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Update on the latest in business:

August 23, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stock markets mixed after US-China tariff hikes

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed today after the United States and China imposed new tariff hikes on each other’s goods in an escalation of their battle over Beijing’s technology policy.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5 percent and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.7 percent while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 0.3 percent. Seoul’s Kospi was off 2 points. Benchmarks in Southeast Asia and Taiwan advanced while New Zealand declined.

On Wall Street Wednesday, the U.S. bull market became the longest on record after tech stocks and retailers gained while industrial companies declined. The run of 3,453 days without a drop of at least 20 percent, the traditional definition of a bear market, beat the 1990s stretch that ended in the dot-com collapse in 2000.

The S&P 500 index ended down 1.1 points at 2,861.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.3 percent, to 25,733.60. And the Nasdaq composite gained 0.4 percent to 7,889.10.

US-CHINA TARIFFS

US, China raise tariffs in new round of trade dispute

BEIJING (AP) — The United States and China imposed more tariff hikes on billions of dollars of each other’s automobiles, factory machinery and other goods today in an escalation of a battle over Beijing’s technology policy that companies worry will chill global economic growth.

The increases came as envoys met in Washington for their first high-level talks in two months. They gave no sign of progress toward a settlement over U.S. complaints that Beijing steals technology and its industry development plans violate Chinese free-trade commitments.

The 25 percent duties, previously announced, apply to $16 billion of goods from each side including automobiles and metal scrap from the United States and Chinese-made factory machinery and electronic components.

In the first round of tariff hikes, President Donald Trump imposed 25 percent duties on $34 billion of Chinese imports on July 6. Beijing responded with similar penalties on the same amount of American goods.

The Chinese government says today’s U.S. increase is a violation of World Trade Organization rules and China says it would file a legal challenge.

TRUMP-FINANCIAL MARKETS-MARKETS RIGHT NOW

Trump marks record bull market with tweet

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump is marking the bull market in U.S. stocks — now the longest on record — with a tweet.

Trump writes, “congratulations America!” in response to the development.

The current bull run on Wall Street became the longest in history on Wednesday at 3,453 days, beating the bull market of the 1990s that ended in the dot-com collapse in 2000.

Trump has pointed to the stock market as a sign that the economic policies he’s implemented are working.

But critics fear that his moves to impose tariffs and spark trade disputes with a number of countries could reverse those gains.

SAUDI ARABIA-OIL

Saudi Arabia says it ‘remains committed’ to Aramco IPO

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia says it “remains committed” to an initial public offering of the state-run oil behemoth Saudi Aramco despite delays and growing speculation it may never be listed.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih issued a statement early Thursday saying “timing will depend on multiple factors, including favorable market conditions, and a downstream acquisition which the company will pursue in the next few months, as directed by its board of directors.”

Al-Falih did not elaborate. However, that acquisition is likely the Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s proposed purchase of a stake in petrochemical firm SABIC.

The IPO of Aramco is a major plank of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic plans for the kingdom.

There have been delays, however. Reuters on Wednesday quoted anonymous officials saying the IPO had been scrapped.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic events scheduled for today

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department releases new home sales data for July today

Also, Freddie Mac releases this week’s average mortgage rates.

FORD-POWER CABLE RECALL

Ford recalls electric car power cables due to fire risk

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling the charging cords for more than 50,000 plug-in hybrid and electric cars in North America because they could cause fires in electrical outlets.

The company says the 120-volt cords came with certain 2012 through 2015 Focus electrics and some 2013 through 2015 Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids.

Ford says plugging the cords into outlets that aren’t on a dedicated circuit or are on damaged circuits could cause wall outlets to overheat.

The company says it has reports of four fires but no injuries. In three of the fires, owners used extension cords, which Ford says owners should not do.

Dealers will replace the cords with ones that can sense high temperatures and shut off charging if necessary. Owners will be notified next week.

RAIL PORT-GEORGIA

New rail port connects north Georgia with ships on the coast

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A new inland port terminal is allowing shippers to move cargo between northern Georgia and the Port of Savannah by train rather than sending trucks through the jammed highways of Atlanta.

Gov. Nathan Deal attended the official opening Wednesday of the Appalachian Regional Port. The Georgia Ports Authority and state taxpayers spent $26.5 million building the rail terminal in Murray County.

Railroad tracks link the inland port to Savannah’s seaport more than 380 miles (610 kilometers) away. Port officials say moving more cargo by train should take up to 50,000 trucks a year off the roads between Atlanta and Savannah.

Griff Lynch, the port authority’s executive director, says the rail terminal could attract customers from north Georgia’s carpet industry as well as automakers in neighboring Tennessee and Alabama.

TRUMP-NATIONAL ENQUIRER

Relationship between Trump, Enquirer goes beyond headlines

NEW YORK (AP) — The plea deal reached by Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen has exposed a relationship between the president and the National Enquirer that goes well beyond screaming headlines.

Court papers show how David Pecker, longtime friend of the president and head of the Enquirer’s parent company, offered to help Trump stave off negative stories during the 2016 campaign.

Prosecutors also detail the tabloid’s involvement in payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal to keep quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.

The accusations threaten the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., both legally and in the court of public opinion.

The National Enquirer did not respond to a request for comment.

VENEZUELA-MONEY LAUNDERING

Executive pleads in $1.2B Venezuelan money-laundering scheme

MIAMI (AP) — A former Swiss bank executive has pleaded guilty to his role in a $1.2 billion money-laundering scheme involving Venezuela’s state-run oil and natural gas company.

Federal court records show that 44-year-old Matthias Krull pleaded guilty in Miami federal court on Wednesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering. The German national and Panamanian resident is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 29.

Authorities say the scheme began in 2014 with bribery and fraud at the state-run PDVSA oil and gas enterprise and grew over time. A criminal complaint contends the scheme involved members of the Venezuelan elite, money managers, brokerage firms, banks and real estate investment firms.

Krull acknowledged joining the conspiracy in 2016. Officials say Krull and others used Miami real estate and sophisticated false-investment schemes to conceal the embezzled money.

AUSTRALIA-HUAWEI

Australia bans Huawei from 5G network over security concerns

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei (wah-way) has been blocked from rolling out Australia’s 5G network due to security concerns.

The government says the involvement of a company “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” presented too much risk.

Huawei has said it would never hand over Australian customer data to Chinese spy agencies, but the government’s statement said no combination of security controls sufficiently mitigated the risk.

The decision also affects ZTE Corp, a Chinese maker of mobile devices.

Australia barred Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier, from bidding for contracts in 2011 for the national broadband network.

5G networks will start commercial services in Australia next year.

CUBA-MOBILE INTERNET

Cubans getting early taste of mobile internet in system test

HAVANA (AP) — One of the world’s least-wired countries is getting a little more connected.

Cubans with cellphones are getting mobile access to the internet in a tentative but significant opening of communications on the communist-governed island.

The state telecommunications company made mobile internet available at no cost starting early Wednesday for what it described in an announcement as a test of the network that would run through the day.

It follows two previous tests that that the company says have connected 800,000 people to the internet.

Public access to the internet in Cuba was limited to tourist hotels until 2013. The government has since authorized Wi-Fi hotspots and cybercafes. The company has previously said all 5 million of its customers would have internet access this year.

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