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Update on the latest business

September 28, 2018


Stocks little changed

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are nearly flat in midday trading on Wall Street, after shaking off an early slump.

Chipmakers are giving the technology sector a boost, and energy companies are rising with oil prices.

Electric car maker Tesla plunged after federal regulators sought to remove Elon Musk as CEO, accusing him of securities fraud.

European markets fell after Italy’s populist government announced a sharp increase in spending that will add to the country’s already heavy debt load.


Facebook says 50M user accounts affected by security breach

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says it recently discovered a security breach affecting nearly 50 million user accounts.

The company says hackers exploited the “View As” feature on the service. Facebook says it has taken steps to fix the security problem and alerted law enforcement.


US consumer spending up modest 0.3 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer spending edged up a moderate 0.3 percent in August, the smallest gain in six months, as purchases of cars and other durable goods fell. A key gauge of inflation slowed slightly after posting its biggest annual gain in six years.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the rise in spending was the weakest since spending fell 0.1 percent in February. Spending had been up 0.4 percent in July. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for two-thirds of economic activity.

An inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve edged up 0.1 percent in August, a tiny gain which left prices rising 2.2 percent over the past 12 months, down from a 2.3 percent 12-month rise in July which had been the fastest pace in six years.


House passes GOP bill to make new tax cuts permanent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans have sped legislation through the House to expand their massive new tax law, capping their session for the year as they rush out of town to face voters in the November elections. The new bill would make permanent the individual and small-business tax cuts in the law.

Friday’s vote was 22-191 in the Republican-led House to approve the legislation. The vote was mostly along party lines. Democrats continued their solid opposition to tax-cut legislation, asserting it favors corporations and wealthy individuals over middle-income Americans.

It’s the second tax-cut proposal that Republican leaders have pushed in less than a year.

Prospects for the legislation in the Senate are weak, given the slim Republican majority and concern over the potential for further blowing up the deficit.


Government may gain new power to track, shoot down drones

WASHINGTON (AP) — An aviation bill that Congress is rushing to approve contains a little-noticed section giving authorities the power to track, intercept and destroy drones they consider a security threat, without needing a judge’s approval.

Supporters say law enforcement needs this power to protect Americans from terrorists who are learning how to use drones as deadly weapons.

Privacy advocates counter that the provision would give the government unchecked power to decide which drones are a threat and to restrict legitimate uses, including by news organizations.

The provision is tucked in a huge bill that provides disaster relief and authorizes programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drones.


Honda recalls 1.4 million cars to replace air bag inflators

NEW YORK (AP) — Honda says it will recall 1.4 million U.S. cars to replace Takata front passenger air bag inflators. The company says the recall, which covers Honda and Acura vehicles, is part of an attempt to get ahead of a government mandated schedule of recalls on the Japanese-made air bags.

Honda says owners of the vehicles should schedule the free repair at authorized dealerships as soon as possible.

The Honda recalls are the fourth part of a five-phase plan announced by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration in May of 2016. Honda says it is ahead of schedule with more than 77 percent of existing recalls repaired.

The inflators have resulted in the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, covering 37 million vehicles and about 50 million inflators.


AP Source: Elon Musk rejected settlement offer

DETROIT (AP) — According to a person knowledgeable about talks between Tesla and federal securities regulators, CEO Elon Musk rejected a settlement that would have allowed him to pay a small fine and stay on as CEO of the electric car company.

The person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations were private, said Friday that Musk rejected the offer because he didn’t want a blemish on his record.

On Thursday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking to oust Musk and alleging that he committed securities fraud with false statements about plans to take the company private.

To stay on as CEO, the person said that Musk would have had to agree to conditions including restrictions on when he could release information publicly.

The SEC said in its complaint that Musk falsely claimed in an Aug. 7 tweet that funding had been secured for Tesla Inc. to go private at $420 per share, a substantial premium over the stock price at the time.


SEC: Walgreens, 2 former execs misled investors

UNDATED (AP) — Walgreens and two former top executives are settling charges that they misled investors about the profit potential of its pending $16 billion merger with the European retail chain Alliance Boots.

In an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. agreed to pay a $34.5 million penalty. Former CEO Gregory Wasson and Wade Miquelon, former chief financial officer, will each pay $160,000, without acknowledging wrongdoing.

According to the settlement announced Friday, Walgreens in 2012 projected a combined, adjusted profit of $9 billion to $9.5 billion for 2016.

Though internal forecasts later revealed significant risks of not hitting that goal, the executives stuck the original forecasts. Finally, in August 2014, the company issued a 2016 forecast that was 20 percent lower. Shares tumbled 14 percent in one day.


Former UK minister Johnson doesn’t rule out challenging May

LONDON (AP) — Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says he thinks Prime Minister Theresa May’s blueprint for Brexit will lead to “political and economic disaster” and he has refused to rule out trying to replace May.

Johnson quit the government in July, citing his opposition to the prime minister’s plan for close regulatory and economic ties with the European Union after Britain leaves.

He told the BBC Friday the plan “doesn’t take back control, it relinquishes control. It forfeits control.”

Johnson declined to rule out challenging May when he was asked repeatedly about a leadership bid, but said she is “a remarkable person. She will go on for as long as she feels it necessary.”


World’s biggest shipping firm tests Russian Arctic route

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping group, says one its cargo vessels has successfully passed through the Russian Arctic on a one-off trial journey as a result of melting sea ice.

Palle Laursen, Maersk’s chief technical officer, says “the trial allowed us to gain exceptional operational experience,” adding the Venta Maersk and all systems aboard performed well in the unfamiliar environment.

Laursen said the ship arrived in St. Petersburg on Friday, after leaving Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Aug. 22. The vessel passed through the Bering Strait on Sept. 6.

The Northern Sea Route could be a shorter route for journeys from East Asia to Europe than the Northwest Passage over Canada because it will likely be free of ice sooner due to climate change.


Memphis civic leader, former Pinnacle Airlines CEO shot dead

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A civic leader and former airline executive has been fatally shot in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.

Police say Philip Trenary, the president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, was alone when he was shot Thursday night. Police say authorities are investigating whether he was killed in a robbery or as part of a “personal vendetta.”

Trenary was shot near where the chamber was holding its annual “Move it Memphis” race, near a large apartment complex and not far from historic Beale Street.

The 64-year-old Oklahoma native was a former airline executive lauded for his community work in his adopted city. He founded Exec Express Airlines in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1984. The company moved to Texas and was renamed Lone Star Airlines in 1987. Trenary moved to Memphis in 1997 to run a regional airline that morphed into Pinnacle, a $1 billion, 7,700-employee regional airline operator. He left the company in 2011. He was named president and CEO of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce in 2014.


Another term: Judge has MLB’s top selling jersey again

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge again has baseball’s most popular jersey.

MLB says the Yankee slugger’s No. 99 was the top seller for the second straight season. Judge beat out 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve, who will be trying to repeat as a World Series champion with the Houston Astros next month.

Judge and the Yankees will face Oakland in the AL wild-card game Wednesday. Teammate Giancarlo Stanton was ninth in jersey sales in his first season with New York.

MVP candidates Javier Baez and Mookie Betts each jumped seven spots into the top five. Baez, an electrifying infielder with the Chicago Cubs, ranked third. Betts, the AL MVP favorite with the Boston Red Sox, was fifth.

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