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Update on the latest in business:

May 28, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks turn cautious

NEW YORK (AP) _ Investors appear to have turned cautious in afternoon trading after stocks opened with solid gains on Wall Street. Around midday, the Dow was up 25 points, or 0.1%. The Dow gained as much as 131 points earlier.

The market is coming off three straight weeks of losses.

Bond prices rose and the yield on the 10 year Treasury dropped to 2.27%. Falling yields are typically a sign that investors feel jittery about long-term economic prospects.

GLOBAL PAYMENTS-TOTAL SYSTEM SERVICES

Global Payments buying Total System Services in $21.5B deal

NEW YORK (AP) _ Total System Services rose 4.6% after agreeing to be acquired by rival payment processing company Global Payments in an all-stock deal valued at $21.5 billion. It’s the third major acquisition in the payment processing sector this year. The combined companies will provide payment and software technology to about 3.5 million small-to-mid-sized business and more than 1,300 financial institutions.

Upon expected closing in the final quarter of 2019, Global Payments shareholders will own 52% of the combined company, and TSYS shareholders will own 48%.

HOME PRICES

US home prices rise at slowest pace in 6½ years

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. home prices rose at the slowest pace in more than six years in March, a sign weaker sales are keeping a lid on price increases. The home price index rose 2.7% from a year earlier, down from an annual gain of 3% in February.

Price gains in formerly red-hot cities such as Seattle and San Francisco have noticeably cooled. Nationwide, home price increases have run ahead of wage growth for five years, leaving many homes out of reach. That has slowed sales, forcing would-be sellers to rein in price increases.

The 20-city price index has fallen sharply from a year ago, when it increased 6.7%. For example, Seattle’s home prices rose 1.6% in March from a year ago, but that’s down from the 13% March gain in 2018.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

US consumer confidence hits highest level since November

WASHINGTON (AP) _ American consumers felt more confident this month, shrugging off a rocky stock market and heightened trade tensions between the United States and China. The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index rose to 134.1 in May up from 129.2 in April. It’s the highest reading since November.

The index measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both improved in May. Americans’ evaluation of today’s economy hit the highest level since December 2000.

Their optimism reflects a healthy job market and an unemployment rate near a 50-year low.

OPIOID LAWSUIT-OKLAHOMA

Trial in Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid makers underway

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The nation’s first state trial against drugmakers blamed for contributing to the opioid crisis is now underway in Oklahoma. Opening arguments started today with Oklahoma’s Attorney General saying powerful painkillers led to the “worst manmade public health crisis” in U.S. history.

Drugmakers deny those claims. Lawyers for consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson and several of its subsidiaries are expected to start making their case later today. The trial could bring to light documents and testimony that show what the companies knew, when they knew it and how they responded.

The outcome could also shape negotiations on how to resolve the roughly 1,500 opioid lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments. Those have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.

NUCLEAR POWER

International Energy Agency: nuclear needed for climate goal

BERLIN (AP) _BERLIN (AP) — The International Energy Agency says the premature closure of nuclear power plants and failure to build new ones could make it harder to meet global targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Many environmental campaigners are opposed to the use of nuclear power because of the risks from power station accidents and the cost of safely disposing of spent nuclear fuel.

The IEA said advanced economies are expected to lose 25% of their nuclear capacity by 2025 and up to two thirds by 2040. It said a “drastic increase” in wind and solar energy would be needed to counter the shortfall.

MACKENZIE BEZOS-GIVING PLEDGE

MacKenzie Bezos pledges half her fortune to charity

UNDATED (AP) _ MacKenzie Bezos is pledging half her fortune to charity, following in the footsteps of billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

The ex-wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos finalized her divorce in April and reportedly got a stake in the online shopping giant worth over $35 billion.

The Giving Pledge was started in 2010 by 40 of the wealthiest people in the U.S. It involves billionaires pledging more than half of their wealth to charitable causes either while they are alive or in their wills.

BEYOND MEAT-EUROPE

Beyond Meat opens first production plant outside US

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) _ Plant-based meat company Beyond Meat is opening its first production facility outside the U.S. The California-based company is partnering with Dutch meat producer Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat. Zandbergen will make Beyond Meat products starting next year at a new facility in the Netherlands.

Beyond Meat shares rose nearly 8% to $85.85 Tuesday morning. Its share price has more than tripled since its initial public offering earlier this month.

Europe is seeing growing demand for meat alternatives accounting for nearly 40% of global sales of plant-based meats in 2017, according to Allied Market Research. Beyond Meat could face some trouble from European Union regulators, who are considering banning plant-based meat producers from using words like “meat” and “burger.”

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