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Update on the latest in business:

January 23, 2018


Asian shares rise on global growth hopes, US shutdown’s end

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stock markets posted strong gains today, as an upbeat forecast for global economic growth and the end of the U.S. government shutdown helped lift sentiment.

The International Monetary Fund upgraded its outlook for the world economy, estimating that the world economy expanded 3.7 percent last year, the fastest pace since 2011. It forecast that the pace will accelerate to 3.9 percent in 2018-19. The IMF noted surprisingly strong growth in Europe and Asia and predicted that U.S. tax cuts will give the American economy a short-term boost.

President Donald Trump signed a bill ending the U.S. federal government shutdown after nearly three days. Democrats agreed to a stopgap funding measure.

Policymakers did not make any changes to the Japanese central bank’s unprecedented monetary stimulus even though growth in Asia’s second-biggest economy ticked higher.

Trump approved tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines, in a move aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers.

Major U.S. benchmarks had a strong finish. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 0.8 percent to close at 2,832.97. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.6 percent to 26,214.60. The Nasdaq composite added 1 percent to 7,408.03.

The dollar slipped against the yen and strengthened against the euro.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just below $64 a barrel.


Deal that broke Senate impasse: Kids’ health but no DACA

WASHINGTON (AP) — A deal was hastily assembled and approved Monday to break through the Senate stalemate over immigration and border security that shut down the government for three days.

The agreement, brought forth by a bipartisan group of senators and embraced by their parties’ leaders, is a bare-bones accord that provides temporary funding to keep the government operating for just under three weeks. Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a stopgap spending measure. In return, Senate Republican leaders promised to soon take up immigration and other prickly issues.

The measure provides short-term funding for the government through Feb. 8. It also contains the long-delayed, six-year renewal of the popular CHIP program, health insurance program for children in low-income families.


Trump applies tariffs to solar panels, washing machines

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday approved tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines in a bid to help U.S. manufacturers.

The Republican’s decision followed recommendations for tariffs by the U.S. International Trade Commission. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that the president’s action is a defense of “American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”

Most imported solar modules will face an immediate tariff of 30 percent, with the rate declining before phasing out after four years. For large residential washing machines, tariffs will start at up to 50 percent and phase out after three years. Nearly 30 U.S. solar-manufacturing facilities had closed in the past five years, they said, as China plotted to flood the global market with cheap products to weaken U.S. manufacturing.

Mexico says it regrets the decision to exclude it.


China criticizes Trump tariffs on solar, washing machines

BEIJING (AP) — China has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to approve higher import duties on solar power components and washing machines as an abuse of trade remedies.

The Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that Washington was wrong to take unilateral action and said the move could threaten the international trading system.

Trump acted on a recommendation by the U.S. International Trade Commission to limit the impact on American manufacturers of a flood of lower-cost imports.

A Commerce Ministry statement said Washington “abused its trade remedy measures.” It said, “China expresses its strong dissatisfaction with this.”


UK regulator: Fox takeover of Sky not in public interest

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s competition regulator has found that 21st Century Fox’s planned takeover of Sky plc is not in the public interest because it would give Rupert Murdoch and his family too much control of the country’s news media.

The preliminary ruling issued Tuesday by the Competition and Markets authority will be finalized by May 1, when the authority will send its report to the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who will make a final decision on the deal.

Anne Lambert, the chair of the authority’s investigation, says the deal “will result in the Murdoch family having too much control over news providers in the UK and too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.”


South Korea to start real-name trading of crypto currency

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean says local banks will launch a real-name system for crypto currency trading, requiring transactions to be traceable. Financial Services Commission Vice Chair Kim Yong-beom said Tuesday that the new measures that take effect next week will prevent foreigners and minors under age 19 from buying or selling bitcoins and other digital currencies. The move is aimed at preventing use of crypto currency trading to engage in money laundering, tax evasion and other criminal activities.

The new rules call for banks to refuse to open accounts with crypto currency exchanges that do not disclose information about suspicious trading.

South Korea is home to some of the world’s largest crypto currency exchanges and a craze for bitcoin and other crypto currencies has swept the country.


Puerto Rico to privatize island’s troubled power company

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor says he is privatizing the island’s government-owned power company following decades of mismanagement, corruption and blackouts.

Monday’s surprise announcement comes as nearly 30 percent of power customers remain in the dark more than four months after Hurricane Maria.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello says the move will help attract more business to the island and notes that Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority is operating with infrastructure that is nearly 30 years older than the industry average.


Trump’s trip to Davos meeting appears to be on

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — President Donald Trump’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, appears to be on.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that if “all things go as expected” with reopening the government, the delegation will travel Tuesday and the president will go later in the week.

A delegation of Cabinet members was scheduled to leave Monday, but it was delayed amid the federal government shutdown. Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill later in the day.

The forum is meant to be a place for the world’s decision-makers to put their power to good use. The theme this year is “Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World.” Trump plans to bring his “America First” message to the gathering of global political and business elites. The event is rarely attended by sitting presidents.


Company scraps plan for Indiana immigrant detention center

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A private prison management company has withdrawn its application to build a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in northern Indiana following fierce local opposition.

Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic had proposed locating a $100 million, 1,200-bed center about 10 miles east of South Bend, but it faced opposition from nearby communities.

Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder says CoreCivic officials informed the three county commissioners Monday that they would withdraw the petition to rezone farmland for the center. Yoder said the company didn’t give a reason why. CoreCivic was previously known as Corrections Corp. of America.

Opponents included elected officials, business leaders, a coalition of civic groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.


Ex-Fiat Chrysler exec pleads guilty in union payoff scheme

DETROIT (AP) — A former Fiat Chrysler executive pleaded guilty Monday to showering more than $1.5 million in cash and gifts on high-ranking members of the United Auto Workers, admitting he turned the budget of a company-sponsored training center into a slush fund to curry favor with union officials.

Al Iacobelli said a key beneficiary was General Holiefield, a UAW vice president who was responsible for negotiating with Fiat Chrysler on behalf of the union. A $262,000 mortgage on his suburban Detroit home was paid off in 2014 with a check from the training center.

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