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Update on the latest in business:

March 30, 2018


Asian shares track tech, consumer stocks’ rally on Wall St

UNDATED (AP) — Shares rose in Asia on Friday after technology and consumer-focused stocks led a rally on Wall Street, marking a dramatic end to the market’s most volatile quarter in more than two years. Many regional markets were closed for Good Friday.

Banks and industrial stocks also lifted the market and recent laggards such as Facebook and Boeing rose. Even so, the solid gains didn’t prevent the stock market’s first quarterly loss since the third quarter of 2015. The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent to 2,640.87. The Dow gained 1.1 percent to 24,103.11 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks also picked up 1.1 percent, to 1,529.43. The Nasdaq added 1.6 percent to 7,063.44, closing the quarter with a gain of 2.3 percent. U.S. stock markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Thursday’s run-up in technology stocks signaled that investors believe the sector was oversold in recent weeks, said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Volatility has ramped up, inflationary pressures are more prevalent, interest rates are on the cusp of change, so that presents a higher level of uncertainty and higher investor angst,” he said.

Energy Trading stopped for the long Easter weekend. On Thursday, benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $65 a barrel.

The dollar fell against the yen and the euro on Thursday.


Huawei reports strong sales push 2017 profit up 28.1 percent

BEIJING (AP) — Huawei Technology Ltd., the Chinese maker of smartphones and telecom equipment, said Friday its profit rose 28.1 percent in 2017, boosted by strong enterprise and consumer sales.

Huawei said it earned 47.5 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) for the year, a marked improvement over the previous year, when profit rose just 0.4 percent due to higher spending on research and marketing.

Total revenue rose 15.7 percent over 2016 to 603.6 billion yuan ($96.2 billion).

The company headquartered in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen is the No. 3 global seller of smartphones behind Samsung Electronics Ltd. and Apple Inc. It competes with Sweden’s LM Ericsson for the status of biggest maker of network equipment used by phone and internet companies.

Huawei, founded in 1987, is owned by its employees, with no publicly traded shares, but reports financial results in an effort to allay security concerns in the United States, Europe and Australia.

The company had planned to announce its first distribution agreement with a U.S. carrier in January but that was canceled without explanation. News reports said the carrier was AT&T Inc. and the company backed out due to pressure from U.S. authorities.

Huawei and Honor smartphone brands shipped 153 million handsets last year for total sales of 237.2 billion yuan ($37.8 billion), a 39.1 percent increase, the company said. Sales of cloud, data center and other enterprise products and services rose 35.1 percent to 54.9 billion yuan ($8.7 billion).

Revenue for Huawei’s carrier business rose a more modest 2.5 percent to 297.8 billion yuan ($47.5 billion).

Research and development spending increased 17.5 percent over 2016 to 89.7 billion yuan ($14.3 billion). Huawei reports the highest R&D spending of any Chinese company.


California Judge: Coffee needs cancer warnings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California law requires coffee companies to carry an ominous cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process.

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle wrote in a proposed ruling Wednesday that Starbucks and other coffee companies failed to show that the threat from a chemical compound produced in the roasting process was insignificant.

A nonprofit group had sued coffee roasters, distributors and retailers under a state law that requires warnings on a wide range of chemicals that can cause cancer.

The coffee industry had claimed the chemical, acrylamide, was present at harmless levels and should be exempt from the law because it results naturally from the cooking process necessary to make the beans flavorful.

The judge can reverse his tentative ruling, but that rarely happens.


Tesla recalls 123K Model S sedans for power steering problem

DETROIT (AP) — Electric car maker Tesla is recalling 123,000 sedans worldwide to fix a problem with the power-assisted steering.

The recall covers all Model S sedans built before April of 2016. Three bolts holding the power steering motor in place can corrode and either come loose or break, possibly causing a loss of power steering. Manual steering would still work.

Tesla says the problem happens infrequently in places where salt is used to clear snow and ice from roads. It’s recalling all the cars even in warm-weather states just in case. No crashes or injuries have been reported.

Service centers will replace the bolts with ones that are more corrosion-resistant. Owners will be notified Thursday by email. Tesla says replacement parts will be available first in cold-weather areas, then in warmer climates.


