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Update on the latest business

August 2, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street after reversing an early slide.

Technology stocks rose as Apple became the first publicly traded company to be worth $1 trillion. Apple jumped 2.4 percent. On Tuesday the company reported strong results and higher prices for iPhones.

Health care and consumer products makers are also higher.

Industrial companies fell as the White House threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods, escalating a trade war between the two economic powers.

TRILLION DOLLAR APPLE

Financial fruit: Apple becomes 1st trillion-dollar company

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple has become the world’s first publicly traded company to be valued at $1 trillion.

The milestone marks the financial fruit of stylish technology that has redefined society since two mavericks named Steve started the company 42 years ago.

The peak reached Thursday seemed unimaginable in 1997 when Apple teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, with its stock trading for less than $1.

To survive, Apple brought back its once-exiled co-founder, Steve Jobs, as interim CEO and turned to its archrival Microsoft for a $150 million cash infusion to help pay its bills.

Jobs eventually introduced such popular products as the iPod and iPhone that have driven Apple’s rise.

Apple shares rose 2.7 percent to an all-time high of $207.05 around midday. They’re up 22 percent so far this year.

US-CHINA TARIFFS

China appeals for US calm after new tariff threat

BEIJING (AP) — China has appealed to Washington to stay level-headed and “correct its attitude” following a U.S. threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, on Thursday warned the Trump administration “not to try to blackmail China, because it will never work.”

Geng said at a news conference, “we advise the United States to be level-headed and avoid simply acting on impulse.”

The two governments have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods over complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

The U.S. Trade Representative announced Wednesday it was considering raising import duties on an additional list of Chinese goods by 25 percent instead of the previously planned 10 percent.

GOOGLE-CHINA

Reports: Google working on censorship-ready search for China

NEW YORK (AP) — Google is reportedly working on a mobile version of its search engine that will comply with strict censorship controls in China.

The Intercept reported that the work has been ongoing since the spring of 2017 and was accelerated in December following a meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a top government official. It cited internal Google documents and unnamed people familiar with the plans.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal confirmed the work in separate reports Wednesday, also citing unnamed sources. Google did not reply to a request for comment.

According to The Intercept, Google created a custom Android app that will automatically filter out sites blocked by China’s so-called “Great Firewall.” Google has not offered search services in China since it exited the country in 2010.

CHINA-STARBUCKS-ALIBABA

Starbucks, Alibaba announce China delivery venture

BEIJING (AP) — Starbucks and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group have announced a coffee delivery venture that adds to growing competition in China’s premium coffee market.

Starbucks Coffee Co. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said Thursday the venture will start deliveries next month in Beijing and Shanghai. It will expand to 30 cities by the end of the year.

The service mimics Luckin Coffee, a Chinese upstart that opened this year and is challenging Starbucks by delivering coffee ordered over a mobile phone app.

MORTGAGE RATES

Average US mortgage rates rise; 30-year at 4.60 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose for the second straight week, continuing to dampen prospects for potential homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.60 percent this week from 4.54 percent last week. Long-term loan rates have been running at their highest levels in seven years. The average benchmark 30-year rate reached a high this year of 4.66 percent on May 24. By contrast, the rate stood at 3.93 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans increased to 4.08 percent this week from 4.02 percent last week.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 3.93 percent from 3.87 percent last week. The fee dropped to 0.2 point from 0.4 point.

RAM TRUCKS-RECALL

Ram pickups recalled; tailgates that can unexpectedly open

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 1.4 million Ram pickups in the U.S. and Canada because tailgates with power locks can open while the trucks are moving.

The recall covers Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups from the 2015 through 2017 model years.

The company says in U.S. and Canadian government documents that if the tailgates open, unsecured cargo could fall into the road and cause a crash.

Fiat Chrysler says it has no reports of any crashes or injuries. U.S. documents say FCA received more than 5,800 complaints and warranty claims about the problem.

Dealers will fix the tailgate locking mechanism at no cost to owners. The recall is expected to start Sept. 14.

TRUMP-MILEAGE STANDARDS

States going to court to challenge mileage rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia say they’ll go to court to stop a proposed rollback in mileage standards.

California and New York are among the states signing on to a statement Thursday pledging legal action against the Trump administration’s action on fuel efficiency.

The group of attorneys general says in a statement that relaxing the nation’s mileage standards will make Americans “breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pumps.”

The Trump administration says it wants to freeze mileage standards at 2020 levels. The administration argues that should make new cars cheaper, and get newer, safer cars on the roads quicker as a result.

CONGRESS-HEALTH OVERHAUL

Dems will try forcing Senate vote against Trump health plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats will try forcing a campaign-season vote on blocking a Trump administration rule allowing insurers to sell short-term plans that are cheaper but skimpier than allowed under the Obama health care law, party leaders said Thursday.

Though the effort has a chance of passing the narrowly divided Senate, it is certain to die in the Republican-controlled House.

Even so, Democrats believe a pre-election Senate vote would put GOP senators in a difficult spot because the new plans won’t necessarily contain popular features like covering people with pre-existing medical conditions or certain benefits like prescription drugs.

Democrats said they will use the seldom-utilized Congressional Review Act, which under some circumstances lets any senator force a vote on overturning recent actions taken by federal agencies.

CBS IN TURMOIL

CBS to report 2Q results as turmoil swirls

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS will report second-quarter earnings after the market closes on Thursday as turmoil swirls around the media company as the important fall TV season approaches.

CEO Les Moonves is facing an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct. The CBS board ordered the investigation after the New Yorker magazine reported that six women have accused Moonves of forced kissing, unwanted sexual advances and career retaliation against women who rebuffed him over a period of at three decades.

CBS has hired two high-profile law firms to investigate the sexual-misconduct claims. Both teams will be led by women.

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that a CBS board committee was informed several months ago of an investigation by police in Los Angeles into an alleged sexual assault by Monves. No charges filed.

Moonves is expected to face questions from analysts during an earning conference call Thursday.

CBS is also locked in a court battle with its parent company, National Amusements, which is headed by media mogul Sumner Redstone’s daughter Shari Redstone.

NUCLEAR REACTORS-SOUTH CAROLINA

Utility locked in golden parachutes rejected by investors

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Investors in a South Carolina utility humbled by a multibillion-dollar nuclear construction debacle have voted against golden parachutes for top executives if they lose their jobs as a result of the sale to Virginia-based Dominion Energy.

But SCANA Corp.’s board chairman says the premium severance packages are locked in, no matter what investors decided when they voted Tuesday to approve the sale.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports board chairman Maybank Hagood told investors the payouts were “contractual.” Those contracts entitle 11 current and former SCANA executives to payouts totaling nearly $38.5 million if they lose their jobs after the deal is approved.

SCANA and state-owned utility Santee Cooper sunk $9 billion into the failed nuclear project, obligating consumers to repay the debt in their power bills each month.

BROOKSTONE-BANKRUPTCY

Brookstone files for Ch.11 bankruptcy protection again

Brookstone, the ubiquitous seller of cool but largely unneeded things, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection again.

The specialty gift store said in a filing on Thursday that it had assets of $50 million to $100 million, and liabilities of $100 million to $500 million.

It first filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014. The Merrimack, New Hampshire, company was sold at auction in June of that year before emerging from bankruptcy protection.

Brookstone Inc. began in 1965 when Pierre de Beaumont put an ad in Popular Mechanics Magazine offering hard-to-find tools and other devices, according to the company’s website. Its first store opened in 1973.

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