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Update on the latest in business:

March 28, 2019


Asian shares mixed as US, China set to resume trade talks

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower today following a decline on Wall Street, as investors awaited a resumption of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.6 percent and the Shanghai Composite index sank 0.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added nearly 0.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia and fell in Taiwan.

Technology and health care companies drove a broad slide in U.S. stocks Wednesday, erasing some of the market’s solid gains from a day earlier. The sell-off put the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to end the month with a loss and marked the second drop for the benchmark S&P 500 index this week.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.36 percent, raising some fears about a possible recession within the coming year.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.5 percent to 2,805.37. The Dow slid 0.1 percent, to 25,625.59. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 percent to 7,643.38. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks gave up 0.4 percent to 1,522.23.


Lyft hikes IPO target to $70-$72 a share as excitement rises

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lyft is lifting the price target for its initial public offering in a sign of the excitement surrounding the stock market debut of a ride-hailing service that’s gaining ground on its rival Uber.

With the revision disclosed Wednesday, Lyft is now seeking $70 to $72 per share, up from its previous goal of $62 to $68. If it attains its new pricing goal, Lyft will have a market value of about $24 billion, even though the San Francisco company still hasn’t turned a profit since co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer started the service in 2012.

Since then, Lyft and Uber have combined to popularize the trend of summoning a ride on a smartphone app that connects them to drivers who use their own cars to pick up passengers. The fares are split between the drivers and the ride-hailing companies that make the connections.


EPA: No toxic releases at Superfund sites in flooded Midwest

MEAD, Neb. (AP) — Federal regulators say flooding in the Midwest temporarily cut off a Superfund site in Nebraska that stores radioactive waste and explosives, inundated another one storing toxic chemical waste in Missouri, and limited access to others.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported no releases of hazardous contaminants at any of eight toxic waste sites in flooded parts of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. It has not issued any public health advisories or alerts, nor has it tested any of the soil and water at those sites.

The EPA identified the Nebraska Ordnance Plant in Mead, Nebraska, and the Conservation Chemical Corporation site in Kansas City, Missouri, as heavily flooded Superfund sites that required the agency to take immediate action to prevent the spread of contaminated groundwater.

Two Iowa sites — Railroad Avenue Groundwater Contamination Site that is part of Des Moines Water Treatment Plant, and the Mid-America Tanning Company site near Sergeant Bluff — had some minor flooding on the property but did not require the agency to immediately do anything. It plans to reassess once the flood waters recede.

The agency says the remaining four toxic waste sites were not affected by floodwaters, but road closures limited access.


Trump says Google is committed to US not Chinese military

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid growing concern about the risks of Google and other U.S. companies doing business in China, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the CEO of Google has “strongly stated” that he is “totally committed” to the American, not Chinese, military.

Earlier this month, Trump accused Google in a tweet of “helping China and their military, but not the U.S.”

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Google’s artificial intelligence venture in China and other U.S. companies’ business in the country indirectly benefit the Chinese military and create a challenge for the United States as it seeks to maintain a competitive advantage. Dunford’s comments reflect U.S. worries that any information an American company has or uses in China is automatically available to the Chinese government and its military.

Trump tweeted that in a meeting Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai “stated strongly that he is totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military.”

After the meeting, Google issued a statement saying Pichai had productive conversations with Trump about investing in the American workforce, emerging technologies and “our ongoing commitment to working with the U.S. government.”


Facebook extends ban on hate speech to ‘white nationalists’

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is extending its ban on hate speech to prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism.

The company previously allowed such material even though it has long banned white supremacists. The social network said Wednesday that it didn’t apply the ban previously to expressions of white nationalism because it linked such expressions with broader concepts of nationalism and separatism — such as American pride or Basque separatism (which are still allowed).

But civil rights groups and academics called this view “misguided” and have long pressured the company to change its stance. Facebook said it concluded after months of “conversations” with them that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.


Trump’s Federal Reserve pick owes unpaid taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s pick to serve on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors had a lien of more than $75,000 filed against him in January 2018 for unpaid taxes.

