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Update on the latest business

November 16, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street as losses in retailers and internet and technology companies offset gains elsewhere in the market.

Chipmaker Nvidia plunged 18 percent after saying it had a large number of unsold chips because of a big drop in mining of cryptocurrencies.

Health care companies and utilities rose along with the price of crude oil.

Troubled California power provider PG&E surged after the president of the utility’s state regulator said it was essential for a power company to have the financial strength to operate.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

US industrial production grew modest 0.1 percent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. industry expanded as a slower pace in October, with manufacturing growth offsetting declines in mining and utility production.

The Federal Reserve says that industrial production rose a modest 0.1 percent last month following a 0.2 percent advance in September and a sizable 0.8 percent advance in August.

The Fed says that recent hurricanes lowered production by a slight amount in both September and October.

Factory output was up 0.3 percent in October, matching the previous month despite a big drop in auto production.

The economy has been growing at a solid rate this year. But there are concerns that the strong dollar and rising trade tensions could hurt future export sales.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES-PG&E

Investors drive up stock of utility eyed in fire

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — Shares of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. have soared after California’s top utility regulator said his agency will help the company deal with potentially crippling liability costs from wildfires.

Stock prices soared 36 percent in midday trading Friday after plunging 60 percent and losing $15 billion in valuation in the week following the outbreak of a Northern California wildfire that is the nation’s deadliest in a century.

No cause has been determined, but speculation has centered on PG&E, which reported an outage around the time and place the fire ignited.

Late Thursday, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker sought to calm financial markets by indicating support for the continued viability of PG&E and other publicly traded utilities.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Picker said his agency will soon implement a provision in a new state law that allows utilities to pass costs for past wildfires to their customers. He said additional legislation may be needed to ensure that provision applies to this year’s fires.

AIRBNB-BILLION DOLLAR QUARTER

Airbnb says revenue for 3Q was best ever, topping $1 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Airbnb says it had its best quarter ever, even as cities across the U.S. have started clamping down on the short-term rental market.

The private San Francisco-based company said Friday its revenue for the third quarter easily topped $1 billion as guest reservations boomed internationally in places like Beijing, Mexico City and Birmingham, England.

Airbnb acts as an online booking agent for homeowners to make extra income by renting rooms, apartments and houses. Its growth has drawn the ire of the hotel industry and communities in the U.S. and abroad, where locals are uneasy with the constant turnaround of guests in their neighborhoods and apartment buildings.

Many cities and states across the U.S. have recently tightened rental guidelines in order to regulate the rapidly growing industry.

TURKEY SALMONELLA

Jennie-O recalling ground turkey in salmonella outbreak

NEW YORK (AP) — Jennie-O-Turkey is recalling more than 91,000 pounds of raw turkey in an ongoing salmonella outbreak.

The recall is the first tied to an outbreak the U.S. Department of Agriculture says is widespread. It has resulted in one death and 164 reported illnesses in 35 states.

Regulators did not say how many of those people were exposed to Jennie-O products. They say additional products from other companies could be named as their investigation continues.

The products being recalled include 1-pound packages of raw, ground turkey and were sold nationwide. They had a use-by date of October, but could still be in freezers.

Regulators say the product should be thrown away.

Salmonella in food is estimated to be responsible for 1 million illnesses a year, with symptoms including vomiting and stomach cramps.

CYPRUS-US-DRILLING

US energy official sees ‘great promise’ in eastern Med

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A U.S. State Department official says Washington sees “great promise” in developing energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean as ExxonMobil began exploratory drilling off Cyprus’ southwestern coast.

Francis Fannon, the Assistant Secretary of State responsible for energy matters, says Washington sees existing and potential gas deposits in the east Mediterranean as a catalyst for regional cooperation and economic development.

He said the U.S. will continue advancing energy development in the region as a priority and repeated support for Cyprus’ own hydrocarbons search.

Turkey strongly objects to exploratory drilling off Cyprus because it claims it infringes its own rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the ethnically split island nation’s natural resources.

