FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asia stocks fall to start week, following Wall Street losses

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets fell Monday after a steep decline in the U.S. technology sector weighed on Wall Street at the end of the week despite data showing the economy was growing.

Technology stocks led a slide in U.S. stocks on Friday, adding to the market's losses from another tech-driven sell-off a day earlier. The S&P 500 index slid 0.7 percent to 2,818.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 percent to 25,451.06. The Nasdaq composite index, which is heavily weighted with technology companies, tumbled 1.5 percent to 7,737.42. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 1.9 percent to 1,663.34.

The U.S. economy accelerated in last quarter at an annual rate of 4.1 percent, its best showing since 2014.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil crept up but remained below $69 per barrel.

The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.

TRUMP-STEEL TARIFF

US firms seeking Trump's steel tariff waiver face a backlash

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies seeking to be exempted from President Donald Trump's tariff on imported steel are accusing American steel manufacturers of spreading inaccurate and misleading information, and they fear it may torpedo their requests.

Robert Miller, president and CEO of NLMK USA, said objections raised by U.S. Steel and Nucor to his bid for a waiver are "literal untruths." He said his company, which imports huge slabs of steel from Russia, has already paid $80 million in duties and will be forced out of business if it isn't excused from the 25 percent tariff. U.S. Steel and Nucor are two of the country's largest steel producers.

Miller employs more than 1,100 people at mills in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Miller's resentment, echoed by several other executives, is evidence of the backlash over how the Commerce Department is evaluating their requests to avoid the duty on steel imports. They fear the agency will be swayed by opposition from U.S. Steel, Nucor and other domestic steel suppliers that say they've been unfairly hurt by a glut of imports and back Trump's tariff.

U.S. Steel said its objections are based on detailed information about the dimensions and chemistry of the steel included in the requests.

MEDICARE FOR ALL-COST

Study: 'Medicare for all' bill estimated at $32.6 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for all" plan would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to a study by a university-based libertarian policy center.

That's trillion with a "T."

The latest plan from the Vermont independent would require historic tax increases as government replaces what employers and consumers now pay for health care, according to the analysis being released Monday by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. It would deliver significant savings on administration and drug costs, but increased demand for care would drive up spending, the analysis found.

Sanders' plan builds on Medicare, the popular insurance program for seniors. All U.S. residents would be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be relegated to a minor role.

Responding to the study, Sanders took aim at the Mercatus Center, which receives funding from the conservative Koch brothers. Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch is on the center's board.

Also called "single-payer" over the years, "Medicare for all" reflects a long-time wish among liberals for a government-run system that covers all Americans.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Business and economic reports scheduled for the coming week:

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's only one major economic report due out today.

It's the National Association of Realtors pending home sales index for June.

Tomorrow, the Commerce Department issues its report on personal income and spending during June.

Also on Tuesday, Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of May home prices, and the Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for July.

Federal Reserve policymakers also begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates.

ECONOMY

Officials say fast growth to continue, Trump respects Fed

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's top economic policymakers insisted Sunday that the robust growth marked in the April-June quarter will maintain its pace and that he respects the Federal Reserve's independence despite his condemnation of the central bank for raising interest rates.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday" — quote- "We as an administration absolutely support the independence of the Fed, and the president has made it clear that this is the Fed's decision." According to Mnuchin, Trump's critical statements "are really more just comments saying as interest rates are going up, it's something that the president has a concern" about.

The Fed isn't expected to announce a rate increase when its latest policy meeting ends Wednesday. But the central bank is widely anticipated to set the stage for tightening credit again in September for a third time this year and then to likely raise rates again by December. The Fed has raised rates twice this year in response to strong growth, low unemployment and a slight rise in inflation.

KOCH-TARIFFS

Charles Koch warns Trump trade war could trigger recession

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch warned Sunday that Trump administration trade policies could trigger a recession.

The conservative activist lashed out at the Republican president's brewing international trade war as hundreds of donors gathered for a private retreat in the Colorado mountains.

Koch told reporters during a rare question-and-answer session that "protectionism at any level" is "detrimental."

He said, Trump's approach could lead to a recession "if it's severe enough,"

The administration has imposed billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese and Canadian goods and threatened billions more on America's allies in Europe. The White House last week announced plans to send $12 billion in taxpayer dollars to U.S. farmers to help ease the economic fallout.

The conservative Koch network, which has broken with Trump on immigration, government spending and trade, is promising to punish politicians in either party who support the tariffs.

Asked to respond to Koch's remarks, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters cast Trump as "a free trader."

Walters said ,"He believes that the best way forward is for all countries to get rid of unfair practices and move toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies."

