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Update on the latest in business:

February 21, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares gain on rosy Japan data, bucking Wall St losses

TOKYO (AP) — Shares were higher in Asia on Wednesday, supported by rosy manufacturing data from Japan. The gains came despite losses on Wall Street, where a six-day winning streak was snapped by a plunge in Walmart stock and losses in other sectors.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1.5 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher and the Kospi in South Korea added 0.6 percent.

Walmart’s stock sank 10 percent on Tuesday, its biggest drop in 30 years, as a late sell-off erased early gains led by technology companies. Grocery store operators, retailers, health care companies and industrial stocks accounted for much of the market’s slide. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.6 percent to 2,716.26 and the Dow Jones industrial average slid 1 percent to 24,964.75. The Nasdaq edged 0.1 percent lower to 7,234.31. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 0.9 percent, to 1,529.99.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Business events scheduled for Wednesday

WASHINGTON (AP) — In major business and economic events scheduled for Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for January.

And the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its January interest-rate meeting.

EQUIFAX-CONGRESS

Democrats on House panel urge Equifax to extend protections

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic lawmakers on a House investigative panel are asking the credit-monitoring company Equifax Inc. to provide free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for at least three years.

Equifax has offered up to one year of complementary protections after a massive data breach last year compromised personal information for about 145 million Americans.

The Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee argue that identity thieves often wait much longer to act on stolen information.

The lawmakers said the company’s chief information security officer told committee staff in a briefing last October that data thieves would likely wait a year or more before attempting to sell the data on the black market.

AUSTRALIA-US

Australian PM heading to US for talks with Trump, governors

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heads to the United States on Wednesday accompanied by the largest Australian political and business delegation ever to visit the U.S.

President Donald Trump’s softening opposition to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be up for discussion when he meets Turnbull at the White House on Friday. The trade deal among 11 countries includes Australia, which also has a bilateral free trade partnership with the United States.

While in Washington, Turnbull will address the U.S. National Governors’ Association.

Turnbull, a wealthy 63-year-old former Goldman Sachs partner, sees himself as having a lot in common with Trump, as they are both successful businessmen who entered politics relatively late in life.

NEW ZEALAND-PACIFIC TRADE DEAL

New Zealand says Pacific trade deal will boost GDP 1 percent

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand estimates a Pacific trade deal would boost its economy by up to 1 percent as exporters would face reduced tariffs on goods like kiwifruit, wine and beef.

The analysis Wednesday came as details of the trade pact between 11 countries around the Pacific Rim were released. The countries, which include Japan, Canada and Australia, intend to sign the deal in March.

President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by pulling the U.S. out of an earlier version of the deal, previously called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

New Zealand estimates the deal would expand its economy by up to 4 billion New Zealand dollars ($2.9 billion) a year, according to the analysis released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The analysis concluded that not signing would shrink GDP.

INDIA-DONALD TRUMP JR.

Trump Jr: ‘Nonsense’ that family’s profiting from presidency

NEW DELHI (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. says any talk that his family is profiting from his father’s presidency is “nonsense” as he kicked off a highly publicized visit to India to promote real estate deals that bear his family’s name.

The eldest son of President Donald Trump arrived in India on Tuesday to meet the promoters and buyers of Trump brand luxury homes in the country, raising concerns that using the name of the American president to promote business ventures internationally is tricky ethical territory.

But Trump Jr. told an Indian television channel that his family was actually missing out on business opportunities because his father had pledged to conduct no new foreign business while in office.

The real estate ventures he is promoting were signed before his father took office.

3M CHEMICALS-LAWSUIT

3M to pay $850 million to settle suit over chemical disposal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 3M Co. has agreed to pay the state of Minnesota $850 million to settle a major case alleging the manufacturer damaged natural resources and contaminated groundwater by disposing of chemicals over decades, attorneys announced Tuesday.

The state was seeking $5 billion from Maplewood, Minnesota-based 3M in a case that focused on the company’s disposal of chemicals once used to make Scotchgard fabric protector and other products. The lawsuit, filed in 2010, alleged 3M damaged Minnesota’s natural resources, including more than 100 miles of the Mississippi River, and contaminated drinking water, harmed wildlife and posed a threat to human health.

The company denies it did anything wrong, insisting it was acting legally at the time.

EARNS-MGM RESORTS

MGM misses 4Q profit forecasts, shows effects of shooting

LAS VEGAS (AP) — MGM Resorts International reports fourth-quarter net income of $1.4 billion, which came almost entirely from its massive one-time windfall from the nation’s new tax law.

The company also provided a clear picture of how the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay casino-resort last fall affected its operations.

The Las Vegas-based company said it had a profit of $2.42 per share. Its earnings excluding the big tax windfall passed late last year amounted to less than a penny per share. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 7 cents per share.

The casino and resort operator posted revenue of $2.6 billion in the period, exceeding Wall Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.5 billion.

TACO BELL-RACIAL SLUR

Taco Bell cashier out after using racial slur on receipt

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Taco Bell says an employee who used a racial slur to refer to an Asian-American customer no longer works for them.

The fast food chain issued the statement Tuesday following reports that a cashier in Philadelphia used a slur to describe a student on a printed receipt over the weekend.

First-year University of Pennsylvania Ph.D student In Young Lee told the Daily Pennsylvanian that he thinks it’s important to make a conscious effort to fight racism. Lee also posted an image of the receipt on Facebook along with a post that said he was “infuriated” by the incident.

Taco Bell says the franchisee is retraining staff and that management has apologized directly to Lee.

ACTORS-AGE DISCRIMINATION

Judge tosses California law blocking actors’ ages on website

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge in Los Angeles has struck down a California law that restricts a popular Hollywood website from posting the ages of actors.

The law, aimed at preventing age discrimination in the entertainment industry, was ruled to violate the free speech rights of IMDb.com, which provides information about movies, television shows and their casts and crews.

The union representing actors says it’s disappointed in the ruling and intends to appeal.

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