Business Highlights

April 12, 2018


As royal wedding nears, brands benefit from ‘Meghan effect’

LONDON (AP) — Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry isn’t just a trans-Atlantic love story linking the House of Windsor to Hollywood. Their Mary 19 wedding is a boon for florists, bakers and tiara makers but also a bonanza for the broader British economy. A firm that reports annually on the monarchy estimates the glamorous bride-to-be alone will inject 150 million pounds ($210 million) into the U.K. economy as consumers try to mimic Markle’s style.


IRS head sees huge task ahead to administer new tax law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The acting head of the IRS says the current tax-filing season has gone well, while acknowledging the tough challenge the cash-strapped agency faces of administering the new tax law that will affect 2019 returns. Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter tells Congress that some 79 million refunds totaling about $226 billion have been issued so far, averaging $2,900 — up $13 from last year.


China denies Xi comments aimed at settling US dispute

BEIJING (AP) — China says President Xi Jinping’s pledges to cut import tariffs on cars and open China’s markets wider were not meant as an overture for settling a tariff dispute with Washington. State media on Thursday cited a commerce ministry spokesman as saying negotiations were impossible under ‘unilateral coercion’ by President Donald Trump’s government.


Lawmakers say Trump exploring rejoining Pacific trade talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States rejoining negotiations on the Pacific Rim agreement. He pulled the U.S. out last year as part of his “America first” agenda. Farm-state lawmakers say that at a White House meeting with Trump, he gave that assignment to his trade representative and his new chief economic adviser. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would open more overseas markets for American farmers.


Volkswagen replaces CEO Mueller, announces new structure

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen replaced CEO Matthias Mueller with core brand head Herbert Diess on Thursday and said it is creating a new management structure to enable faster decision-making as autonomous and electric cars transform the industry. The German automaker said in a statement that it would reorganize its management into six broad business areas plus China. It said the new structure would streamline decision-making in the individual operating units.


US long-term mortgage rates flat to higher; 30-year 4.42 pct

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were flat to slightly higher this week with the spring home buying season well underway. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages edged up to 4.42 percent from 4.40 percent last week. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans held steady this week at 3.87 percent.


US publishers worry about pricier newsprint with new tariffs

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Recently imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint are causing anxiety among U.S. publishers who say they’ll be forced to shut down or make further cuts in an industry already depleted by years of declining revenue. The tariffs are a response to complaint to the U.S. Department of Commerce from a hedge-fund owned paper producer in Washington state. That company is arguing its Canadian competitors have an unfair advantage with government subsidies. The tariffs could be finalized by September.


Former coal lobbyist confirmed as No. 2 official at EPA

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday confirmed a former coal industry lobbyist as the second-highest official at the Environmental Protection Agency, putting him next in line to run the agency if embattled administrator Scott Pruitt is forced out or resigns. Senators approved Andrew Wheeler as the agency’s deputy administrator despite complaints from Democrats that Wheeler helped lead a fight by the coal industry to block regulations that protect Americans’ health and begin to address climate change.


Panel tackles lack of high-speed internet in Indian Country

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two western senators are proposing to expand access to a $4 billion federal program that has enabled public schools and libraries throughout the U.S. to obtain high-speed internet at affordable rates as one way to close the digital divide that persists across American Indian communities and other rural areas. Librarians, policymakers and other experts gathered Thursday in Washington, D.C., for a panel discussion on the legislation and the needs of tribal communities.


Facebook to stop spending against California privacy effort

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Facebook says it will stop spending money to fight a proposed California ballot initiative aimed at increasing data privacy. The company has contributed $200,000 in February to a committee opposing the “California Consumer Privacy Act.” It made the announcement Wednesday as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg underwent questioning from Congress about the handling of user data.


Technology, industrials and banks lead rally as stocks rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Banks and technology and industrial companies help US stocks add to their gains from earlier in the week. Banks rise along with interest rates and big technology companies like Apple and Microsoft shake off some of their recent struggles. Delta Air Lines and BlackRock rise after solid quarterly reports while Bed, Bath & Beyond sinks after a weak annual forecast.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 21.80 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,663.99. The Dow Jones industrial average added 293.60 points, or 1.2 percent, to 24,483.05. The Nasdaq composite climbed 71.22 points, or 1 percent, to 7,140.25. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 10.52 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,557.33.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.4 percent to $67.07 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 0.1 percent to $72.02 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline lost 0.6 percent to $2.05 a gallon. Heating oil dipped 0.4 percent to $2.08 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.4 percent to $2.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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