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Update on the latest in business:

January 29, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks give up early gain

NEW YORK (AP) — An early gain for stocks was mostly gone by midday as investors assessed a mixed bag of corporate earnings.

Xerox and 3M rose after reporting solid results. Apple reports on its latest quarter after the close of trading.

Harley-Davidson sank 6.8 percent after reporting disappointing results.

Energy companies rose along with the price of crude oil. Concho resources added 1.3 percent.

CONGRESS-DRUG PRICES

Insulin probe on deck as Congress opens drug price hearings

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Republican lawmaker says the cost of insulin is “unacceptable” and he plans to investigate.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa released a statement Tuesday as Congress opened hearings on high U.S. prescription drug prices and how the government might put the brakes on them.

Grassley says he’s heard stories of people reducing their insulin doses to save money and vows to “get to the bottom of the insulin price problem.”

The pharmaceutical industry says price spikes of recent years have stabilized, but it’s facing increasing opposition, with President Donald Trump, congressional Democrats and now Grassley promising to act but with differing approaches.

The Finance Committee hearing on drug prices was to be followed by one in another panel, the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

US consumers rattled by shutdown, roiling markets

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence tumbled this month, tested by the partial government shutdown and roiling financial markets. Still, consumer spirits remains robust by historic standards.

The Conference Board, a business research group, says that its consumer confidence index fell to 120.2 in January, down from 126.6 in December.

The index measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both declined in January.

HOME PRICES

US home price gains slowed in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose at a slower pace in November, as sales have tumbled and affordability has deteriorated for many would-be buyers.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index grew 4.7 percent from a year earlier, dropping off from a 5 percent annual increase in October.

Home sales drifted downward for much of 2018, causing homes to sit on the market longer and price growth to slip. Buyers have found it difficult to afford a home due to a shortage of properties at a median price of roughly $250,000, last year’s rising mortgage rates and roughly six years of home price growth exceeding wage gains.

BREXIT

UK’s May seeks changes to Brexit deal as EU stands firm

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May says she plans to ask the European Union to change its Brexit divorce deal by altering an Irish border guarantee that is opposed by many British lawmakers.

EU leaders have ruled out any renegotiation, but May urged Parliament to give her a mandate by backing a call for the border measure to be replaced by “alternative arrangements.”

US-CHINA-HUAWEI

China urges US to withdraw extradition request

BEIJING (AP) — China’s foreign ministry is calling on Washington to withdraw its request for Canada to extradite a Huawei executive to face charges of lying to banks about possible dealings with Iran.

A ministry spokesman (Geng Shuang) complained that Washington “has shown disregard for the stern representations” from Beijing over the case of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer.

Meng was arrested Dec. 1 in Vancouver and faces an extradition hearing Wednesday.

The spokesman says, “We urge the U.S. to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant against Miss Meng Wanzhou and stop making such kinds of extradition requests.”

APPLE-FACE TIME BUG

Apple disables group-chat FaceTime function

UNDATED (AP) — Apple has disabled a group-chat function in FaceTime after users said a software bug could let callers activate another person’s microphone remotely.

With the bug, a FaceTime user calling another iPhone, iPad or Mac computer could hear audio — even if the receiver did not accept the call. The bug is triggered when callers add themselves to the same call to launch a group chat. That makes FaceTime think the receiver had accepted the chat.

The bug, demonstrated through videos online , comes as an embarrassment for a company that is trying to distinguish itself by stressing its commitment to users’ privacy.

Apple says, “We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”

SUPERBOWL-CASHLESS

Cashless Super Bowl coming? Visa says yes

ATLANTA (AP) — So you’re headed to the Super Bowl some year in the future, and you’re wondering how much cash you’ll need for the big game.

No worries: During its sponsorship renewal with the NFL through the 2025 season, Visa envisions the first cashless Super Bowl.

It won’t be this year, although 50 percent of concession stands that are available for making purchases for Sunday’s title game between the Rams and Patriots will be cashless. But it likely is coming.

Chris Curtin, Visa’s chief brand and innovation marketing officer, says “We want an experience that from head to toe will be a cashless experience. The NFL has agreed to partner with us in making that a reality. That is where our energy is now.”

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