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Update on the latest in business:

October 11, 2018


Losses on Wall Street rip through Asian financial markets

SINGAPORE (AP) — A stock market rout that started on Wall Street rolled through Asia on Thursday, driving China’s benchmark to a four-year low and sending indexes in Japan, Korea and Australia plunging.

Japan’s benchmark fell by an unusually wide margin of 3.9 percent and China’s main index lost 5.6 percent. Markets across Southeast Asia recorded similar declines.

Investors are wary of possible further U.S. interest rate hikes. That will raise the cost of corporate borrowing and could drag on economic growth.

Today in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gave up 3.9 percent and the Shanghai Composite lost 5.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 3.8 percent. The Kospi in South Korea fell 4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 2.7 percent. Stocks plunged in Taiwan and fell across Southeast Asia.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 index sank 3.3 percent to 2,785.68. The Nasdaq composite, which has a large contingent of technology stocks, was 4.1 percent lower at 7,422.05. It has fallen 7.5 percent in just five days. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 2.9 percent, to 1,575.41.


Rising interest rates weigh on high-flying tech stocks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Technology and internet stocks have led the way for much of Wall Street’s bull market run, propelling the stocks of big names like Apple, Amazon and Google’s parent company sharply higher along the way.

Now those high-flying stocks are at the forefront of a wave of selling as investors fret about the possible impact of a recent surge in interest rates.

Those jitters gave the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index its biggest loss in more than two years Wednesday.

Technology and internet-based companies are known for their high profit margins, and many have reported explosive growth in recent years, with corresponding gains in their stock prices. That’s made them particularly vulnerable to rise in interest rates, because it makes the stocks’ already high valuations look even more stretched.


White House downplays market plunge

NEW YORK (AP) — The White House says there is no reason for concern after U.S. stocks suffered their worst loss in eight months Wednesday.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders says, “The fundamentals and future of the U.S. economy remain incredibly strong.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 831 points Wednesday and the Nasdaq composite had its biggest loss in more than two years.

Sanders highlighted strong economic indicators, including low unemployment and rising wages, saying President Donald Trump’s policies “have created a solid base for continued growth.”

Meanwhile, Trump, who has been critical of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases, told reporters after landing in Erie, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, that he thinks “the Fed is making a mistake.”

He adds, “I think the Fed has gone crazy.”

But he’s also calling the drop -- quote --“a correction we’ve been waiting for for a long time.”


Major business and economic reports due out today.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index for September today.

Also, Freddie Mac reports this week’s average mortgage rates.


IMF head to US, China: fix not break trade rules

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde says the U.S. and China should de-escalate their trade dispute and work to fix trade rules instead of breaking them.

Lagarde told reporters Thursday at the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank in Bali, Indonesia, that so far there had been no “contagion” of major damage from penalty tariffs imposed by the two countries on each other’s exports, but that they do risk hurting “innocent bystanders.”

Lagarde said her advice was in three parts: “De-escalate. Fix the system. Don’t break it.”

She said the rules-making World Trade Organization had ways of addressing U.S. complaints that China’s policies unfairly extract advanced technologies and put foreign companies at a disadvantage.

Earlier, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says the trade tensions could undo global progress in helping end extreme poverty.

He said that without free trade, there would be no hope of helping millions of people escape dire poverty.


Postal Service proposes 5 cent increase to first-class stamp

The U.S. Postal Service is seeking to increase the price of its first-class stamp by 5 cents to 55 cents to help stem its mounting red ink.

If approved by regulators, the 10 percent increase to the cost of mailing a 1-ounce letter would be the biggest since 1991. The price of each additional ounce would go down, from 21 cents to 15 cents.

The proposed increase would take effect in January. It comes as President Donald Trump has criticized the Postal Service for “losing a fortune” by not charging higher shipping rates for online retailers such as Amazon.com.

The Postal Service has seen years of financial losses as an unrelenting drop in mail volume and costs of its health care and pension obligations outweighed strong gains in package deliveries.


Judge says she’ll order new Monsanto trial

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A judge is still deciding on whether to uphold a jury’s $289 million judgment against agribusiness giant Monsanto.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos ended a two-hour hearing on Wednesday without making a formal ruling. Earlier in the day, she issued a tentative ruling saying she intended to toss out the jury’s $250 million punitive damage award and schedule a new trial on that issue. The judge also suggested she may reduce the rest of the award by $31 million if she upholds the jury’s decision that Monsanto’s weed-killer caused DeWayne Johnson’s cancer.

The judge ordered lawyers to submit written legal arguments by Friday and will formally rule later.

A jury in August awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.


MLB tells casinos league should get cut from wagers on sport

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Major League Baseball is insisting to casino executives that the league should get a cut from wagers placed on the sport following the repeal of a federal ban on sports betting.

An MLB executive speaking Wednesday at the casino industry’s top trade show in Las Vegas also held that sports books should be required to buy data used to set odds directly from the league.

Kenny Gersh is the league’s executive vice president of gaming. He says a proposed 0.25 percent fee is essentially a royalty that casino companies should pay if they are going to make money off of the sport.

He says MLB believes betting on baseball is not appealing to mass consumers, just hardcore bettors, and the league could help change that.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in May allowed states to join Nevada in having legalized sports betting.

Casinos have strongly opposed direct payments to leagues for betting, and MLB and other pro leagues have failed so far to convince any state to build the fees into their laws.


FAA orders engine software upgrade after aborted takeoffs

UNDATED (AP) — Safety regulators are ordering that engine software be replaced on some Airbus passenger jets because of a problem that has caused pilots to abort several takeoffs in cold weather.

The order covers 82 engines on planes registered in the United States. The engines were built by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric, and France’s Safran, for Airbus A320neo and A321neo jets.

The Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency said this week operators will have until late January to replace electronic-control software.

The regulators say water can accumulate and freeze in pressure-sensor lines, preventing the fan blades from reaching takeoff speed.

The FAA says the problem caused six aborted takeoffs. It says CFM has improved the software to better detect freezing in sensor lines.


Dubai airport begins using biometric tech at security

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Passport control looks a little different in Dubai International Airport — the world’s busiest for international travel.

That’s because the airport debuted a new “smart tunnel” that uses biometric technology, instead of human checks, to allow some air travelers to complete passport control in just 15 seconds.

Passengers register at a kiosk before going through smart gates which use iris recognition to let them through.

Maj. Gen, Mohammed Ahmed al-Marri, director-general at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs, called it the “latest and most unique technology” and says the project has been in development for four years.

For now, it’s just business- and first-class passengers who can use the facilities.

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