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Update on the latest in business:

November 26, 2018


Asian stocks rise on hopes US, China will unwind dispute

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Monday on hopes that U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will unwind a blistering trade dispute at a meeting this week.

Energy companies led a slide in U.S. stocks on Friday, as a plunge in oil prices weighed on sentiment. Trading volume was lighter than usual as markets were only open for a half day after the Thanksgiving break. The S&P 500 index fell 0.7 percent to 2,632.56, racking up its second correction of the year. It is now down 10.2 percent from its last all-time high set on Sept. 20. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.5 percent to 6,938.98 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.7 percent to 24,285.95. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was less than 0.1 percent higher at 1,488.68.

Presidents Trump and Xi will meet at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of the week. A trade dispute over Beijing’s technology policy, which has caused them to impose tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods, is likely at the top of the agenda. Investors are watching to see if the leaders can arrive at an agreement to ease tensions that have been weighing on corporate earnings and the global economy.

The European Union and Britain have finally sealed an agreement governing the latter’s departure from the bloc on March 29. This comes after months of hesitation, stop-and-start negotiations and resignations. British Prime Minister Theresa May must now get her divided Parliament to back the deal, which leaves Britain subject to rules and obligations of the bloc at least until the end of 2020 and possibly longer. She is facing intense opposition from pro-Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers alike.

A private survey released on Monday showed Japanese manufacturing slowing in November.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $50.50.

The dollar strengthened against the yen and the euro.


Justices to hear antitrust case over sale of iPhone apps

WASHINGTON (AP) — Apple is at the Supreme Court to defend the way it sells apps for iPhones against claims by consumers that the company has unfairly monopolized the market.

The justices are hearing arguments Monday in Apple’s effort to end an antitrust lawsuit that could force the iPhone maker to cut the 30 percent commission it charges software developers whose apps are sold exclusively through Apple’s App Store. A judge could triple the compensation to consumers under antitrust law if Apple ultimately loses the lawsuit.

Apple says it doesn’t own the apps or sell them. That’s the responsibility of software developers.

But the lawsuit says the Cupertino, California-based company exerts a lot of control over the process, including a requirement that prices end in .99. And iPhone apps are only available through the App Store.

The issue for the Supreme Court is whether Apple can even be sued about the apps, given prior high court rulings in antitrust cases. In other cases, the justices have said there must be a direct relationship between the seller and a party complaining about unfair, anticompetitive pricing.

A victory for Apple could severely restrict consumers’ ability to sue over antitrust violations even though Congress envisioned such lawsuits “would form a central component of enforcement of the antitrust laws,” warned 18 scholars of antitrust law in a Supreme Court filing.


Taxes may be a bigger part of online shopping this season

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shoppers heading online on Cyber Monday to purchase holiday gifts will find they’re being charged sales tax at some websites where they weren’t before. The reason: the Supreme Court.

A June ruling gave states the go-ahead to require more companies to collect sales tax on online purchases. Now, more than two dozen have moved to take advantage of the ruling, many ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents more than 70 major retailers, says that whether shoppers get charged sales tax on their online purchases comes down to where they live and where they’re shopping.

Before the Supreme Court’s recent decision , the rule was that businesses selling online had to collect sales tax only in states where they had stores, warehouses or another physical presence. That meant that major retailers such as Apple, Best Buy, Macy’s and Target, which have brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, were generally collecting sales tax from online customers. But that wasn’t the case for businesses with a big online presence but few physical locations.

Now, states can force out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax if they’re doing a fair amount of business in the state.


Business and economic reports scheduled for release today.

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are no major economic or government reports due out today.

However, tomorrow, Standard & Poor’s releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for September,

Also, the Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for November.


Black Friday and Cyber Monday are increasingly merging

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The physical rush of Black Friday and the armchair browsing of Cyber Monday are increasingly blending into one big holiday shopping event as more customers buy items online and pick them up at brick-and-mortar stores.

Adobe Analytics reported Saturday that customers’ online orders that were picked up at stores increased 73 percent from Thursday to Friday.

It’s a sign that retailers are increasingly merging their online businesses with their physical stores. Walmart, Kohl’s and Target are among major retailers that are expanding the number of stores where shoppers can pick up online orders.

The Adobe report says Black Friday saw a record of more than $2 billion in sales done from smart phones alone. The report also says that online prices on Thanksgiving were as low as on Black Friday.


Lord & Taylor prepares to say goodbye to Fifth Avenue

NEW YORK (AP) — For generations, the lavish, theatrical holiday displays in the windows of the Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue helped define Christmas in New York.

This Christmas season, the most notable decorations at the Manhattan store are signs saying “everything must go.”

