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Update on the latest in business:

December 18, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks regain some of their steep losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving higher as the market regains some of the steep losses it suffered over the previous two days. The Dow industrials have been about 300 points higher in afternoon trading.

Technology companies helped drive stocks higher today. Facebook added 3 percent.

The price of oil continued to slide, a day after closing below $50 a barrel for the first time in over a year.

Boeing, which has taken sharp losses recently, rose 3.9 percent after announcing a stock buyback and a dividend increase.

HOME CONSTRUCTION

US home construction rose last month, led by apartments

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. developers broke ground on more homes last month, but the increase occurred entirely in apartments. The construction of new single-family houses fell.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that housing starts rose 3.2 percent in November from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 1.26 million. That is 3.6 percent below a year ago. Single-family starts dropped 4.6 percent in November and are down 13.1 percent from a year earlier.

Some of the data have been distorted by extreme weather. Home-building jumped 15.1 percent last month in the South in the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. And home construction fell 14.2 percent in the West, possibly because of wildfires in California.

Still, rising mortgage rates have dragged down home sales in the past year, discouraging many builders.

TRUMP FOUNDATION-INVESTIGATION

Trump Foundation reaches deal to dissolve amid lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has reached a deal to dissolve amid a legal battle with New York’s attorney general.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood and the foundation filed a joint stipulation with the court Tuesday laying out a process for shutting down the charity and distributing remaining assets to other nonprofit groups.

New York filed a lawsuit last spring accusing the foundation of operating like an extension of Trump’s businesses and political campaign. That suit will continue.

Lawyers for the foundation say any infractions were minor. They say they have been trying to shut down the foundation voluntarily for months.

A judge must still sign off on the agreement.

Underwood is a Democrat and is seeking millions of dollars in penalties. She wants Trump and his eldest children barred from running other charities.

TRUMP FOUNDATION-REACTION

Foundation lawyer responds to deal

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for President Donald Trump’s foundation says the New York Attorney General’s Office is giving a misleading account of an agreement to dissolve the charity.

Alan Futerfas says it’s a “further attempt to politicize this matter.”

Futerfas says an agreement announced Tuesday came after the attorney general’s office spent two years blocking the Trump Foundation from voluntarily going out of business.

He says the foundation had been seeking to dissolve and distribute $1.7 million in remaining assets to other charities since Trump’s presidential election victory in 2016.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleged in a lawsuit last spring that Trump operated the foundation as an extension of his businesses and political campaign.

Tuesday’s agreement gives the attorney general’s office oversight it had been seeking over the distribution of foundation funds.

BREXIT

Britain prepares for no-deal Brexit

LONDON (AP) — The British government has decided to ramp up preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit, saying it must be ready for the possibility of that default option.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay says that while the government remains committed to Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, it needs to be ready in the event it does not come to pass.

Following a Cabinet meeting, Barclay said preparations for a disorderly Brexit need to be “much more of a priority for businesses up and down the country.”

He says with just over 100 days until the March 29 official Brexit date, “a responsible government is preparing for the eventuality that we leave without a deal.”

MEXICO-MINIMUM WAGE

Mexico doubles minimum wage in northern border zones

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s new government is increasing minimum wages across the country by 16 percent and doubling the minimum wage in a narrow stretch of territory along the border with the United States.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says the minimum wage had lost 70 percent of its purchasing power over the last three decades following devaluations and economic crises.

The minimum is currently equivalent to $4.40 per day, and will rise to $5.10 in January.

But in the townships on the northern border, the wage will rise to $8.80.

Lopez Obrador said Tuesday employers will be able to pay the higher wages because the value-added tax will be cut in half in the border zone.

The value-added tax will remain at 16 percent in the rest of the country.

ELON MUSK-TUNNEL

Elon Musk to unveil underground tunnel, transport cars

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is set to unveil an underground transportation tunnel that could move people faster than subways.

Musk plans to unveil the test tunnel Tuesday, as well as the autonomous cars that will carry people through it. He’s also set to show off elevators he says will bring users’ own cars from the surface to the tunnel.

Tuesday’s reveal comes almost two years to the day since Musk announced on Twitter that “traffic is driving me nuts” and he was “going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging.”

Since then, he’s revealed a handful of photos and videos of the tunnel’s progress. The tunnel, meant to be a “proof of concept,” runs about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) under Hawthorne, California, Musk’s SpaceX headquarters.

NURO-KROGER

Nuro, Kroger to bring unmanned delivery to customers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Nuro and grocery chain Kroger are teaming up to bring unmanned delivery service to customers.

The companies said Tuesday that Nuro’s unmanned vehicle, the R1, will be added to a fleet of autonomous Prius vehicles that have run self-driving grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona with vehicle operators since August.

The R1 can travel on public roads and has no driver or passengers. It only transports goods.

Delivery service via the R1 or Prius vehicles is available for a single Fry’s Food Stores in Scottsdale. Customers will pay a flat fee of $5.95, with no minimum order requirement. Shoppers can place their orders immediately and request same-day or next-day delivery. Delivery service is available seven days a week.

SURGEON GENERAL-TEEN VAPING

US surgeon general warns of teen risks from e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. surgeon general says swift action is needed to prevent millions of teenagers and adolescents from becoming hooked on Juul and other high-nicotine electronic cigarettes.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday that parents, teachers and physicians must take aggressive steps to address an epidemic of underage vaping.

The nation’s top doctor is joining a government-wide effort to reverse the trend, driven by devices like Juul. The company’s small, discrete devices have quickly dominated the U.S. vaping market.

Last month, Juul shut down its social media accounts and halted in-store sales of its flavored pods to deter use by kids.

The surgeon general says adults should learn about e-cigarettes and talk to children about their risks.

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