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Update on the latest in business:

September 26, 2018


Asian markets rally ahead of US Fed rate hike

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets rose on Wednesday as traders awaited a third interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve for this year.

U.S. benchmarks finished mixed on Tuesday as rising interest rates hurt stocks that pay big dividends. Higher oil prices pulled transportation and shipping companies lower. The S&P 500 index lost 0.1 percent to 2,915.56, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.3 percent to 26,492.21. The Nasdaq composite was 0.2 percent higher at 8,007.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.2 percent to 1,708.80.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected raise its benchmark interest rate to between 2-2.25 percent in its ninth increase since late 2015. Another increase is expected later this year, with more to come in 2019. Traders will also be keeping an eye on the Fed’s economic projections and Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference afterward. Stocks usually do well when the Fed starts to raise interest rates because the higher rates reflect solid economic growth, which is associated with strong company profits. But as the rate increases continue, in line with the Fed’s goal of keeping inflation in check, the effect on stocks can become negative as economic growth slows.

Oil futures fell after news that a weekend meeting of OPEC and its allies ended without an increase in production boosted prices. Benchmark U.S. crude fell but remains above $72 per barrel.

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


Clouds on horizon as trade wars, debt weigh on Asia’s growth

BANGKOK (AP) — The Asian Development Bank says trade conflicts, rising debt and the potential impact from rising interest rates in the U.S. will likely dampen growth in the coming year.

In an update of its regional economic outlook report, the Manila, Philippines-based regional lender said that it expects economic growth in Asia to remain at a robust 6.0 percent in 2018 but to slip to 5.8 percent next year.

China’s economy is expected to expand at a 6.6 percent annual pace this year but slow to 6.3 percent in 2019.

It cited looming financial and trade shocks as the biggest sources of potential trouble. If the U.S. economy shows signs of overheating, interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, including one expected Wednesday to take the benchmark rate to 2-2.25 percent, could disrupt currency markets and other capital flows, leading to problems with bad loans.

Overly high housing prices also are risks for China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea.

The report said the bigger threat comes from potential damage to supply chains caused by trade conflicts, especially between the U.S. and China.


Nike’s marketing strikes a chord without hurting business

NEW YORK (AP) — Nike caused an uproar earlier this month with its ad featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick that debuted just as the football season was about to begin. But the shoe maker’s stock is up and sales have been steady.

The furor seems to have largely died down and the company reported an earnings beat on Tuesday.

While purpose-driven marketing can be a land mine for some companies, others like Nike have found it a useful way to appeal to their core demographic and differentiate themselves in an increasingly polarized political landscape.

For the quarter ended Aug. 31, Nike’s net income rose 15 percent to $1.09 billion, or 67 cents per share, from $950 million, or 57 cents per share in the prior-year quarter. Analysts expected 63 cents per share. Revenue rose 10 percent to $9.95 billion, edging past analyst expectations of $9.93 billion, according to FactSet.

The results don’t have anything to do with the Kaepernick ad, which came out shortly after the quarter ended. Instead, the quarter benefited from the FIFA World Cup of soccer that showcased many players and teams wearing its clothing and shoes, as well as the “athleisure” trend that continues to be strong.

But Nike has long boosted its global brand with edgy visual ads. On Monday, it celebrated another controversial athlete, Tiger Woods, who Nike stuck by during a 2009 sex scandal.


Crack in beam shuts down San Francisco’s new $2B terminal

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco officials shut down the city’s celebrated new $2.2 billion transit terminal Tuesday after discovering a crack in a support beam under the center’s public roof garden.

Coined the “Grand Central of the West,” the Salesforce Transit Center opened in August near the heart of downtown after nearly a decade of construction. It was expected to accommodate 100,000 passengers each weekday, and up to 45 million people a year. People were moved out of the building Tuesday afternoon and buses were rerouted to a temporary area about two blocks away.

Enveloped in wavy white sheets of metal veil, the five-level center includes a bus deck, a towering sky-lit central entrance hall and a rooftop park with an outdoor amphitheater.


Environmental, tribal groups ask PUC to reconsider Line 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Environmental and tribal groups have asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its approval of Enbridge Energy’s plans to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The groups filed their requests Tuesday. Opponents contend the line does not meet permit criteria.

The Sierra Club, Youth Climate Intervenors, Friends of the Headwaters and Honor the Earth are among groups asking the PUC to reconsider its decision.

In June, the commission gave Enbridge the green light to replace Line 3. But a PUC meeting to discuss whether Enbridge met conditions was postponed earlier this month after being disrupted by protesters.

Native American and environmental activists contend the new line risks spills in fragile areas. Canadian-based Enbridge says the old line is increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking.


4th Circuit halts pipeline work in national forest land

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has halted work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through stretches of national forest land.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday granted a request from environmental groups to stay National Forest Service decisions allowing construction on about 20 miles of the 600-mile route.

Environmental groups requested the stay while a challenge to the forest service approvals is pending. The court is scheduled to hear arguments Friday. Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby says the forest service conducted a thorough review and the court’s ruling won’t have a “significant impact” on the construction schedule.


CBS taps media industry veteran Parsons as interim chairman

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS says it has named media industry veteran Richard Parsons as interim chairman of the board as the company moves to reshape itself following the ouster of longtime chief Les Moonves.

Parsons is the former chairman of Time Warner and Citicorp. He was added to the board of CBS earlier this month along with five others as the company pursues an independent investigation into Moonves.

Moonves resigned just after six women joined others who had previously accused the long-time television executive with sexual misconduct.


Bill overhauling songwriter royalties heads to Trump’s desk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation to substantially overhaul the way music is licensed and songwriters compensated for songs online is being sent to the president’s desk for his signature.

Congress cleared the bill Tuesday, giving final passage to a rare bipartisan accord between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. It enjoyed wide support in both the House and Senate, and within the music industry. President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law.

It will license songs to companies that play music online. A nonprofit collective will then pay songwriters, including those who wrote pre-1970s classics before music copyrights protected their work.


Japan preschools using tablets to prep tots for digital age

YOSHIKAWA, Japan (AP) — For the kids, it’s all about having fun. Japanese preschool programs equipped with tablet computers aim to prepare kids for the digital age.

At a preschool outside Tokyo, toddlers use tablets to color birds and flowers that appear to come alive as 3-D computer graphics. Experts say the applications are meant to encourage creativity and collaboration, although they warn of the risks of relying too heavily on technology.

Coby Preschool, in a small town northeast of Tokyo, is among nearly 400 kindergartens and nursery schools in Japan that are using smartphone software applications designed especially for preschoolers called KitS.

That’s only about 1 percent of this nation’s kindergartens and nursery schools. But it’s a start. Coby is helping lead a national initiative in “digital play.”

Parents everywhere worry their children might fall behind, and Japan is no exception.

The government has recently made strengthening technology education national policy even as it struggles to meet its goal of supplying one digital device — computer or tablet — for every three children.

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