The president said last week he intends to nominate Stephen Moore to fill a vacancy on the Fed’s seven-member board, though he has not yet officially submitted the nomination.

Moore is a conservative economic analyst and frequent Federal Reserve critic. He is a well-known and often polarizing figure in Washington political circles. He served as a Trump campaign adviser in 2016 and helped Trump craft his tax cut plan.

Court records in Montgomery County, Maryland, show a $75,328 lien against Moore was entered in favor of the United States government for unpaid taxes, and for penalties and interest that may accrue from 2014.

The White House declined to comment. Moore did not immediately return a request for comment.


Steel producer Nucor to build $1.3B mill in rural Kentucky

BRANDENBURG, Ky. (AP) — Steel producer Nucor Corp. says it will build a $1.35 billion manufacturing mill in a rural Kentucky county, creating several hundred jobs while expanding its presence in the bluegrass state.

Gov. Matt Bevin says the steel plate mill to be built at Brandenburg in Meade County ranks as one of the state’s largest-ever single investments. After Wednesday’s announcement, the Republican governor who is seeking re-election this year received a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump.

Nucor CEO and President John Ferriola said the project will create about 400 jobs at an average annual salary of about $72,000 at the rural site some 45 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Louisville.

Ferriola said that with the Brandenburg project, the North Carolina-based company is currently investing more than $2 billion in its Kentucky operations.

Ferriola later praised Trump’s trade and tax policies that he told reporters helped make the Brandenburg project possible.


Man awarded $80M in lawsuit claiming Roundup causes cancer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. jury on Wednesday awarded more than $80 million in damages to a California man who blamed Roundup weed killer for his cancer, in a case that his attorneys say could help determine the fate of hundreds of similar lawsuits.

The six-person jury in San Francisco found that Edwin Hardeman proved that Roundup’s design was defective, it lacked sufficient cancer warnings and its manufacturer, agribusiness giant Monsanto, was negligent,.

It awarded Hardeman more than $5 million in compensation and an additional $75 million in punitive damages. Hardeman, 70, put his arm around his wife, Mary, as the verdict was read and hugged his attorneys.

Monsanto says studies have established that glyphosate, the active ingredient in its widely used weed killer, is safe. The company says it will appeal.


FAA defends its reliance on aircraft makers to certify jets

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under fire from lawmakers on Capitol Hill over the two deadly Boeing crashes, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday defended the agency’s practice of relying on aircraft makers to help certify their own planes for flight.

Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said the strategy has “consistently produced safe aircraft designs for decades.” And he said the agency would need 10,000 more employees and an additional $1.8 billion a year to do all the work now done by designated employees of the companies it regulates.

Under the self-certifying program, these employees perform tests and inspections needed to win safety approvals, with the FAA overseeing their work. The approach is credited with holding down government costs and speeding the rollout of new models.

But in the wake of disasters involving Boeing’s new 737 Max jetliner in Indonesia and Ethiopia, that practice has been seized on as evidence of an overly cozy relationship between the FAA and the industry.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said at a Senate subcommittee hearing that delegating safety work to the companies puts “the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

At the same hearing, the Transportation Department’s inspector general, Calvin Scovel III, said the FAA plans to significantly revamp its oversight of aircraft development by July. But the department gave no indication it intends to abandon the collaborative approach.


Japan’s Honda, Hino join SoftBank-Toyota mobility venture

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers Honda and Hino are joining a partnership between SoftBank and Toyota for mobility service innovation such as self-driving cars.

Japanese technology company SoftBank Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., the nation’s top automaker, announced late last year a joint venture for mobility services, in what they called a “united Japan” effort to face global competition.

Honda Motor Co., Toyota’s rival, and Hino Motors, Toyota’s truck division, say that each company will acquire a 9.9 percent stake in the 2 billion yen ($20 million) Toyota-SoftBank venture Monet Technologies Corp.

Each company invests $250 million yen ($2.3 million), according to the companies.

Toyota and SoftBank also announced today a Monet Consortium, which includes partnerships with 88 other companies, including Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan and East Japan Railway Co. to enhance mobility services.