Update on the latest in business:
Asian shares slightly higher, though Japan is exception
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were slightly higher today following a record high close on Wall Street, except for Japan, where a pause in the dollar’s strengthening dampened optimism about exporters.
Trading in Asia was muted overall as market players are weighing an anticipated rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in December.
On Wall Street yesterday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to a record high of 2,510.06. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40.49 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,381.20. The Nasdaq composite inched up 0.19 points to 6,453.45. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks continued to set new highs as it advanced 3.97 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,488.79.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped to just above $51.50 a barrel.
The dollar dipped against the yen and the euro.
Farmers say Maria wrecked bright spot of Puerto Rico economy
UNDATED (AP) — Farmers fear Puerto Rico’s small but diverse agricultural sector may never recover from the sucker punch delivered to one of the island’s economic bright spots by Hurricane Maria.
While most of the island’s food is imported, statistics from the governor showed employment in agriculture growing, and the area cultivated was up 50 percent in the four years before Maria.
But all that came to a halt on Sept. 20 when the strongest hurricane in a century hit the island, leaving nearly all the population without electricity and most without water.
An ornamental plants grower estimates he lost $1.5 million. A dairy farmer says some 700 cows are missing or dead. And a coffee grower who was about to harvest the crop says there won’t be a harvest this year.
China sets target for electric car quota but delays rollout
BEIJING (AP) — China has stepped up pressure on automakers to accelerate development of electric cars by raising its first-year target for production quotas but delayed their rollout from next year until 2019.
The announcement is the latest step in aggressive plans to make China a leader in electric car technology. Communist leaders see them as a way to clean up China’s smog-choked cities and create a profitable industry.
Electrics will have to make up at least 10 percent of each automaker’s output, up from 8 percent in an earlier proposal, and those that fail to meet their targets can buy credits from competitors that do. The launch was postponed from next year until 2019.
Beijing’s support for electric vehicle sales has made China the biggest market for the technology.
NEVADA MARIJUANA-TAX REVENUE
Nevada’s first month of pot sales nets $3.7 million taxes
RENO, Nev. (AP) — State tax officials say the first month of legal sales of recreational marijuana in Nevada brought in more than $3.5 million in tax revenue.
Nevada Tax Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein (KLAPP’-steen) told The Associated Press Thursday they are “good numbers” consistent with projections pot sales will generate $120 million in state taxes over the next two years.
The combination of a 15 percent wholesale and 10 percent retail tax raised $3.68 million in July, the first month of Nevada’s fiscal year.
Some of that’s headed to the state’s rainy day fund. But the vast majority going forward is dedicated to schools.
Legal sales began July 1.
The $120 million biennial projection anticipates $5 million in monthly tax revenue. But Klapstein says state officials actually projected no revenue for July because of uncertainty surrounding licensing and local ordinances.
California regulator admits to anxiety as legal pot nears
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — In about three months, recreational marijuana sales will kick off in California, yet no one knows exactly how the pot economy will work.
It could take until late November for the state to issue regulations that will govern the new marketplace.
Meanwhile, growers and sellers are wondering how the industry can function when some operators will have licenses and others might not. There are also questions about banking and federal law enforcement, since pot remains illegal in the eyes of the U.S. government.
Last year, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized recreational pot sales to adults in the nation’s most populous state.
The law takes effect in 2018, when newly legalized recreational sales will be merged with the state’s two-decade-old medical marijuana market.
Ajax heard a range of concerns from operators and consultants who are trying to maneuver through a maze of new rules that will dictate where pot can be grown, how it’s tested, distributed, taxed and sold.
Ajax said she doesn’t know how many operators will come forward to seek licenses. It’s a critical question, since the state’s legitimate pot sales could be undercut by illegal operators.
How tax-cut plan could benefit Trump and wealthy staffers
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump. Ivanka Trump. Steven Mnuchin. Wilbur Ross. Betsy DeVos. Gary Cohn. Jared Kushner.
A long list of wealthy insiders in the Trump White House would, at least in theory, enjoy a financial windfall from the tax cuts the president proposed Wednesday. Much of their income in the past has come from investments and business profits, which stand to benefit from the proposed tax changes.
