage but don’t have to cover pre-existing medical conditions.


Facebook page’s removal angers Washington protest organizers

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Organizers of a counter-protest of a white supremacist rally in the nation’s capital say they are shocked and upset that Facebook disabled their event’s page this week, saying it had been created by “bad actors” misusing the social media platform.

Facebook defended the move, saying the page violated its ban on “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and may be linked to an account created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

But the organizers of next weekend’s counter-protest in Washington say Facebook has undermined their organizing efforts by suggesting their event could be linked to a Russian campaign to meddle in U.S. politics.

Black Lives Matter DC organizer April Goggans says she fears Facebook’s crackdown left many people with the false impression that a Russian bot is behind their event.


Tesla posts $717.5M 2Q loss, burns $739.5M cash

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Tesla burned through $739.5 million in cash last quarter as it geared up a factory to crank out more electric cars, leading to a $717.5 million net loss.

The company says it lost $4.22 per share as revenue grew 43 percent to just over $4 billion from April through June.

Adjusted for stock-based compensation, the company lost $3.06 per share. That was worse than Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a $2.88 loss per share.

The net loss more than doubled from the same quarter a year ago.

Tesla spent millions as it reached a goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week by the end of June. Cash from Model 3 sales is key to holding off more borrowing. CEO Elon Musk has promised a net profit in the third and fourth quarters.


Dunkin’ Donuts announces first gluten-free product

CANTON, Mass. (AP) — A larger portion of America’s population can say they run on Dunkin’s.

Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts has recently updated its menu with the company’s first gluten-free product — a fudge brownie.

The individually wrapped snack is among several new ones, including Donut Fries, ham and cheese roll-ups and waffle-breaded chicken tenders.

The company’s spokesman says it wants to recognize the importance of providing alternative choices for people with dietary restrictions.

The brownie will be loaded with 350 calories and 34 grams of sugar. That tops even the Boston Kreme Donut, which is 300 calories.

The chain has recently undergone several changes, including naming 50-year-old David Hoffman as its new CEO in July.


Papa John’s founder: I should be back as chain’s public face

NEW YORK (AP) — The founder of Papa John’s says the pizza chain needs him back as its public face, and that it was a mistake for the company to scrub him from its marketing materials after he acknowledged using a racial slur last month.

John Schnatter (SHNAH’-tur) says in an interview with The Associated Press that he believes he can return to TV and radio ads once the public understands the context of his comments.

He says, “My persona resonates with the consumer because it’s authentic, it’s genuine and it’s the truth.”

Schnatter has been under fire after Forbes reported last month that he used the N-word during a media training conference call in May. He apologized for using the word, but said it was taken out of context and that he didn’t use it as an epithet. He resigned as chairman quickly after the report was published, but subsequently called the decision a “mistake.”


Ex-Pilot Flying J president seeks sentencing delay

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The former president of the nation’s largest fuel retailer convicted of defrauding customers of more than $23 million is seeking to delay his sentencing, citing faulty math.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported Wednesday that Mark Hazelwood is set to be sentenced Aug. 22 for his part in a five-year fraud scheme that shorted trucking companies.

Hazelwood’s new defense team argues that they need three months to challenge external audits tallying fraud by Hazelwood and other employees. They say the company paid trucking customers that claimed fraud regardless of whether the claim could be proved, thereby inflating the fraud attributed to Hazelwood.

Hazelwood fired his defense team earlier this year, blaming the lead attorney for his conviction. Case Judge Curtis L. Collier has repeatedly said he wouldn’t delay sentencing.


Phoenix public transit to try Waymo to connect more riders

PHOENIX (AP) — Five months after Uber pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona following a fatal accident, Google spinoff Waymo is putting the technology back on Phoenix streets in partnership with the city’s transit system.

Valley Metro, the agency that oversees metro Phoenix’s light rail and buses, had already been in talks about partnering with Waymo for several months before the accident last March that killed a pedestrian. The company’s safety record is impeccable, but they are always trying to improve, according to Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith.

Waymo announced in a blog post Tuesday a pilot program that would allow riders to hail an autonomous car to the nearest Valley Metro transit stop. Riders would order a vehicle through the Waymo app.

Valley Metro employees will be the first to try out the technology.

The program is more of a research project, for now, with the company trying to gather data about the experiences of riders,


Spotify takes down Alex Jones podcasts citing ‘hate content’

UNDATED (AP) — The music streaming service Spotify says it has removed some episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” podcast for violating its hate content policy.

The company said in a statement late Wednesday that it takes reports of hate content seriously and reviews any podcast or song reported by customers.

Jones is an Austin, Texas-based radio host and conspiracy theorist. He owns the media company “Infowars.” Among other claims he has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax.

Jones says his shows, which are broadcast on radio, YouTube and other platforms, reach at least 70 million people a week.

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