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Update on the latest in business:

January 16, 2019


Asian shares higher despite growth worries, Brexit limbo

SINGAPORE (AP) — Shares were mostly higher today in Asia as investors shrugged off the parliamentary vote against British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for leaving the European Union. Weak Japanese data pulled the Nikkei 225 index lower.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.6 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.1 percent higher. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite index was flat. Shares fell in Taiwan, but rose in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

U.S. indexes climbed Tuesday to their highest level in a month after Chinese officials said measures were in place to help the world’s second largest economy through a slowdown. Technology companies rallied after Netflix announced its biggest price increase in history. The broad S&P 500 index jumped 1.1 percent to 2,610.30. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7 percent to 24,065.59. The Nasdaq composite, which has many technology stocks, jumped 1.7 percent at 7,023.83.


Macron tells Britain “good luck” with Brexit

LONDON (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is casting doubt on chances the European Union will renegotiate Britain’s exit deal after British lawmakers on Tuesday roundly rejected the one their government reached with the EU. Parliament voted 432-202 against the proposed divorce deal.

Speaking in Normandy after the vote, Macron said he really couldn’t believe the vote because the EU went as far it could. He told British leaders to “figure it out yourselves” and wished them “good luck” in figuring out a way to leave the EU on March 29 without a clear plan.

Macron is a strong defender of the EU and has pushed for the bloc to maintain a tough and unified position on Brexit, in part to prevent other countries from following the U.K. out the door. He said the 2016 Brexit referendum was “manipulated from the outside,” but didn’t elaborate.


EU Brexit negotiator fears disorderly Brexit more than ever

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says the bloc is stepping up preparations for a chaotic no-deal departure of Britain from the bloc after the rejection of the draft withdrawal deal in London left the EU “fearing more than ever that there is a risk” of a cliff-edge departure.

Barnier regretted Westminster’s massive rejection of the deal he negotiated with the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May and said that any future deal would still have to include approving the withdrawal agreement.

He said today that “whatever happens, ratification of the withdrawal agreement is necessary. It is a precondition.”

He said that a linked political declaration offered “possible options” for further talks.


IRS recalling 46,000 workers to handle taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service is recalling about 46,000 of its employees furloughed by the government shutdown — nearly 60 percent of its workforce — to handle tax returns and pay out refunds. The employees won’t be paid.

With the official start of the tax filing season coming Jan. 28, the Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, despite the disruption in government services caused by the partial shutdown now in its fourth week. There had been growing concern that the shutdown would delay refunds going out because the money wouldn’t be available for them from Congress.

Last week, the administration said customary shutdown policies will be reversed to make the money available and refund payments on time possible.


Some in GOP split with White House on Russia sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Almost a dozen Senate Republicans broke with the White House Tuesday on Russia, voting to move forward on a resolution that would maintain sanctions on companies linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The Democratic resolution would stop the Treasury Department from lifting penalties against the Russian aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal and two other companies connected to Deripaska. Senators took two procedural votes to proceed to the resolution, with 11 Republicans voting with Democrats.

While Democrats are unlikely to get the 60 votes they will eventually need to pass the resolution, the strong GOP showing — which came hours after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to Capitol Hill and urged Republicans to vote against the resolution — is yet another signal that Senate Republicans are willing to oppose the White House and President Donald Trump on national security matters.


Ivanka Trump to work on World Bank president search

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says Ivanka Trump will take part in the nomination process for a new head of the World Bank.

The senior adviser was asked to participate by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) because she has worked with World Bank leaders on a variety of projects. The White House said she is not a contender for the post.

Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank, announced last week that he is resigning.

With Kim’s exit, President Donald Trump will have the opportunity to nominate his own choice to fill the position. The leaders at the 189-nation World Bank have all been Americans. But other countries have complained about this pattern.

Kim’s permanent successor will be decided by the World Bank’s board of directors.


US gambling operators have 90 days to comply with new rules

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Department of Justice will wait 90 days to implement a legal opinion that will affect online gambling.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday issued a memo saying the delay will allow businesses to adjust their operations.

The legal opinion that became public Monday says a federal law that prohibits interstate wagering applies to any form of gambling that crosses state lines, not just sports betting.

It is a reversal for the department, which in 2011 determined that online gambling within states that does not involve sporting events would not violate the federal Wire Act.

Legal experts say casino operators and online lotteries will likely take the issue to court.

Becky Harris is the chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The gambling regulator says the agency is carefully reviewing the opinion.


Senators ask FDA to update rules on certain pot products

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s two senators are urging the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to update federal regulations to permit interstate commerce of food products containing a key non-psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.

The Tuesday appeal by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley came three weeks after Congress legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp and hemp derivatives, including cannabidiols, known as CBD. Wyden and Merkley were behind a hemp provision that Congress passed and was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

But after President Donald Trump signed the bill in December, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb restated his agency’s stance that CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore illegal to add to food or health products without his agency’s approval.

The senators asked Gottlieb to ditch what they call outdated regulations.


Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

NEW YORK (AP) — A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash, with accusations that it talks down to men and groups calling for a boycott. But Gillette says it doesn’t mind sparking a discussion. Since it debuted Monday, the Internet-only ad has garnered nearly 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — a level of buzz that any brand would covet.

The two-minute ad from Procter & Gamble’s razor brand shows men and boys engaging in bullying and sexual harassment, and encourages men to “say the right thing” and “act the right way.” Taking on bullying, sexual harassment and toxic masculinity is a big task for a razor brand.

The outcry echoes other attempts by major advertisers like Pepsi and Nike to take on social issues.


Craft beer taps squeezed as shutdown delays new releases

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The nation’s craft beer taps are being squeezed by the government shutdown, which has put new releases on hold, prevented new breweries from opening and stopped shipments of some suds across state lines.

The partial shutdown halted operations at the federal agency that regulates alcohol production and distribution. That means government employees can’t issue the permits needed for the beer to flow.

Brewers are increasingly nervous that they will lose money if brewery openings and seasonal beers are delayed much longer in the dispute over President Donald Trump’s demand for taxpayer funding of a wall along the border with Mexico.


Grocery robots detect spills - with some far-off human help

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A wheeled robot named Marty is rolling into nearly 500 grocery stores to alert employees if it encounters spilled granola, squashed tomatoes or a broken jar of mayonnaise.

But there could be a human watching from behind its cartoonish googly eyes.

Badger Technologies CEO Tim Rowland says its camera-equipped robots stop after detecting a potential spill. But to make sure, humans working in a control center in the Philippines review the imagery before triggering a cleanup message over the loudspeaker.

Rowland says 25 of the robots are now operating at certain Giant, Martin’s and Stop & Shop stores, with 30 more arriving each week. It’s not the only robot that U.S. shoppers might spot this year. Walmart and Midwestern supermarket chain Schnucks have deployed robots that help monitor inventory.

Update hourly