Yet the president maintains that rich Americans like him would actually pay more under his plan. His claim rests largely on how he’s keeping score of a plan still short on key specifics, obscuring how much of the benefits could accrue to multi-millionaires and billionaires.
Speaking in Indiana on Wednesday, Trump said he expected that wealthy taxpayers might phone him to complain but that he’d rebuff them.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s secret seems to have gotten out
DETROIT (AP) — It sounded like inside dope coming from President Donald Trump.
He told an Indiana audience on Wednesday that five big car factories or expansions are coming to the U.S. but he’s not supposed to talk about it. Turns out his secret may not be so secret, or so big, after all.
A day before he spoke mysteriously about five factories on the horizon, Toyota announced it was putting more money into five existing U.S. plants. The move adds only 50 jobs.
Could big new factories also be on the horizon? Always possible, but an expansion of the magnitude hinted at by Trump is unlikely in the declining U.S. auto market. And Trump has been known to boast about investments that don’t materialize or were planned before he took office.
PAYDAY LENDERS-RACKETEERING CASE
Payday lenders go on trial on racketeering charges
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An attorney for the head of a Pennsylvania-based payday lending enterprise accused of charging more than 700 percent interest on short-term loans says his client never broke the law.
Prosecutors at the opening of the federal racketeering trial Thursday charged that 76-year-old Charles M. Hallinan and his lawyer conspired to evade state regulations that cap interest rates.
Authorities say Hallinan partnered with Native American tribes and a bank as the supposed lenders so his lending businesses could claim immunity from state rules. His companies took in nearly $700 million from 2008 to 2013 under names such as Easy Cash, My Payday Advance and Instant Cash USA.
Hallinan’s attorney says his client is “squeaky clean” and that his businesses never ran afoul of loan regulations.
INDIA’S TROUBLED ECONOMY
India’s flagging economy draws dire warnings of recession
NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power on a euphoric wave of promises to boost India’s economy, add millions of jobs and bring “good times” to the developing nation.
Three years later, India’s economic prospects look decidedly grimmer. India’s economic expansion has slowed to its lowest level in three years. Small businesses are struggling, or even shutting down, after overhauls of the nation’s currency and sales tax system. Modi’s own allies warn of a dire outlook, with some raising the specter of an economic depression.
The warnings have been sobering for Modi, who appointed a new Economic Advisory Council this week to offer him advice independent of the finance ministry.
Economists said that may be too little, too late.
OIL PIPELINE-POLICING COSTS
Governor grateful for help on pipeline costs
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum says he’s grateful that the company that built the Dakota Access pipeline has given the state $15 million to cover the costs of policing months of sometimes violent protests.
Burgum says the state will use the money to pay down debt it took on during the pipeline struggle. The state has a line of credit of $43 million to cover its costs.
The Standing Rock Sioux opposed the pipeline out of fear it would endanger water. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including many from out of state, helped police protests that included a months-long encampment in North Dakota.
Burgum says he’s committed to pursuing other avenues so North Dakota taxpayers don’t have to pay costs alone.
The company, Energy Transfer Partners, had long offered to help pay but former Gov. Jack Dalrymple had feared it might not be legal. Legislators passed a bill this year that called for accepting reimbursement.
Delivery by drone: Switzerland tests it in populated areas
ZOLLIKON, Switzerland (AP) — Drones will help deliver toothbrushes, deodorant and smartphones to Swiss homes this fall as part of a pilot project, the first of its kind over a densely populated area.
The drones will take items from a distribution center in the Zurich area and transport them 8 to 16 kilometers (5 to 10 miles) to awaiting delivery vans. The van drivers then bring the packages to homes.
Andreas Raptopoulos, the CEO of drone firm Matternet, said Thursday that the drones will speed up deliveries, buzzing over congested urban streets or natural barriers such as Lake Zurich.
Matternet, which is based in Menlo Park, California, is partnering on the project with Mercedes-Benz’s vans division and Swiss e-commerce startup Siroop.