Lord & Taylor plans to close its longtime Fifth Avenue flagship in January after one last blowout sale.

Next year, the 11-story, Italian Renaissance-style building will be taken over by WeWork, the workspace leasing company.

Shoppers snapping up the store’s final bargains said they were saddened by its demise, especially the end of the holiday window displays Lord & Taylor helped pioneer.

WeWork and several investors aim to close the $850 million deal to buy the Fifth Avenue building by the end of January.


‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Creed’ sequels top holiday box office

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Movie sequels are having their own Thanksgiving feast at the box office.

Studios on Sunday said the “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel “Ralph Breaks the Internet” has earned an estimated $55.7 million over the three-day weekend and $84.5 million since its Wednesday opening to top the North American charts.

The Rocky spinoff “Creed II” has placed second with $35.3 million from the weekend and $55.8 million since Wednesday, far surpassing the first film’s Thanksgiving debut in 2015.

There was little left at the table for the latest version of “Robin Hood,” starring Taron Egerton. The poorly reviewed pic grossed only $14.2 million in its first five days in theaters against a reported production budget of nearly $100 million.


Macron prises Theresa May

BRUSSELS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has said the European Union must “learn lessons” from Britain’s decision to leave it.

Speaking from Brussels, Macron said that the exit of a major member state for the first time in the bloc’s history showed “Europe is fragile” and the EU “is not a given.”

The French leader said European leaders have a duty to “protect it against all those who forget that it is a guarantee of peace, prosperity and security.”

Macron also paid homage to British Prime Minister Theresa May for seeking a “path to durable cooperation” with the EU, while defending UK interests during negotiations.

Twenty-seven EU leaders endorsed a deal Sunday that sets out the terms of Britain’s departure on March 29 and sets a framework for future ties.

The endorsements came after Spain reached a deal with Britain over Gibraltar on Saturday.


Mitsubishi Motors board decides whether to oust Carlos Ghosn

TOKYO (AP) — The board of Mitsubishi Motors is meeting to decide whether to oust Carlos Ghosn as chairman at the Japanese automaker, which is allied with Renault-Nissan.

Ghosn was arrested a week ago on suspicion of under-reporting his income by millions of dollars for five years.

Nissan Motor Co. ousted him as its chairman and says an internal investigation found Ghosn abused company money and assets.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said the seven members of its eight-member board will meet Monday.

Ghosn’s arrest on Nov. 19 marked a stunning fall for an executive who dominated the Japanese auto industry for two decades and spearheaded Nissan’s alliance with Renault SA of France.

Ghosn also led the addition of Mitsubishi into the alliance. Nissan took a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi in 2016.


Turner’s B/R Live among providers offering match refunds

UNDATED (AP) — Turner’s B/R Live brand is offering a refund to those who experienced technical difficulties during the Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods pay-per-view match in Las Vegas.

B/R Live said Saturday that it would offer refunds. Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications, Dish/Sling TV and AT&T — via its DirecTV and U-Verse platforms — also announced refunds.

Technical difficulties marred the event, which was billed as golf’s first pay-per-view broadcast.

Some viewers unable to view it on their televisions after paying $19.95. Turner and Bleacher Report representatives sent out links on social media allowing people to view it for free on their computers and mobile devices.

Mickelson won Friday’s match over Woods on the fourth playoff hole to win $9 million.


Patients shocked, burned by device touted to treat pain

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) — Desperate for relief after years of agony, Jim Taft listened intently as his pain management doctor described a medical device that could change his life.

A spinal-cord stimulator wouldn’t fix the nerve damage in his mangled right arm, Taft and his wife recalled the doctor saying, but it would cloak his pain. Today, Taft is virtually paralyzed — and blames the device.

For years, medical device companies and doctors have touted spinal-cord stimulators as a panacea for patients suffering from a wide range of pain disorders.

But an Associated Press investigation found stimulators account for the third-highest number of medical device injury reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2008.

Some patients say they’ve been shocked or burned or have suffered spinal-cord nerve damage.


Utility reaches $2B settlement over failed nuclear plants

CAYCE, S.C. (AP) — Troubled utility SCANA has reached a $2 billion settlement with the South Carolina customers who sued after they were charged high rates to pay for the company’s failed nuclear construction project.

SCANA announced the agreement in a news release Saturday. As part of the settlement, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. will also receive $115 million that The State newspaper reports had been set aside for soon-to-be-ousted SCANA executives.

Before the settlement can be finalized, it must receive the approval of a judge and the S.C. Public Service Commission must also approve Virginia-based Dominion Energy’s proposed buyout of SCANA, SCE&G’s parent company.

Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. abandoned the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project near Columbia in 2017 following the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

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