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Update on the latest in business:

November 6, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares meander, oil lower ahead of US midterms vote

BANGKOK (AP) — Share prices are mixed in Asia as markets await the outcome of the U.S. midterm elections.

Financial markets have been on a roller-coaster ride and the election Tuesday could roil things further. U.S. midterm elections, votes on lawmakers and other officials that fall between presidential elections, are often marked by low voter turnout. But political watchers are expecting voter angst over which party will control the U.S. House and Senate to drive more Americans to cast votes. Asia will be watching to see how the vote might influence U.S. trade and security policies.

U.S. stocks mostly rose Monday as financial and health care companies finished higher, while Apple and other technology companies fell further. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which owns GEICO and other insurance businesses, led the rally in financial stocks after it reported strong results over the weekend. The S&P 500 index added 0.6 percent to 2,738.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8 percent to 25,461.70, but the Nasdaq composite sank 0.4 percent, to 7,328.85. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 0.47 point to 1,547.51.

Keeping hopes alight for a resolution of a punishing trade war between the two biggest economies, a Chinese vice president, Wang Qishan, said at a conference in Singapore that Beijing is ready to discuss issues with the Trump administration. That followed positive assessments by both Chinese officials and President Donald Trump of a phone conversation last week between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped to just below $63 per barrel.

The dollar rose against the yen and the euro.

JAPAN-EARNS-TOYOTA

Toyota quarterly profit rises on growing sales, cost cuts

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. has raised its earnings forecast after reporting that its profit surged 28 percent in the last quarter on growing sales and cost cuts.

The top Japanese automaker said Tuesday that its July-September profit was 585.1 billion yen ($5.2 billion), up from 458.3 billion yen the year before.

Quarterly sales rose 2 percent to 7.31 trillion yen ($64.7 billion).

The manufacturer of the Camry sedan, Prius hybrid and Corolla subcompact forecast a 2.3 trillion yen ($20 billion) profit for the fiscal year through March.

That exceeds its earlier forecast for 2.1 trillion yen ($19 billion), but down nearly 8 percent from nearly 2.5 trillion yen in the previous fiscal year.

Toyota sold 2.183 million vehicles in July-September, up from 2.175 million vehicles the same period the year before.

IRAN-US

Iran president warns of ‘war situation’ as sanctions resume

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has greeted the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions with air defense drills and a statement from President Hassan Rouhani that the nation faces a “war situation.”

The developments raise Middle East tensions as America’s maximalist approach to the Islamic Republic takes hold. The sanctions end all the economic benefits America had granted Tehran for its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord.

Iran ran televised air defense drills showing soldiers cheering the downing of a drone, but otherwise held back from any military response over U.S. efforts to curtail what Washington calls its “malign activities” across the Middle East. While previously warning it could ramp up its nuclear program, Iran still honors the atomic accord now limiting its enrichment of uranium, according to the United Nations.

As Iranian officials struck a martial tone, the strain could be felt on the streets of Tehran. It lurked in shops emptied by the country’s rapidly depreciating currency. It could be felt in the lines at currency exchange shops. And it could be heard in the stress of the voices of people struggling to buy medicine.

INSIDER TRADING

Appeals court tosses out banker’s insider trading conviction

NEW YORK (AP) — The insider trading conviction of an investment banker was overturned Monday by a divided appeals court panel that concluded there were procedural errors at his trial.

The 2-1 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means the Yale-educated Sean Stewart could face another trial on charges his father and others made over $1 million trading on secrets he shared about pending mergers and acquisitions.

Stewart, 37, of Manhattan, a former executive in mergers and acquisitions at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Perella Weinberg Partners LP, was released from prison in June after serving a year of a three-year sentence.

The appeals court said Stewart deserves a new trial because his lawyers were not permitted by a Manhattan trial judge to adequately challenge a statement that his father, Robert Stewart, had made.

Statements his father made to the FBI after his father’s arrest in the case were not allowed to be shown to jurors, something the appeals court said was a mistake that could have made a meaningful difference in jury deliberations.

The father, who earned about $150,000 illegally, pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy count and was sentenced to a year of home detention.

AMAZON-HQ

Amazon mum on reports it will split new headquarters

NEW YORK (AP) — Online leader Amazon Inc. has refused comment on reports that it plans to split its new headquarters between two locations.

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported late Monday that the company would locate the new facilities in Queens in New York City and in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia.

A company spokesman said Tuesday that Amazon would not comment on “rumors and speculation.” An update from the company is expected soon.

The Wall Street Journal said the main reason for having the two facilities is to recruit enough tech workers. It also would relieve demand on housing, transportation and other issues.

The newspaper cited a person familiar with the matter.

It said the online retailer apparently plans to have 25,000 employees in both cities.

INDONESIA-LION AIR CRASH-SPEEDOMETER

Officials consider role of speed readings in Lion Air crash

UNDATED (AP) — Indonesian officials are focusing on faulty airspeed indicators as they investigate the deadly Lion Air crash, but safety experts say pilots should be able to work around problems with the sensors.

Investigators say the airspeed indicator on Lion Air’s Boeing jet malfunctioned on its last four flights, including the Oct. 29 crash that killed 189 people.

Such devices have been used for decades to tell pilots how fast they are flying. They fail on occasion, most often when tubes and sensors freeze during storms at high altitude, and they have been blamed for deadly crashes including Air France 447 in 2009.

Pilots train on simulators to learn how to fly safely when the indicators fail. In most cases, they say, failed sensors shouldn’t cause a crash.

SAN FRANCISCO-ILLEGAL AIRbnb RENTALS

Airbnb landlords agree to pay San Francisco $2.25 million

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco couple has agreed to a pay a $2.25 million settlement to the city for illegally renting out 14 apartments as Airbnb units.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Darren and Valerie Lee agreed to pay the money as penalties and investigation costs.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced the settlement, calling the penalty an important deterrent to others seeking to illegally profit from the city’s housing crisis.

The Lees were also barred for at least seven years from offering short-term rentals in any of the 17 San Francisco buildings they own or manage.

San Francisco requires people renting their homes through sites like Airbnb to live in them at least 275 nights a year and rent them no more than 90 days during that time.

CHINA-GAIT RECOGNITION

Chinese ‘gait recognition’ tech IDs people by how they walk

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese technology startup has begun selling software that recognizes people by their body shape and how they walk, enabling identification when faces are hidden from cameras.

Already used on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, “gait recognition” is part of a push to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance across China.

Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said its system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, even with their backs turned or faces covered. This can fill a gap in facial recognition, which needs close-up, high-resolution views of a person’s face to work.

Chinese police also use facial recognition to identify people in crowds and nab jaywalkers. Not everyone is comfortable with such surveillance.

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