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Update on the latest in business:

May 17, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks mixed as investors digest US, Japan data

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks are mixed today after strong factory data from the U.S. helped spur gains overnight on Wall Street.

Investors shrugged off today’s report of weak machinery orders in Japan, a day after growth data came in lower than expected, with the Nikkei 225 index jumping 0.7 percent by midday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was almost unchanged and the Kospi in South Korea was flat. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 dipped 0.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2 percent. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,722. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 percent to 24,769. And the Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent to 7,398. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished 1 percent higher at 1,616.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON — Freddie Mac releases its report on this week’s average mortgage rates today.

Also, J.C. Penney and Walmart report quarterly financial results before the market opens.

UNITED STATES-CHINA

US, Chinese officials try to head off trade war

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead talks today and Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He aimed at heading off a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and trade advisers Peter Navarro and Everett Eissenstat will also participate.

The Trump administration has proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products to punish Beijing for forcing American companies to turn over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market. China has counterpunched by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products.

Neither country has imposed the tariffs. Liu’s visit to Washington is meant to defuse the conflict.

CHINA-US-TRADE

China vows to fight for its own interests in US trade talks

HONG KONG (AP) — China says it doesn’t want to see increased trade tensions with the U.S. as the two countries hold talks in Washington this week, but it’s prepared for any outcome and will fight for its own interests.

The comments by a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman today came after President Donald Trump tweeted that there has been “no folding” in the discussions.

Spokesman Gao Feng also told reporters that China hopes the U.S. will help resolve a case involving Chinese tech company ZTE, which has been hit with a crippling ban on buying from U.S. suppliers.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are leading talks in Washington today and Friday aimed at heading off a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

FORD-PICKUP PRODUCTION

Ford to resume F-150 production after supply plant fire

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is resuming production of its F-150 pickup following a fire at a plant where parts for the vehicle are made.

The automaker says work will restart Friday at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan. Production of Ford’s Super Duty at its Louisville, Kentucky, truck plant and the F-150 at its Kansas City, Missouri, assembly plant are targeted to resume by Monday.

A May 2 fire severely damaged the main plant at the Meridian Magnesium Products of America factory in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, near Lansing. The plant makes structural parts with about one-third going to Ford.

Dearborn-based Ford put together a team that refurbished and relocated tooling needed to make parts for the vehicles. The Eaton Rapids plant is producing truck parts again.

CONGRESS-NET NEUTRALITY

Senate backs effort to restore ‘net neutrality’ rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable.

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate “net neutrality” rules as “political theater” because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate’s margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred.

At issue are rules that the Federal Communications Commission repealed in December that prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps. Critics, including the Trump administration, said overregulation was stifling innovation, and they backed the FCC’s move, which is still set to take effect next month.

DROPBOX SETTLEMENT

Dropbox settles over auto-renew complaint in California

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Online file sharing company Dropbox will pay $1.6 million in civil penalties and $450,000 in restitution as part of a settlement with prosecutors in California over its subscription renewal policies.

District attorneys in four counties sued, alleging the firm failed to properly notify customers using its paid Dropbox Pro service about its automatic renewal policy in violation of state law.

Dropbox agreed to the settlement without admitting liability. The settlement was announced Wednesday by officials in Alameda County, where the civil action was filed.

In addition, prosecutors alleged the company didn’t sufficiently advise consumers that its Dropbox for Business service was intended only for organizations or businesses — not individual consumers using it for personal, family or household reasons.

Dropbox says it’s pleased to have resolved the matter.

CYBERATTACK FIGHTER-DETAINED

Cyber expert’s attorney say FBI deceived him

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Lawyers for a British cybersecurity expert credited with stopping the worldwide WannaCry computer virus say federal agents used deception when they interrogated him about criminal charges he faces for allegedly creating malware.

Attorneys for Marcus Hutchins made the argument Wednesday in Milwaukee federal court to try to convince a judge to suppress statements Hutchins made after his arrest last year. Prosecutors allege Hutchins created and distributed malware known as Kronos that was designed to steal banking passwords.

Hutchins has pleaded not guilty.

One of Hutchins’ attorneys, Brian Klein, says FBI agents who interrogated Hutchins when they detained him in Las Vegas didn’t tell him what he was accused of until an hour into their interview. But prosecutors say Hutchins understood what was happening and spoke voluntarily to the agents.

