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Update on the latest in business:

November 8, 2018


Asian shares rally on US midterms, soothing fears of shifts

UNDATED (AP) — Asian markets are mostly higher today after the U.S. midterm elections went as expected, soothing fears of a sudden shift on trade and economic policies.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rallied 1.8 percent, even as machinery orders slid a record 18.3 percent in September from the previous month because of natural disasters. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.8 percent while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.1 percent. Shares were higher in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia but fell in the Philippines.

On Wall Street Yesterday, S&P 500 index jumped 2.1 percent to 2,813.89, its highest level in four weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 2.1 percent higher at 26,180.30 and the Nasdaq composite advanced 2.6 percent to 7,570.75. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.7 percent to 1,582.16.


Major business and economic reports due out today

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freddie Mac releases its report on this week’s average mortgage rates today.

Also, Federal Reserve policymakers release a statement on interest rates.

The Fed appears on track to raise interest rates once more this year but will likely hold off on any action when its policy meeting ends today.

Still, investors will be parsing the statement the Fed will issue after its meeting for any sign that it might be rethinking its probable pace of credit tightening in the coming months.

On the corporate earnings front, the Walt Disney Co. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes.


US consumer borrowing up solid $10.9 billion in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increased their borrowing by a solid amount in September. But the gain was less than half the big August surge as borrowing in the category that includes credit cards fell.

The Federal Reserve says consumer borrowing rose by a seasonally adjusted $10.9 billion following a gain of $22.9 billion in August. That had been the strongest increase in nine months.

The September increase was below economists’ expectations for a $16.5 billion gain. The category that covers auto loans and student loans rose a solid $11.2 billion. The category for credit cards fell by $311.6 million after having risen $4.6 billion in August.

Consumer borrowing is closely tracked for signs of consumers’ willingness to take on more debt to finance their purchases.


Tesla says Robyn Denholm of Telstra to be new board chair

BANGKOK (AP) — Tesla says that Robyn Denholm of Australia’s Telstra will become its new board chair.

The electric car company says in a statement that Denholm will leave Telstra after a six-month notice period with Australia’s biggest telecoms company. The appointment takes effect immediately: Denholm already is on Tesla’s board.

Tesla says Denholm’s post as board chair will be a full-time position.

Musk agreed to vacate his post as board chairman as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators of a lawsuit alleging he duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

The settlement in late September with the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Musk to remain CEO of Tesla but required him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years.


Report: Google planning big New York City expansion

NEW YORK (AP) — The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is planning a major expansion in New York City.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the company plans to add space for more than 12,000 additional New York workers. The Journal cited anonymous people familiar with the plans.

The paper said Google has New York real estate deals in the works that would give it room for nearly 20,000 workers. Those include buying or leasing a 1.3 million-square-foot building in the city’s West Village neighborhood due to be completed by 2022.

Seattle-based Amazon is reportedly considering dividing a new second headquarters between New York’s Long Island City and Crystal City in northern Virginia. That would potentially add 25,000 jobs to each place.


3 get prison in Fiat Chrysler-UAW training center scandal

DETROIT (AP) — Two former Fiat Chrysler executives and a union official have been sentenced to prison in a corruption scandal at a labor training center.

Jerome Durden, who controlled the finances at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison. Michael Brown, who helped run the center, was sentenced to a year in prison. United Auto Workers official Keith Mickens got a similar sentence.

Seven people have pleaded guilty in the federal probe, including Fiat Chrysler’s former senior labor negotiator. The indictment alleged there was a conspiracy between some company officials and senior members of the union to use money from a training center for travel, clothes, booze and other luxuries.

The union’s Fiat Chrysler negotiator, General Holiefield, died in 2015. He got $262,000 to pay off a mortgage.


Australian watchdog approves Nine network, Fairfax merger

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s competition watchdog has approved the proposed merger of television network Nine Entertainment and newspaper publisher Fairfax Media into a media giant to be known only as Nine.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims says the merger reduces the number of corporations focused on Australian news from five to four. Nine was traditionally a free-to-air television network and Fairfax a quality newspaper publisher.

Sims says in a statement “the proposed merger was not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market.”

Fairfax shareholders have yet to vote on the merger plan that would give Nine shareholders 51.1 per cent of the combined entity and make Nine chief executive Hugh Marks leader of the new company.

Fairfax shareholders will own the remaining 48.9 percent.


Australia details investment in South Pacific infrastructure

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister has outlined the country’s plans to increase investments in infrastructure in the South Pacific as China’s influence in those nations grows.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also has detailed plans for greater military and diplomatic engagement with Australia’s island neighbors who are increasing looking to China for aid through the country’s One Belt One Road infrastructure program.

Morrison says Australia will establish the AU$2 billion Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific which will provide grant and long-term loans for investments in telecommunications, energy, transport and water infrastructure. Another AU$1 billion will be injected into Australia’s export credit agency.

Australian will also put diplomats in all 18 countries in the Pacific Islands Forum, with new embassies planned in Palau, Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Nui and Cook Islands.


China’s exports to US tick up as traders try to beat tariffs

BEIJING (AP) — Growth in Chinese exports to the United States ticked up in October as traders rushed to beat a new round of U.S. tariff hikes in a battle over Beijing’s technology policy.

Customs data shows sales to the U.S. market rose 13.3 percent over a year earlier, up from September’s 13 percent growth.

Economists at ING says the data show Chinese exporters are trying to beat a U.S. tariff increase planned for January. They said a meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump this month in Argentina is unlikely to produce positive results.

Governments of the two biggest global economies have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in the fight over U.S. complaints about Chinese technology policy.


Import extravaganza highlights China’s promise, challenges

SHANGHAI (AP) — Visitors to a vast trade fair meant to rebrand China as a welcoming import market could sip Moroccan wine, ogle Italian yachts and watch a Japanese industrial robot play ping-pong.

The communist government’s marketing extravaganza in Shanghai this week involved 3,600 companies from 152 countries. It showcases the promise and challenges of China’s growing, state-dominated and intensely competitive markets.

Eager to dispel complaints they abuse the global trading system, China’s leaders are touting its growing demand for foreign food, luxury brands, entertainment and other goods.

The promotion of consumer spending to help drive self-sustaining economic growth and reduce reliance on trade and investment, holds out the promise of a market of 1.4 billion consumers, even if incomes are a fraction of those in developed countries.


Smartphone makers bet on foldable screens as next big thing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The smartphone industry has been searching for a breakthrough to revive a market mired in an innovation lull and a sales slump.

A potential catalyst is coming with the introduction of phones featuring flexible screens that can be folded in half without breaking. That feat could make the devices more versatile for work and pleasure, by increasing screen space without making phones too big.

On Wednesday, Samsung provided a glimpse at a foldable-screen device that it will release next year. It’s expected to compete against several other flexible-screen phones.

But it’s unclear whether the flexibility will have mass appeal, especially when the bendy devices are expected to cost more than $1,000.

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