Update on the latest business
Stocks plunge again
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are plunging again as the arrest of a senior Chinese technology executive threatened to worsen trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.
A steep drop in Boeing, which would suffer in an extended trade battle, helped drag the Dow Jones Industrial Average down as much as 600-plus points.
Traders shoveled money into bonds, a signal they see weakness in the economy ahead.
The price of oil fell 3.8 percent as OPEC leaders gathered to discuss production cuts, which traders suspect may not reverse a plunge in crude.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.84 percent.
Survey: US businesses added a solid 179,000 jobs last month
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses hired new workers at a solid pace in November, adding 179,000 jobs, according to a private survey.
Payroll processor ADP says last month’s job gains slowed from October’s strong showing of 225,000. Still, November’s hiring is enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.
ADP said that job gains were strong in health care, which added 37,000 jobs, and in hotels and restaurants, which gained 26,000. Construction gained 10,000 positions while manufacturing added just 4,000.
The report Thursday arrives a day before the government releases its official jobs numbers. Economists forecast that they will show employers added 195,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate will remain at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent.
Record imports push US trade gap to $55.5 billion in October
WASHINGTON (AP) — Record imports in October drove the U.S. trade deficit to the highest level in a decade.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that the gap between what the United States sells and what it buys from foreign countries rose to $55.5 billion in October, the fifth straight increase and the highest since October 2008.
The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 7.1 percent to a record $43.1 billion. The goods gap with the European Union widened 65.5 percent to a record $17.6 billion.
Led by shipments of medicine and cars, overall imports rose 0.2 percent to a record $266.5 billion. Exports fell 0.1 percent to $211 billion.
President Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to slash America’s trade deficit. But the deficit this year is running 11.4 percent above January-October 2017.
US average mortgage rates fall; 30-year loan at 4.75%
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates are lower this week amid a steep decline in stock prices.
Continued slides in the stock market and tumbling oil prices have been pushing mortgage rates down, although home borrowing rates remain much higher than a year ago. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 4.75 percent from 4.81 percent last week. The key rate stood at 3.94 percent a year ago.
The rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans declined to 4.21 percent from 4.25 percent the previous week.
US household wealth jumps $2T, led by rising stock market
WASHINGTON (AP) — A stock market rally, which has since reversed, propelled U.S. household net worth to a record high of $109 trillion in the July-September quarter.
The Federal Reserve says the value of Americans’ stock and mutual fund holdings soared $1.2 trillion. Home values rose $200 billion. Other assets, such as bank accounts, also increased. Total net worth climbed $2 trillion from nearly $107 trillion in the April-June quarter.
Greater household wealth can help the economy by lifting consumer spending. Yet wealth has been increasingly concentrated since the Great Recession, with just 10 percent of U.S. population owning 84 percent of stocks.
The figure reflects the value of assets like homes, bank accounts and stocks minus debts like mortgages and credit cards. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation or population growth.
China demands Canada release Huawei executive
BEIJING (AP) — China’s foreign ministry has demanded Canada release a top executive at Chinese telecom giant Huawei (wah-way) Technologies who has been detained while in transit, and reveal the reasoning behind her arrest.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Thursday that China was in contact over the case of Meng Wanzhou with both Canada and the U.S., which requested her detention on suspicion of trying to evade U.S. curbs on trade with Iran.
Geng also said Meng’s legal rights must be ensured. He said neither Canada or the U.S. had so far responded to China’s concerns.
Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day President Donald Trump met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Argentina.
OPEC output decision delayed until Russia talks
VIENNA (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s energy minister says OPEC nations have not yet been able to decide upon a possible production cut and is expressing skepticism about when an agreement will be reached.
Leaving a day-long meeting Thursday when an agreement was expected to have been reached, Khalid al-Falih told reporters “we’re still deliberating.” OPEC countries will on Friday meet with Russia to negotiate its contribution to the overall cuts.
Going in to the day he said Saudi Arabia was eyeing a cut of 1 million barrels per day as “adequate” to respond to recent declines in oil prices, with each country cutting an equal percentage.
Afterward, when asked if the 1 million barrel target was still roughly the same, he said “probably,” but added the countries were “still debating distribution, participation.”
The countries were set to meet again on Friday, but al-Falih said he was “not confident” an agreement would be reached then.
White House hosts tech execs Thursday
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is hosting what it calls a listening session to hear from tech leaders including the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm.
The Thursday lunch meeting will address efforts to advance American leadership in artificial intelligence, wireless technology and quantum computing and how that will affect jobs and the economy.
The gathering comes amid strained tensions between President Donald Trump and the tech industry over the U.S.-China trade war and other topics. The president isn’t likely to attend but his daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, is organizing it.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, IBM CEO Gini Rometty, Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz and Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf are among the expected attendees.
Also attending are former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and academic leaders.
Obama health law sign-ups lagging for 2019
WASHINGTON (AP) — With open enrollment ending next week, the government says sign-ups for coverage under former President Barack Obama’s health care law are lagging when compared with last year.