Fannon was in Cyprus Friday as part of a three-nation visit that includes Israel and Egypt.

IRAQ-OIL

Iraq resumes Kirkuk oil exports after yearlong pause

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s Oil Ministry says Iraq has resumed exports from its oil fields around Kirkuk, one year after the city was seized by federal forces from the autonomous Kurdish administration in the north of the country.

Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad says an agreement was reached with the Kurdish Regional Government to export 50,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil per day, beginning Friday, through a pipeline that runs through Kurdish territory to Turkey.

Exports were halted in October 2017 after federal forces took control of the disputed city, costing the KRG millions of dollars in income as the two sides haggled over revenues and pipeline fees. The Turkey pipeline is the only one available to Kirkuk for exports.

Jihad said the federal government would collect the revenue from the renewed sales.

EUROPE-RECESSION RISKS

Brexit, Italy, trade: Risks piling up for Europe’s economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe’s five-year economic expansion is facing a mid-life crisis as it copes with a potential debt explosion in Italy, a U.S.-China trade war and the risk of a disorderly British exit from the European Union.

How those risks play out will decide whether the economic upswing that began in early 2013 and created 9.5 million more jobs ages gracefully for several more years — or meets an early demise.

The economy of the 19 countries that use the euro stumbled in July-September, when quarterly growth halved to 0.2 percent. Some see that as a natural slowdown after much stronger, trade-fueled expansion of 0.7 percent at the end of last year.

BREXIT

UK’s May fills Brexit-related Cabinet vacancies

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May has filled two vacancies in her Cabinet left by ministers who quit over Brexit.

Little-known lawmaker Stephen Barclay was named Brexit secretary. He replaces Dominic Raab, who quit Thursday because he opposed May’s draft Brexit agreement with the European Union.

The government says Barclay, formerly a junior health minister, will focus on “domestic preparedness” for Brexit now that negotiations with the EU are almost done.

Amber Rudd was made work and pensions secretary, replacing Esther McVey.

Rudd is a former Cabinet minister who resigned as home secretary in April amid a scandal over authorities’ mistreatment of long-term U.K. residents wrongly caught up in a government drive to reduce illegal immigration.

She is a longstanding ally of May’s and has said she supports the proposed divorce agreement with the EU.

CUBA-GOOGLE-FASHION

Fashion show blends Cuban private enterprise, US sponsorship

HAVANA (AP) — Models strutting in paint-stained shirts and leather construction boots have shed light on an unusual blend of Cuban private enterprise and American corporate sponsorship.

An open-air fashion show Thursday put on by the Cuban label Clandestina and internet giant Google was titled “Country Under Construction” and took place outside Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Google is one of the American companies that have had the greatest success in building relations with the Cuban government since the declaration of detente by Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama. It has installed Google servers in Cuba to speed up company services such as YouTube and has carried out smaller cultural projects like the fashion show.

Clandestina founder Idania del Rio said: “Google provides something that inspires us.”

BOOKS-OBAMA SALES

APNewsBreak: Obama’s memoir sells more than 700,000 copies

NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” is already well on its way to selling a million copies.

Crown Publishing tells The Associated Press on Friday that the former first lady’s memoir had sold more than 725,000 copies after its first day of publication. “Becoming” was released on Tuesday, the same day Mrs. Obama launched a national book tour. The sales total includes hardcover, audio and e-book editions for the United States and Canada.

Crown also announced that it had raised the book’s print run from 1.8 million copies to 2.6 million.

JELL-O-EDIBLE SLIME

Jell-O introduces its first edible slime

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kids will soon be able to eat AND play with their food.

Jell-O Play on Thursday introduced edible slime. The squishy and stretchy toy is a social media phenomenon, which spawned online recipes for edible versions.

Jell-O Play’s slime comes in strawberry-flavored Unicorn and lime-flavored Monster varieties. All customers have to do is add water and each canister makes two batches of slime. The company says it easily washes away with soap and warm water.

Jell-O says it launched Jell-O Play in the summer “to inspire families to engage in free play and fun.”

Edible slime will be available in select retailers in December or can be preordered online.

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