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Update on the latest in business:

August 30, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks mixed as weak dollar weighs on US economic data

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mixed Thursday as positive sentiment from U.S. economic data and the country’s willingness to strike a trade deal with Canada was shaken by a weaker dollar.

Gains by big technology companies and Amazon took U.S. indexes higher on Wednesday. Stocks have rallied for four days as investors grew more hopeful about trade talks between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The S&P 500 index closed 0.6 percent higher at 2,914.04, a record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent to 26,124.57 and the Nasdaq composite jumped 1 percent to a record 8,109.69. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 0.4 percent to 1,734.75.

The U.S. economy grew at a strong 4.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the best showing in nearly four years. The Commerce Department said strength in business investment offset slightly slower consumer spending, placing growth on track to produce the country’s strongest full-year gain in more than a decade. Economists expect growth to slow to a still-solid 3 percent annual rate the rest of the year, resulting in full-year growth of 3 percent for 2018.

President Donald Trump has said that efforts to reach a deal with Canada in the new North American Free Trade Agreement were “probably on track”. The longtime U.S. ally and the country’s second-largest trading partner after China had been left out of talks for the past five weeks. Canada has until Friday to reach a deal.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $69.50 per barrel.

The dollar eased against the yen and declined against the euro.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports today

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department releases its July report on consumer spending today. That spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Also, Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates.

EPA-POWER PLANTS

EPA rethinking air pollution rule for power plants

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is rethinking a 2012 rule limiting mercury emissions and other pollutants from power plants.

EPA spokeswoman Molly Block says the agency proposal is still a draft and that there are few details to release.

The 2012 rule established federal limits for mercury and some other toxic pollutants from fossil fuel power plants.

Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee are urging the EPA to keep the 2012 limits in place, saying the rules has cut mercury emissions from power plants by 90 percent.

The EPA announced earlier this month that it is moving to relax federal oversight of emissions from coal-fired power plants.

GASOLINE PRICES

AAA sees US average gasoline price dipping to around $2.70

UNDATED (AP) — Steady oil prices and the end of strong summer demand should start pushing gasoline prices down.

The auto club AAA predicts that the national average will drop 14 cents to $2.70 a gallon this fall.

The current average of $2.84 is up 46 cents from a year ago, but down from the peak national average of $2.96 a gallon in May. AAA says motorists in the West and in Pennsylvania and Connecticut pay even more — over $3.

Relief could be coming. Benchmark U.S. crude is around $69 a barrel — that’s up sharply from a year ago but down $5 a barrel since early July.

Also, refineries are expected to switch in mid-September to winter-blend gasolines, which are cheaper to produce than summer blends.

WASTE MANAGEMENT-IMMIGRANT WORKERS

Waste Management to pay $5.5 million over immigrant labor

HOUSTON (AP) — Waste Management has agreed to pay the federal government $5.5 million to settle allegations that it made a practice of using labor in the U.S. illegally.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston said Wednesday that a Waste Management subsidiary employed at least three managers at a West Texas waste site who actively encouraged the hiring of workers in the country illegally between 2003 and April 2012.

Homeland Security investigators found 16 such workers at the Afton, Texas, site. At least 100 workers in company records were verified as fraudulently documented or using identities not belonging to them.

In a statement, Houston-based Waste Management says it was unaware of the situation until alerted by federal officials. It says the three managers were fired and its relationship terminated with a temporary staffing agency.

The company is North America’s leading waste collection and disposal provider.

BRITAIN-DYSON-ELECTRIC CAR

Vacuum maker Dyson plans expansion for UK electric car site

LONDON (AP) — Dyson, the British company best known for its ground-breaking vacuum cleaners, says it has submitted a planning application to expand facilities at a former British military airfield to develop electric vehicles.

The company said Thursday it plans to build more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) of test tracks at the former Hullavington Airfield in southern England. The cars are expected to launch in 2021.

It also plans new office buildings for more than 2,000 staff that will eventually be employed at the site.

Billionaire founder James Dyson, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, has been a prominent advocate of Brexit. However, he has faced criticism for moving much of the firm’s production to Asia.

The company said it will invest 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) in its electric car program.

MICRON EXPANSION

Memory chip maker Micron announces $3B expansion in Manassas

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — One of the world’s largest semiconductor companies is making a $3 billion investment in northern Virginia to expand its manufacturing facility and add 1,100 jobs.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the expansion plans for Micron Technology at an event Wednesday in Manassas.

Boise, Idaho-based Micron decided to expand its existing facility in Manassas after considering offers from competing domestic and international locations, including Singapore.

State economic development officials say Micron’s expansion is the largest private-sector capital investment in modern Virginia history.

Micron’s decision comes as northern Virginia continues to court Amazon as it seeks a location for a $5 billion headquarters that could employ as many as 50,000.

About 1,200 people currently work at the Manassas plant, which builds memory chips and other digital storage devices.

FILM-TOP GUN SEQUEL

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ pushed, ‘A Quiet Place’ sequel sets date

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The “Top Gun” sequel is going to take a little longer to land in theaters.

Paramount Pictures says Wednesday that “Top Gun: Maverick” is being pushed back a year to a June 26, 2020 theatrical release. The Tom Cruise-starrer is in production and had been previously set to fly into theaters next summer.

The studio has also set a May 15, 2020 release date for a sequel to John Krasinski’s breakout creature thriller “A Quiet Place.” Kraskinsi is writing the follow-up, but no director has been set.

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