Figures released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that about 3.2 million people have signed up so far for subsidized private insurance, compared with about 3.6 million at the same time last year. Open enrollment ends Dec. 15.
Health law supporters are concerned. The number of new customers is down nearly 18 percent.
Many Democrats blame the Trump administration for the slippage, but independent experts say there may be other reasons, too. In a strong economy people are more likely to find jobs with coverage.
Most of the estimated 10 million currently enrolled will have their coverage renewed automatically.
Drug company Actelion to pay $360M in kickback probe
BOSTON (AP) — A pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay $360 million to resolve allegations that it used a charitable foundation to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Boston announced the settlement Thursday with Actelion Pharmaceuticals US Inc., which was acquired last year by health care giant Johnson & Johnson.
Federal prosecutors say South San Francisco-based Actelion illegally used a purportedly independent charity to cover the co-payments of thousands of Medicare patients taking its pulmonary arterial high blood pressure drugs.
Prosecutors say that helped the company convince patients to buy its drugs when the prices it set would have otherwise prevented them from doing so. The U.S. attorney’s office says that violated the anti-kickback law.
A message was left with Actelion on Thursday seeking comment.
Sears’ biggest holder bids $4.6B for rest of bankrupt chain
UNDATED (AP) — Eddie Lampert and his ESL Holdings hedge fund are offering to buy the rest of Sears for up to $4.6 billion in cash and stock.
The Sears chairman and ESL own just under half of the Hoffman Estates, Illinois, company, according to FactSet. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, weighed down by years of declining sales and massive debt.
ESL Holdings said in a regulatory filing Thursday that its nonbinding offer for roughly 500 remaining Sears stores will keep about 50,000 employees working. The offer is subject to due diligence and ESL’s ability to get financing, among other things.
Coca-Cola names CEO Quincey as its chairman
ATLANTA (AP) — Coca-Cola Co. has named its president and CEO as chairman of the company’s board.
James Quincey will become chairman and CEO following Coke’s annual meeting in April.
The Atlanta company has already announced that longtime Coke executive Bryan Smith will become president and chief operations officer on Jan. 1.
Quincey replaces Muhtar Kent, who was Coke’s chairman and CEO from 2009 to 2017 and continued as chairman after Quincey became CEO. Kent is retiring after a 41-year career with Coke.
Coke also announced Thursday that former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia is leaving Coke’s board after 22 years, including the last five years as its lead independent director.
The board tapped businesswoman Maria Elena Lagomasino as its new lead independent director. She has been on Coke’s board since 2008.
Walgreens expands prescription delivery program nationwide
UNDATED (AP) — Walgreens is joining drugstore competitor CVS Health in expanding home deliveries for prescriptions nationwide, as stores continue adjusting to a retail world made more customer-friendly by online competition.
Walgreens said Thursday it will partner with FedEx to deliver prescriptions as soon as the next day for a $4.99 fee, and it also is providing same-day deliveries in several cities. The Deerfield, Illinois, company started offering deliveries in several markets last October.
CVS Health Corp. announced similar nationwide prescription deliveries last June.
Retailers have been breaking out more customer-friendly services in recent years to hold Amazon.com at bay. The online retailer offers members same-day deliveries of goods typically sold in drugstores in some places.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health both run more than 9,000 U.S. locations.
Lyft heads for initial public offering
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lyft is readying for an initial public offering of shares as it pushes toward becoming a publicly traded company.
The San Francisco ride-sharing service said Thursday that it confidentially submitted a draft registration statement for the proposed IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. The company was valued at just over $15 billion earlier this year.
EKG, other heart health features come to Apple Watch
NEW YORK (AP) — Apple Watch is now fulfilling its promise to let people take EKGs of their heart and notify them when they have an irregular heartbeat.
Apple announced the heart features in September, but didn’t make them available until Thursday. The new features have been given clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are for U.S. customers only.
The watch can intermittently check the wearer’s heart rhythm in the background and send a notification if it detects irregular heart rhythm. That can point to atrial fibrillation, a condition that can increase the risk of stroke and other complications.
When symptoms appear, users can also take an EKG, or electrocardiogram, and share that with doctors.
Apple is adding medical features to make the watch feel more useful to people.
Splits deepen as UN climate talks near crunch time
KATOWICE, Poland (AP) — Splits are deepening at the U.N. climate talks between rich and poor countries, oil exporters and vulnerable island nations, and those governments prepared for radical action on climate change versus those who want to wait and see.
As the meeting in Katowice, Poland, reached its fifth day, negotiators were divided over whether to expect a strong final agreement next week.
Amjad Abdulla, chief negotiating chair for the Alliance of Small Island States, said it was “depressing” that some rich countries are seeking similar leeway as developing nations when it comes to reporting emissions and efforts to curb them.
Diplomats and observers say a key fight in the coming days will be over whether to mention ‘policy pathways’ proposed by scientists to keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).