A ruling on the motion to suppress is expected in a couple of weeks.

CANNED TUNA-PRICE FIXING

Bumble Bee CEO indicted on charge he fixed canned tuna price

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — U.S. prosecutors have filed a criminal charge in San Francisco against the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods as part of an investigation into price fixing in the packaged seafood industry.

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a grand jury indicted Christopher Lischewski on one count of price fixing. Prosecutors say Lischewski from November 2010 to December 2013 conspired with others in the industry to eliminate competition by setting prices for canned tuna.

Three other people have previously been indicted as part of the investigation.

Lischewski’s attorney, John Keker, said his client has lived a hardworking and ethical life is innocent.

Bumble Bee Foods itself last year agreed to pay a $25 million fine after pleading guilty to price fixing.

LETTUCE OUTBREAK

Romaine lettuce outbreak update: 172 sick in 32 states

PHOENIX (AP) — Health officials say nearly two dozen more cases of a food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Arizona have been reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the total number of people sickened by a strain of E. coli is now 172 across 32 states.

At least 75 people have been hospitalized, including 20 with kidney failure. One death was in California.

Health officials say there is a lag time of two to three weeks between when someone falls ill and when it’s reported to the CDC.

The agency says the romaine was grown in Yuma, Arizona and was last harvested April 16. So, it should no longer be in stores and restaurants because of its three-week shelf life.

FDA-OPIOID WITHDRAWAL DRUG

FDA approves 1st non-opioid drug to ease withdrawal symptoms

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Federal regulators have approved the first non-opioid treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms from quitting addictive opioids.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expedited approval of Lucemyra (luc-eh-MEER’-eh) to help combat the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The tablet was approved Wednesday to treat adults for up to two weeks for common withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and agitation. It is not an addiction treatment but can be part of a longer-term plan.

People going through detox are usually given opioid medicine like methadone, which eases the cravings without an intense high. Fear of withdrawal discourages some people from quitting.

The FDA is requiring drugmaker US WorldMeds of Louisville, Kentucky, to conduct safety studies in teens and newborns of opioid-addicted mothers and for possible longer-term use in people tapering off opioids.

FILM-BOX OFFICE-RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary ‘RBG’ has box office muscle

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG” is turning into a mini box office phenomenon. The film cracked the top 10 this weekend with $1.2 million from only 180 screens nationwide.

In just over two weeks of limited release it’s made over $2.2 million.

Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock says documentaries don’t often enter the top 10 if they’re not politically charged or about cuddly animals, noting that “RBG” is neither. He says that for a documentary, “RBG” is essentially doing blockbuster business.

The film from directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West gives an intimate peek at the life of the famed Supreme Court associate justice from her childhood to her present day pop culture icon status and even her impressive workout routine.

“RBG” expands to 330 screens on Friday.

MIAMI MEGAMALL

Vote set for Miami megamall that would be largest in US

MIAMI (AP) — A crucial vote is set for a gigantic $4 billion retail and entertainment complex near Miami and close to the Everglades that would become the largest mall in North America once completed.

The Miami-Dade County Commission scheduled a final vote today for American Dream Miami. More than a mall, its developers say it would include theme-park attractions such as an indoor ski slope, submarine ride, water park, skating rink, retail shops and restaurants and 2,000 hotel rooms.

Although it’s close to the environmentally sensitive Everglades, most concerns have centered on traffic. Canadian developer Triple Five estimates it would draw some 30 million visitors a year. Neighboring Broward County has threatened to sue if developers don’t take steps to ease traffic gridlock.

Developers say the project will create 14,000 permanent jobs.

HOMELESS-BURGER KING-LAWSUIT

Suit: Homeless man jailed after trying to eat at Burger King

BOSTON (AP) — A homeless Boston man who was wrongfully accused of trying to use counterfeit cash at Burger King and spent three months in jail is suing the fast food giant.

Emory Ellis says in a nearly $1 million lawsuit filed this week that he was discriminated against because he’s black and homeless.

Ellis was arrested in 2015 after he tried to buy breakfast using a $10 bill that the cashier thought was counterfeit.

The lawsuit says Ellis’ arrest resulted in a probation violation that landed him in jail for three months before prosecutors dropped the charge when authorities determined the bill was real.

Burger King Corp. says it can’t comment on the case and that the franchisee is responsible for handling all legal matters about the location.

The franchisee didn’t immediately return a message.

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