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Update on the latest in business:

April 4, 2019


Asian shares waver following lackluster Wall St session

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia today, with the Shanghai Composite jumping 0.7% on reports of possible progress in China-U.S. trade talks.

The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks Wednesday, aiming to further narrow differences in an ongoing trade war that has deepened uncertainty for businesses and investors and cast a pall over the outlook for the global economy. The talks followed meetings last week in Beijing.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.1% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5%. The Kospi in South Korea edged 0.2% higher. India’s Sensex lost 0.2% to 38,814.73 and shares fell in Thailand and Singapore.

On Wall Street yesterday, the S&P 500 index added 0.2% to 2,873.40 and is about 2% shy of its most recent all-time high reached on Sept. 20. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% to 26,218.13. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, gained 0.6% to 7,895.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 0.5% to 1,560.91.


UK lawmakers vote to avert ‘no-deal’ Brexit

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s House of Commons has by the narrowest of margins approved a bill designed to guarantee that the country can’t leave the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.

The U.K. has until April 12 to approve a divorce deal, come up with a new plan or crash out of the 28-nation bloc without a deal, causing huge disruption for people and businesses in Britain and the EU.

Lawmakers approved by 313-312 a bill that requires Prime Minister Theresa May to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline if Britain is on the verge of a no-deal exit.

The bill still needs approval from the unelected House of Lords, which is likely.

The law does not compel the EU to agree to a delay.


Researchers find more cases of Facebook app data exposure

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Security researchers have uncovered more instances of Facebook user data being publicly exposed on the internet, further underscoring its struggles as it deals with a slew of privacy problems.

The researchers from the firm UpGuard said in a blog post Wednesday that the data, which included user names and passwords, came from two different Facebook apps that stored their data publicly on Amazon’s cloud services. Facebook says the databases have been taken down.

But the episode illustrates Facebook’s issues with controlling its users’ data, especially once it is in the hands of third-party developers.

The databases were from a Mexico-based media company called Cultura Colectiva, which included more than 540 million records — like user comments and likes — and from an app called At the Pool.


Federal agency to investigate Texas chemical fire

CROSBY, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Chemical Safety Board says it will investigate a fire at a Houston area chemical plant that killed one worker and injured two others.

The Chemical Safety Board said Wednesday it will join other agencies probing the cause of Tuesday’s blaze at a KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston.

The safety board, an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical incidents, is also probing the March 17 blaze at a petrochemical storage facility in nearby Deer Park .

Rachel Moreno, with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, says her agency’s investigators haven’t been able to enter the plant because of ongoing clean up and emergency operations.

Harris County officials say ongoing air monitoring shows no health risks to the area around the plant.


Troubled California utility names new chief executive, board

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A troubled California utility has named a new chief executive and board members amid a bankruptcy proceeding.

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. announced Wednesday it has chosen Bill Johnson as its president and named 10 new directors to its board. Johnson was most recently head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a publicly owned utility.

A board meeting will be held “as soon as practicable” to seat the new board and it will stand for election at a May shareholders meeting. Three current board members are remaining.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom says the new board includes too many people with Wall Street ties and few California connections.

The San Francisco-based utility has been under fire for its equipment’s role in sparking deadly California wildfires and for its overall approach to safety.


Tesla’s output slowed to 77,100 vehicles in the 1st quarter

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tesla’s assembly lines slowed down during a rocky start to the new year, which will likely magnify nagging doubts about whether the electric car pioneer will be able to make the leap into mass market.

The Palo Alto, California, company churned out 77,100 vehicles from January to March, well behind the pace that Tesla must sustain to fulfill CEO Elon Musk’s pledge to manufacture 500,000 cars annually.

The first-quarter production figures announced late Wednesday lagged the 86,555 vehicles that Tesla manufactured during the final three months of last year when the company was scrambling to make more cars.


Nissan’s ex-chair Ghosn arrested

TOKYO (AP) —The lawyer for former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn (gohn) has slammed his client’s latest arrest as “hostage justice” and stressed that Ghosn met the conditions for release on bail from detention.

Ghosn was arrested first in November and was released last month after a Tokyo court found he was not a flight risk and would not tamper with evidence in his financial misconduct case.

Ghosn’s attorney says the latest arrest today was motivated by a desire to pressure Ghosn and would hurt the legal team’s effort to prepare for the trial.

The attorney told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan that “This goes against what is defined by law. This should never be allowed.” He said prosecutors had prevented Ghosn from speaking at a news conference next week and instead would release a video soon.


Disney presents a united front with Fox at CinemaCon

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Walt Disney Studios is presenting a united and integrated front with the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight teams at CinemaCon.

Disney chairman Alan Horn says even he was still internalizing the magnitude of the acquisition, which brings cinematic franchises such as the X-Men and the Avengers under one studio for the first time.

Disney presented to an audience of theater owners and exhibitors whose businesses will be affected by the change in the distribution landscape at the annual convention.

The consolidation is not without some issues, however. Some of Disney’s 2019 movies currently have the same release dates as Fox titles. Disney’s distribution president says that adjustments will be made.

The first calendar conflict comes on April 17 when “Breakthrough” opens against Disney’s “Penguins.”