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Update on the latest in business:

November 27, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares rise despite Trump’s latest talk on tariffs

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets clocked more gains Tuesday ahead of a meeting between the U.S. and China at the Group of 20 summit this week, despite President Donald Trump’s comments that it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll hold off on raising tariffs as Beijing requested.

Technology and retail companies led a recovery of U.S. stocks, which suffered big losses last week. Monday marked the first full trading day of the holiday shopping season. Amazon surged 5 percent and Nike gained 1.7 percent. The S&P 500 index closed 1.6 percent higher at 2,673.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5 percent to 24,640.24 and the Nasdaq composite jumped 2.1 percent to 7,081.85. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.2 percent to 1,505.96.

Oil futures fell on concerns over rising stockpiles and slowing economic growth. OPEC representatives and other major oil producers will meet in Vienna next week to discuss a possible cut in production. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $51.50 per barrel.

The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.

APPLE-WOMEN IN TECH

Apple to tutor women in tech in bid to diversify industry

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is launching a new program designed to address the technology industry’s scarcity of women in executive and computer programming jobs.

Under the initiative announced Monday, female entrepreneurs and programmers will attend two-week tutorial sessions at the company’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.

The camps will be held every three months beginning in January. For each round, Apple will accept up to 20 app makers founded or led by a woman. The app maker must have at least one female programmer in its ranks to qualify. Apple will cover travel expenses for up to three workers from each accepted company.

Like other major tech companies, Apple has been trying to lessen its dependence on men in high-paying programming jobs. Women filled just 23 percent of Apple’s technology jobs in 2017, according to the company’s latest breakdown . That’s only a slight improvement from 20 percent in 2014, despite the company’s pledge to diversify its workforce.

The idea behind the new camp is to keep women interested and immersed in the field, said Esther Hare, Apple’s senior director of world developer marketing.

JAPAN-AUTO ALLIANCES

Renault-Nissan typical of uneasy East-West auto partnerships

TOKYO (AP) — The arrest of Nissan’s former chief executive Carlos Ghosn has raised doubts over the future of the alliance among automakers Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors that he helped to forge. Such partnerships wax and wane over time, but they’ve grown in importance as companies develop electric vehicles, net connectivity and artificial intelligence for autos.

Ghosn was arrested Nov. 19 in Tokyo on suspicion of under-reporting his income and other financial misconduct. The boards of Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motor Corp. voted unanimously to oust him as chairman, while Renault SA of France has kept him while seeking more information about his case.

With Ghosn gone, speculation is growing Nissan may review its alliance with Renault. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault, with the French government also holding a 15 percent stake. Renault rescued Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy in 1999, but the Japanese automaker is now more profitable than its French partner.

MALAYSIA-DISNEY-FOX

Malaysian resort company sues Disney, Fox over theme park

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian resort developer is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from Walt Disney Co. and Fox Entertainment Group for alleged breach of contract related to a theme park.

Genting Malaysia Bhd said in a statement Tuesday that it filed the lawsuit in the Central California District Court on Monday citing damages from Fox’s withdrawal from the project. Calls to Disney rang unanswered after office hours.

Reports said Fox backed out of its five-year-old agreement to license its intellectual property for a Fox World theme park in Resort World Genting after disagreements over the terms of the deal. Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox also raised issues because Genting’s resort includes a casino, which conflicts with Disney’s stance against gambling. The theme park would have been Fox’s first.

FEMALE FUNERAL DIRECTORS

Death becomes her: Women make inroads in funeral industry

NEW YORK (AP) — A training program for the next generation of morticians and undertakers is testament to a change that is slowly remaking the funeral business.

Sixty of the 75 students in the program at the State University of New York Canton are women, and those numbers are no fluke.

In 2017, nearly 65 percent of graduates from funeral director programs in the United States were female, according to the American Board of Funeral Service Education. That’s the highest number ever recorded by the board. Women are being drawn in record numbers to a profession in which, just a few decades ago, it was rare for anyone but to work.

Women coming out of the SUNY Canton program, though, say that for all the progress, they still encounter barriers.

While a majority of people looking to enter the profession are women, 74 percent of morticians and funeral directors are still men, according to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Stereotypes about women not being strong enough to lift coffins, or worries about exposing pregnant workers to embalming chemicals, make some male funeral home owners reluctant to hire women.

TRUMP-MEDICARE DRUGS

Proposed changes on Medicare drugs, but would costs go down?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is proposing changes to Medicare’s prescription drug benefit that would affect people’s costs over the next few years.

Officials say their goal is to lower costs and modernize Medicare, the government health insurance program that covers about 60 million seniors and disabled people. Some proposals could create winners and losers among seniors, insurers, middlemen and drugmakers.

The changes include more leeway for insurers to exclude a specific drug in Medicare’s six “protected classes” of medications. Also, use of e-prescribing would grow. And insurers could require “step therapy” for drugs given in a doctor’s office, which means patients first have to try a lower-cost drug.

The administration is also calling for changes to Medicare rules so rebates from drugmakers get passed on to beneficiaries at the pharmacy.

GENERAL MOTORS-RESTRUCTING

GM restructuring plans draws ire of Washington

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors’ decision to slash its workforce by 14,000 and possibly close five plants Is drawing criticism from Washington.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. has done a lot for GM and that it needs to produce cars that sell better. Trump says his administration and lawmakers intend to pressure the automaker.

The restructuring reflects changing North American auto markets as manufacturers continue to shift away from cars toward SUVs and trucks. In October, almost 65 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were trucks or SUVs. That figure was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.

Analysts say GM is shedding cars largely because it doesn’t make money on them, It’s shifting its focus more to autonomous and electric vehicles.

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES BREAKUP

United Technologies to break into 3 independent companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Industrial conglomerate United Technologies is planning to break itself into three independent companies now that it has sealed its $23 billion acquisition of aviation electronics maker Rockwell Collins.

The company based in Farmington, Connecticut, scheduled a call with investors for Tuesday that it says is to announce its intention to separate into three companies.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the new companies will house United Technology’s aerospace, building systems operations and Otis, a maker of elevators, escalators and moving walkways. The building systems business includes the Carrier air conditioning and heating brand.

On Friday, United Technologies said it received final regulatory approval for its deal for Rockwell Collins, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based maker of flight deck avionics, cabin electronics and cabin interiors.

KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

Pipeline builder asks judge to allow pre-construction work

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline is asking a Montana judge to change his order blocking the oil pipeline to allow pre-construction work to continue.

Attorneys for TransCanada will argue on Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Brian Morris should clarify or amend his ruling to say the injunction does not apply to activities such as finalizing contracts, purchasing materials, conducting land surveys and discussing federal permits.

On Nov. 8, Morris blocked TransCanada’s permit to build the pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to ship oil through a half-dozen U.S. states to the Gulf of Mexico.

The judge had ruled the Trump administration had not fully considered the environmental effects of the pipeline, and he ordered a new review.

TransCanada’s attorneys say the company wants to continue preparing for construction while it considers an appeal.

LETTUCE OUTBREAK

US officials: It’s OK to eat some romaine, look for labels

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s OK to eat some romaine lettuce again, U.S. health officials said. Just check the label.

The Food and Drug Administration narrowed its blanket warning from last week, when it said people shouldn’t eat any romaine because of an E. coli outbreak. The agency said Monday the romaine linked to the outbreak appears to be from the California’s Central Coast region. It said romaine from elsewhere should soon be labeled with harvest dates and regions, so people know it’s OK to eat.

The FDA says people shouldn’t eat romaine that doesn’t have the label information. For romaine that doesn’t come in packaging, grocers and retailers are being asked to post the information by the register.

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