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Update on the latest in business:

May 14, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Hong Kong shares jump after Trump tweets on China’s ZTE

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Monday, with Hong Kong shares surging after President Donald Trump said he wanted to help a sanctioned Chinese tech giant, signaling a possible improvement in U.S.-China relations.

In a surprise overture to Beijing, Trump tweeted that he wanted to help Chinese smartphone and telecom gear maker ZTE “get back into business, fast.”

Major U.S. benchmarks finished mostly higher on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.4 percent to 24,831.17. The S&P 500 index added 0.2 percent to 2,727.72, and had its best weekly gain since early March with an increase of 2.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite dipped less than 0.1 percent to 7,402.88.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $70.50 a barrel.

The dollar fell against the yen and the euro.

JAPAN-SONY-PEANUTS

Snoopy joining Sony? Music unit buying stake in Peanuts

TOKYO (AP) — Snoopy may be joining Sony.

Japanese electronics maker Sony Corp.’s music unit said Monday that it is buying a stake in Peanuts Holdings, the company behind Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Sony Music Entertainment signed a deal with DHX Media, based in Nova Scotia, Canada, to acquire 49 percent of the 80 percent stake DHX holds in Peanuts.

Under the deal, Sony Music will own 39 percent and DHX 41 percent. The family members of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, will continue to own 20 percent of Peanuts. The parties hope to complete the acquisition on or about June 30, according to Tokyo-based Sony.

DHX is a leading children’s content and brand company, known for Strawberry Shortcake as well as producing children’s shows, in addition to Peanuts.

Sony said it sees Peanuts as “world-class,” and hopes to use its character business expertise to strengthen the brand and push the business to grow.

Sony has a range of characters under its wings, including those from its PlayStation video games. Its film division makes the Spider-man movie series.

Snoopy and other Peanuts characters are extremely popular in Japan, featured in a variety of everyday goods from T-shirts to plastic chopsticks.

TAIWAN-HOMEBUILT WEAPONRY

Amid warnings from China, Taiwan boosts domestic arms makers

TAICHUNG, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan is seeking to build up its domestic defense industry in the face of China’s warnings and the reluctance of foreign arms suppliers to provide it with planes, ships, submarines and other hardware to defend its 23 million people.

While the U.S. — which is legally bound to respond to threats to Taiwan — is its main arms supplier, Taiwan is increasingly looking to replace those sporadic deals with domestic production that is not only reliable but occupies the leading edge of new technology. Standing on his company’s sprawling campus in central Taiwan, Lin Nan-juh says he’s able to make any plane his island’s government calls for.

It’s a bold statement with potentially major significance for Taiwan’s democratic survival.

The self-reliance policy has been strongly promoted by Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-wen, whose government has been shunned by Beijing since shortly after she took office more than two years ago. Defense is included in Tsai’s economic program targeting eight industries for innovation and job creation, with the government helping match its defense needs with the abilities of Taiwanese companies.

Beijing has been upping pressure on the island by cutting its already tenuous diplomatic links and has sent military planes and an aircraft carrier close to the island multiple times. China sees Taiwan as part of its territory.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Business and economic reports due out

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are no major business or economic reports scheduled for release today.

But tomorrow, the Commerce Department releases data on April’s retail sales and March’s business inventories.

Also on Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders issues its housing market index for May and the Treasury Department releases international money flow data for March.

XEROX-FUJIFILM

Xerox ends agreement with Japan’s Fujifilms

NEW YORK (AP) — Copier company Xerox Corp. has ended an agreement to combine with Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings and is entering a settlement deal with investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason.

The two companies had announced earlier this year that Fuji Xerox, their 56-year-old joint venture, would combine with Xerox, with Fujifilm Holdings taking a 50.1 percent stake in the newly formed company, New Fuji Xerox. The deal was meant to be part of a restructuring that, along with other reforms, would save the companies an estimated $1.7 billion a year by 2022.

But Norwalk, Connecticut-based Xerox said in a statement on Sunday that the deal was being terminated because of Fujifilm’s failure to enter into negotiations on improved terms.

Xerox said it has appointed five new board members and a new CEO.

UNITED STATES CHINA-ZTE

Trump tells Commerce Department to help Chinese company

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he’s instructed his Commerce Department to help get a Chinese telecommunications company “back into business” after the U.S. government cut off access to its American suppliers.

At issue is that department’s move last month to block the ZTE Corp. from importing American components for seven years. The U.S. accused ZTE of misleading American regulators after it settled charges of violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

ZTE said in early May it had halted its main operations as a result of the department’s move.

ZTE has appealed the suspension.

Trump says in a tweet he’s working with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help ZTE “to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

VENEZUELA-CONOCOPHILLIPS

Curacao court OKs Conoco seizing Venezuelan oil assets

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao (AP) — A court on the Dutch island of Curacao has authorized the local subsidiary of U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips to seize $636 million worth of assets held on the island by Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA.

The move comes as Houston-based Conoco seeks to recover $2 billion in a decade-old dispute over the expropriation of its Venezuelan oil projects by the OPEC nation’s socialist government, which is struggling with an economic crunch that has caused widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Curacao Economy Minister Steve Martina said at a news conference Sunday that Conoco already had taken control of some oil products at the Isla Curazao refinery, though he did specify how much.

MIT-TRUDEAU SPEECH

Canada’s Trudeau visiting MIT to address tech gathering

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (troo-DOH’) is scheduled to speak at a gathering of tech entrepreneurs at MIT.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology officials say Trudeau will visit campus Friday to headline the annual meeting of the school’s Solve initiative .

The project connects tech entrepreneurs with leaders in government, business and academia to tackle world problems.

MIT says it will be Trudeau’s first visit to Cambridge since he was elected prime minister in 2015.

Other speakers include Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google’s parent company, and Ursula Burns, the former CEO of the Xerox company.

The event requires a ticket but will be livestreamed on Solve’s website .

Trudeau’s trip to the U.S. also will include a stop at New York University, where he’s scheduled to give the commencement speech Wednesday.

FILM-BOX OFFICE

‘Avengers’ overpowers ‘Breaking In,’ ‘Life of the Party’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Avengers: Infinity War” is still ruling the box office in its third weekend in theaters.

The Walt Disney Studios on Sunday estimates it has added $61.8 million from North American theaters, bringing its total domestic earnings to $547.8 million. Globally the film has now grossed over $1.6 billion, making it the fifth biggest of all time.

The superhero blockbuster easily overpowered newcomers like the Melissa McCarthy comedy “Life of the Party” and the Gabrielle Union thriller “Breaking In.”

In a distant second, “Life of the Party” earned an estimated $18.5 million, while the modestly budgeted “Breaking In” took third place with $16.5 million.

The mom-themed films were strategically timed to launch over Mother’s Day weekend. Both drew mostly female audiences.

WRONGFUL TERMINATION-CHIPOTLE

Ex-Chipotle manager gets $8 million for wrongful termination

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A California jury has awarded nearly $8 million dollars to the former manager of a Chipotle Mexican Grill for wrongful termination.

Jeanette Ortiz was accused in 2015 of stealing $626 in cash from a safe at the restaurant in Fresno. Her bosses claimed the theft was recorded on surveillance video, but when Ortiz asked to see the evidence she was told it had been destroyed.

Ortiz filed a wrongful termination suit. The Fresno Bee reports that last week jurors ordered Chipotle to pay her $7.97 million in damages.

The panel ruled Ortiz was a victim of a scheme to defame her for filing a worker’s compensation claim for a job-related injury to her wrist.

An email seeking comment from Chipotle was not immediately returned Sunday.

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