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Business Highlights

December 18, 2018


Stock market woes raise a nagging fear: Is a recession near?

BALTIMORE (AP) — Fears of a recession have been mounting with the U.S. stock market appearing to be headed for its worst December since 1931 — during the Great Depression. Wall Street’s sustained slump has been fueled by investor concerns about lower corporate profits, higher corporate debt, a festering trade war between the United States and China and a broader global slowdown. So is a U.S. recession imminent? Not necessarily.


Stocks waver as plunging oil prices pull energy stocks lower

NEW YORK (AP) — After two days of huge losses, U.S. stocks ended the day back where they started on Tuesday. Energy companies sank as crude oil plunged 7 percent, but technology and consumer-focused companies climbed. U.S. crude oil fell to its lowest price since August 2017, and it has now fallen almost 40 percent since early October. Investors are worried that supplies continue to increase and that demand is slowing as the global economy weakens. The plunge in oil prices has crushed energy company stocks in recent weeks.


Grocery delivery, with no human drivers, is underway

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The nation’s largest grocery chain is trying to leap into the driverless delivery market. Kroger announcing Tuesday it will deliver milk, eggs and apples with nobody at the wheel. Although limited to within a mile of one Arizona supermarket, it represents a significant step forward for industries trying to lower delivery costs of everyday and those trying to launch self-driving cars on public roads. But Tuesday’s launch also highlighted some of the many challenges that are still ahead.


Some advertisers leave Carlson show after immigrant comments

ATLANTA (AP) — Some advertisers say they are leaving conservative host Tucker Carlson’s show following his remarks that immigrants could make the U.S. “poorer and dirtier.” It’s the latest example of sponsors leaving a Fox News Channel show after controversy. So far, the biggest advertisers are sticking with him. Fox News says ad revenue has shifted to other shows. Carlson says his show was “not intimidated” by criticism.


Elon Musk to unveil underground tunnel, transport cars

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is set to unveil an underground transportation tunnel that could move people faster than subways. Musk plans to unveil the test tunnel Tuesday, as well as the autonomous cars that will carry people through it. He’s also set to show off elevators he says will bring users’ own cars from the surface to the tunnel.


Trump administration moves to ban bump stocks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to officially ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like automatic firearms. A senior Justice Department official says bump stocks will be banned under the federal law that prohibits machine guns. The devices became a focal point of the national gun control debate after they were used in October 2017 in Las Vegas, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.


FedEx plans buyouts after weak international 2Q shipping

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — FedEx Corp. delivered a disappointing earnings report Tuesday and said it plans to offer buyouts to some of its workers and reduce spending to make up for weak international shipping, especially in Europe. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company said it had a fiscal second-quarter profit of $935 million, or $3.51 per share. That’s up $775 million, or $2.84 per share, a year ago. But the 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research were expecting earnings of $4.05 per share.


UK ramps up ‘no-deal’ Brexit preparations amid impasse

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government is ramping up preparations for the possibility the U.K. could leave the European Union in 101 days without a deal, urging thousands of businesses and millions of households to make sure they are ready for the worst. With the country’s departure set for March 29, it remains unclear whether British lawmakers will approve the divorce agreement the government has negotiated with the EU.


EU officials, firms meet African leaders to talk investment

BERLIN (AP) — European officials and companies met with African leaders in Vienna Tuesday for talks intended as a springboard to increase investment in Africa. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, said that investments of around 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) would be possible as a result of guarantees and other arrangements presented at Tuesday’s meeting.


The S&P 500 index inched up 0.22 of a point to 2,546.16. The Dow industrials added 82.66 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,675.64. The Nasdaq composite gained 30.18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,783.91. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies lost another 0.97 of a point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,377.18.

Benchmark U.S. crude plunged 7.3 percent to $46.24 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, sank 5.6 percent to $56.26 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 4.2 percent to $1.35 a gallon and heating oil lost 4 percent to $1.75 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 8.8 percent to $3.84 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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