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Update on the latest in business:

December 4, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks slip on worries over US-China tariffs truce

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Tuesday as investors questioned if a 90-day truce in a tariffs battle will allow the U.S. and China to resolve a range of issues from technology development to trade.

A cease-fire in a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies lifted major U.S. indexes on Monday. The S&P 500 index jumped 1.1 percent to 2,790.37, after gaining close to 5 percent last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1.1 percent higher at 25,826.43. The Nasdaq composite added 1.5 percent to 7,441.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1 percent to 1,548.96.

Oil prices are rallying ahead of an OPEC meeting on Thursday, where members are expected to cut output in 2019. News that the Canadian province of Alberta will cut production by 325,000 barrels a day also boosted sentiment. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $53.50 per barrel.

The dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.

CHINA-US-TRADE

White House hails China trade truce as skeptics raise doubts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is celebrating the 90-day truce it reached in its trade war with China as a significant breakthrough despite scant details, a hazy timetable and widespread skepticism that Beijing will yield to U.S. demands anytime soon.

Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser calls it “just an enormous, enormous event.”″ This one covers so much ground in some detail, we’ve never seen this before.”

Yet many economists raised doubts that much had been — or would be — achieved within three months.

Alec Phillips and other economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a research note that, “The actual amount of concrete progress made at this meeting appears to have been quite limited,”.

Most economists noted that the two countries remain far apart on the biggest areas of disagreement, which include Beijing’s subsidies for strategic Chinese industries, in addition to forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.

Bill Adams, senior economist at PNC said that “Ninety days is very little time to fix these perennial issues.”

FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELL

Fed Chairman Powell says economic challenges remain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that despite solid economic progress, the country still faces a number of challenges including slow wage-growth for lower-income workers to sluggish productivity and an aging population.

Powell said Monday that these challenges remain even though progress has been made by reducing unemployment to a near five-decade low and bolstering the financial system after the 2008 financial crisis. Powell says that while there have been recent gains in wage growth, wages for lower-income workers have grown quite slowly over the past few decades.

He says a decadeslong decline in economic mobility has made it more difficult for lower-income Americans to move up the economic ladder.

CLIMATE

Leaders stress need to win support for climate measures

KATOWICE, Poland (AP) — As leaders attending the U.N.’s annual climate summit heard fresh warnings about the dire consequences of leaving global warming unchecked, a new issue emerged Monday as a pressing concern: how to persuade millions of workers their industry can’t have a future if humanity is to have one.

Hosting the talks in the heart of its coal region of Silesia, Poland tried to set the tone for the two-week meeting by promoting the idea of a “just transition” for miners and other workers facing layoffs as countries adopt alternative energy sources.

The issue of a “just transition” isn’t restricted to workers in energy industries who might lose their jobs. Many economists argue that ambitious curbs on greenhouse emissions require raising the cost of carbon fuels — one of the measures that triggered large-scale protests in France by motorists feeling the squeeze at the pump.

Scientists say the only way to keep average global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) by the end of the century is to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2050. That is the most ambitious goal set in the 2015 Paris agreement, which negotiators from nearly 200 countries have come to Katowice to finalize.

BUFFALO BILLION-TRIAL

Developer gets prison in ‘Buffalo Billion’ bid rigging case

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge Monday sentenced a Buffalo developer to 28 months behind bars and ordered him to pay a $500,000 fine in a bid-rigging scheme connected to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic redevelopment program.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni suspended the prison term while Louis Ciminelli appeals his conviction.

Ciminelli, 63, was found guilty with three others over the summer in a pay-to-play conspiracy in which his firm won a development job worth a half billion dollars. Prosecutors called the scheme an “enormous fraud” and said it involved state-funded contracts worth more than $850 million.

Prosecutors said Ciminelli and others in his company contributed nearly $100,000 to Cuomo’s campaign. The Democratic governor was not accused of wrongdoing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Podolsky asked Caproni not to allow Ciminelli the chance to “buy his way out of prison” by pointing to his years of philanthropy in Buffalo. Rather, he asked the judge to send the message that “everyone has to play by the same rules” when bidding on state contracts, irrespective of which lobbyists they know and which connections they have.

Caproni said the case left her and others to wonder what other economic development projects Ciminelli’s construction firm might have won by “cheating.”

Ciminelli, who has maintained his innocence, told the judge he intends to keep fighting to clear his name.

CHINA-LUXURY SHOPPING CHILL

Economic chill dulls Chinese appetite for some luxury brands

BEIJING (AP) — The designer boutiques of Manhattan and Paris are feeling the chill of a Chinese economic slowdown that has hammered automakers and other industries.

That is jolting brands such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry that increasingly rely on Chinese customers who spend $90 billion a year on jewelry, clothes and other high-end goods. The industry already is facing pressure to keep up as China’s big spenders, mainstays for American and European retailers, buy more at the spreading networks of luxury outlets in their own country.

Last week, Tiffany & Co. showed how much well-heeled Chinese tourists matter to retailers abroad. Its shares fell 12 percent after its CEO said they were spending less.

TRUMP HOTEL-LAWSUIT

DC, Md. officials ready with subpoenas in Trump hotel case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland say they’re moving forward with subpoenas for records in their case accusing President Donald Trump of profiting off the presidency.

Such information would likely provide the first clear picture of the finances of Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel.

Trump’s Justice Department lawyers filed a notice to the court on Friday that appeared to challenge the Maryland judge’s decision to allow the case to move forward. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Constitution’s Emoluments Clause prohibits federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

RACECAR DRIVER-PAYDAY SCAM

$1.3B award upheld against racecar driver over payday loans

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. appeals court has upheld a nearly $1.3 billion award against a pro racecar driver convicted of deceiving consumers with his payday loan business.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that information Scott Tucker’s companies provided consumers did not accurately disclose the loans’ terms.

The appeals panel also said a lower court did not abuse its authority when it ordered Tucker and other defendants to pay back nearly $1.3 billion in a case brought forward by the Federal Trade Commission.

An attorney for Tucker, Paul C. Ray, said he was reviewing the decision.

Tucker is from Leawood, Kansas and was sentenced in January in a related criminal case to more than 16 years in prison on fraud and other charges.

GAS EXPLOSION-ILLINOIS

NTSB: Fiber optic drilling led to 2016 explosion, killing 1

CANTON, Ill. (AP) — Federal investigators say drilling to install a fiber optic conduit likely caused a gas explosion that killed one person and injured 11 more in a central Illinois community.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a draft report Monday saying the drilling by Sure Shot Communications LLC pierced a 1-inch natural gas line, causing the Nov. 16, 2016, explosion in Canton, 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

The explosion occurred while utility workers were trying to fix the gas leak. The blast killed a 38-year-old Ameren Illinois employee, Arturo Silva Jr. of Mapleton.

The report says Sure Shot’s decision not to excavate at the site to inspect the work contributed to the gas line damage.

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