GAS PRICES

Average price of US gas slips 3 cents, to $2.91 a gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average price of regular-grade gasoline in the U.S. fell 3 cents over the past two weeks to $2.91.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the average price is 59 cents higher than it was one year ago.

Lundberg says the drop comes mostly from lower crude oil prices and generally weak demand for gas across the U.S.

The highest average price in the contiguous 48 states was $3.71 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lowest was $2.50 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The U.S. average diesel price is $3.17, also down 3 cents.

FACEBOOK PRIVACY SCANDAL

UK committee issues scathing report on Facebook

LONDON (AP) — A British parliamentary committee says the government should increase oversight of social media like Facebook and election campaigns to protect democracy in the digital age.

The recommendation will be made Sunday in a scathing report on fake news, data misuse and interference by Russia.

The interim report by the House of Commons' media committee said democracy is facing a crisis because the combination of data analysis and social media allows campaigns to target voters with messages of hate without their consent.

Tech giants like Facebook, which operate in a largely unregulated environment, are complicit because they haven't done enough to protect personal information and remove harmful content, the committee said.

Committee Chairman Damian Collins says, "The light of transparency must be allowed to shine on their operations."

FILM-BOX OFFICE

'Mission: Impossible — Fallout' shoots to No. 1

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Audiences turned out this weekend to see Tom Cruise in his sixth run as Ethan Hunt in "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," which easily took the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office.

Studios on Sunday estimate that "Fallout" earned $61.5 million from 4,386 North American theaters. Not accounting for inflation, it's a best for the series which has grossed over $2.8 billion worldwide and one of Cruise's biggest too.

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" placed second with $15 million, while "The Equalizer 2" fell to third with $14 million and "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" took fourth with $12.3 million.

The animated "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" was the only film to open against "Fallout." The Warner Bros. release earned $10.5 million and landed in fifth place.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-WEINSTEIN

Harvey Weinstein's insurers balk at paying his legal bills

NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein is locked in a messy battle with insurance companies over his steadily mounting legal bills.

The insurance giant Chubb and others carriers that wrote liability policies for Weinstein and his film company are arguing in court that they don't cover allegations of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein's attorneys say the insurers are supposed to pay for his legal defense, but have unfairly sided with women who have filed a slew of sexual harassment lawsuits against him.

They want the civil litigation halted until his criminal case is resolved.

The judge hasn't made a final ruling.

SPORTS-SOCIAL FALLOUT

Old ballplayer tweets highlight team fears of social media

UNDATED (AP) — Publicist Lauren Walsh recalls how she dealt with a football player who had offensive Facebook posts years before he prepared for the NFL draft.

She went through his whole social media history, taking down anything that even raised an eyebrow.

MLB pitchers Sean Newcomb and Josh Hader along with shortstop Trea Turner are three of the latest high-profile athletes to burn themselves with reckless social media posts as they apologize for years-old racist, sexist and homophobic tweets.

The trend touches many young athletes with millions of posts from thousands of athletes who've been online since they were kids.

The mistakes by Hader, Newcomb and Turner will be discussed by athletic departments, professional teams, agents and handlers looking to protect themselves and their players. And vetting is expected to get more rigid as teams evaluate multimillion-dollar investments.

FOOD PLANT-AMMONIA LEAK

Ammonia leak at Wisconsin plant sends workers to hospitals

VILLAGE OF DARIEN, Wis. (AP) — Authorities say 15 people were taken to hospitals after an ammonia leak at a Birds Eye food plant in southeastern Wisconsin.

Multiple agencies responded early Sunday to the plant in the Village of Darien.

Authorities say 140 people were working overnight at the factory when alarms and sensors started going off. Ammonia is used at the facility for the freezing and cooling of food.

A hazardous materials team official says 15 people were taken to five area hospitals. New Jersey-based Pinnacle Foods, which owns Birds Eye, said Sunday night that most have been released, while three people remain under observation.

Seventy-five workers were checked at the scene and released. The Janesville Gazette reports authorities suspect a "mechanical malfunction" led to the leak.

Officials say there is no threat to the community.

NATIONAL LOBSTER DAY

New England senators seek to designate National Lobster Day

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. senators from New England want to grant the lobster another national day of celebration.

They've introduced a resolution to again designate Sept. 25 as National Lobster Day to honor the economic, historic, cultural and culinary contributions of lobsters.

The resolution is being led by Maine's U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, who say it honors not only the lobsters but also the people who harvest, ship and cook them.

Rhode Island's U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says he expects the full Senate to again unanimously approve it as a fun, tasty way to honor lobstermen and their catch.

Maine led the nation in American lobster landings in 2016 with 132 million pounds (60 million kilograms) valued at nearly $540 million, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.