Trump says he may ‘hold up’ South Korea deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is threatening to “hold up” the trade agreement his administration finalized this week with South Korea to gain more leverage for talks with North Korea.

Trump highlighted the newly completed renegotiation of the trade agreement during a speech in Ohio Thursday about roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Ohio.

But he added that the trade deal “it’s a very strong card and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly.”

Trump’s remark comes as the two Koreas have announced plans to hold bilateral meetings next month in advance of a possible meeting between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un by the end of May.


Trump say delay likely on infrastructure initiative

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says his $200 billion federal infrastructure initiative is “probably” going to be delayed until after the November midterm elections.

Trump predicts the plan will unleash $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment. But he says: “You’re probably going to have to wait until after the election.”

It’s a concession by the president to the political realities in Washington. Lawmakers are increasingly focused on their re-elections this fall in what is set to be a difficult campaign cycle for Republicans.

Trump is claiming Democrats don’t want to work with him on infrastructure because they don’t want to give him any additional “wins” after his tax bill passed in December.


Advocacy group: Exxon knew of corruption in oil deal

DALLAS (AP) — An anti-corruption group says Exxon Mobil bought rights to drill in an area off the coast of West Africa despite its concerns about possible corruption.

Global Witness said Thursday that Exxon knew that the oil field, called Block 13, had been previously awarded to another company through bribery.

The group says Exxon paid $120 million in 2013 for rights to explore for oil in the block by using a Canadian company as a middleman.

Exxon says all payments went to verified Liberian government accounts and it is confident that the agreement complies with Liberian and international anti-corruption laws.

Global Witness says the sale was accompanied by more than $200,000 in unusual payments from Liberia’s oil agency to six government officials who approved the deal.


Judge dismisses Exxon lawsuit against climate change probe

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Exxon Mobil aimed at stopping an investigation by New York and Massachusetts officials into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change and how the issue could affect its business.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in New York said Thursday that Exxon’s lawsuit was “running roughshod over the adage that the best defense is a good offense.”

Exxon says it’s reviewing the decision.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon sued New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts counterpart Maura Healey in 2016 after they subpoenaed documents about Exxon research into the role of fossil fuels in climate change.

Exxon accuses the officials of trying to take away the company’s free-speech rights on an important issue.


Under Armour: MyFitnessPal data breach affects 150M users

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore-based Under Armour says around 150 million users of its MyFitnessPal fitness and nutrition app and website have been affected by a data security breach.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the company announced Thursday that the MyFitnessPal team became aware March 25 that an unauthorized party had acquired data associated with user accounts in February.

Under Armour says the investigation indicates that the affected information includes usernames, email addresses and hashed passwords, but not payment card data or government-issued identifiers.

In addition to releasing a statement, the brand began notifying MyFitnessPal users through email and app notifications on Thursday.

The company is encouraging users to change their passwords, and is working with data security firms and law enforcement to investigate.


Kansas water park indictments highlight patchwork of rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A second-degree murder charge against the co-designer of a giant Kansas waterslide in the decapitation death of a 10-year-old boy highlight the patchwork of inconsistent rules for amusement parks across the country.

As parks prepare to open for the summer season in many states, at least seven don’t require annual inspections of rides.

The giant Verruckt waterslide was a big attraction for the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, until Caleb Schwab’s decapitation in August 2016 forced the ride to shut down.

Federal officials know of 12 deaths at water parks since 2010.

Verruckt was the world’s tallest waterslide and was built under nearly non-existent Kansas rules. The boy’s death spurred lawmakers to pass a law but a safety expert says the state still is lax compared with many others.


Wynn officials weigh renaming Boston-area casino

BOSTON (AP) — Wynn Resorts is “absolutely” considering renaming its planned Boston-area casino as founder Steve Wynn faces allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Boston Herald reports Wynn Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio said Thursday a rebranding of the $2.4 billion project in Everett, Massachusetts, is “under active consideration.” He says an announcement will come later.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey and other state leaders have said a name change should be considered , but company officials had previously pushed back on the notion.

DeSalvio made the comments after casino officials gave their first public update on the project since the misconduct allegations surfaced in January.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Executive Director Edward Bedrosian also says commission investigators should complete their inquiry into the allegations by the summer.

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