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Update on the latest in business:

March 6, 2019


Asian shares mostly higher as congress lifts Chinese markets

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian markets were mostly higher today, led by gains in Chinese markets as officials promised to enact measures to boost the economy and cool trade tensions.

The Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.5 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.6 percent as a stronger yen hurt shares of export manufacturers.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.2 percent. Shares rose in Indonesia and Taiwan but fell in Singapore and Thailand.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 index edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,789.65. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also lost 0.1 percent, to 25,806.63. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 7,576.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 0.5 percent to 1,568.28.


FDA chief Scott Gottlieb steps down after nearly 2 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is stepping down after nearly two years leading the agency’s response to a host of public health challenges, including the opioid epidemic, rising drug prices and underage vaping.

Gottlieb cited “the challenge of being apart” from his family” in Connecticut. He’ll leave next month.

President Donald Trump tapped Gottlieb in 2017 to “cut red tape” at the FDA. But Gottlieb bucked expectations by pushing the agency to expand its authorities in several key ways, including an unprecedented effort to make cigarettes less addictive by requiring lower nicotine levels.

The 46-year-old physician and former conservative pundit advanced his agenda while managing to maintain the support of the president, Republicans and key Democrats in Congress.


Ketamine-like drug approved for severe depression

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials have approved a medication related to the mind-altering drug ketamine as a new option for patients with severe depression.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday cleared the inhalable drug for patients who have failed to find relief with older antidepressants.

The new drug from Johnson & Johnson acts on different brain chemicals than decades-old antidepressants like Prozac. When it works, the new drug takes effect almost instantly.

The FDA will require J&J to track patients to better understand the drug’s safety and effectiveness.


Arizona prosecutor says Uber not criminally liable in crash

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona prosecutor has determined Uber is not criminally liable in a deadly crash last year involving a self-driving vehicle in a Phoenix suburb.

The prosecutor said an investigation found that a video of the collision does not accurately depict the events that occurred. The case was referred back to the Tempe Police Department for further investigation.

Video of the March 2018 crash shows a woman getting hit as she’s pushing a bicycle from a darkened area onto a street.

Experts say the vehicle’s sensors should have seen the woman and braked before impact. The SUV was in self-driving mode traveling about 40 mph. Uber’s human backup driver appears on the video to be looking down before the crash and appears startled about the time of the impact.


Dean resigns over school’s choice to not allow Chick-Fil-A

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. (AP) — A dean at a New Jersey university has resigned from her position over the school’s decision to not consider bringing Chick-fil-A to campus because of its opposition to the LGBT community.

Campus Reform, a conservative higher education news site, first reported that Cynthia Newman stepped down as dean of Rider University’s business college.

The university removed Chick-fil-A from a survey asking students to vote for new campus restaurants saying the chain’s values did not align with Rider’s. Newman said she reached out to officials for an apology but never got one.


Colorado, baker end legal spat over transgender woman’s cake

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds and state officials said Tuesday that they would end a separate legal fight over his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and attorneys representing Jack Phillips said they mutually agreed to end two legal actions, including a federal lawsuit Phillips filed accusing the state of waging a “crusade to crush” him by pursuing a civil rights complaint over the gender transition cake.


France to create a 3 percent tax on internet giants’ revenue

PARIS (AP) — The French government is unveiling plans to slap a 3 percent tax on the French revenues of internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is presenting the bill during today’s weekly Cabinet meeting before it heads to Parliament.

The bill outlines how digital companies with worldwide revenue over 750 million euros ($848 million) including French revenue over 25 million euros will be taxed.

Le Maire said in Le Parisien newspaper Sunday that about 30 companies, mostly based from the U.S, but also from China and Europe, will be affected.

He estimates it will raise about 500 million euros a year.

France decided to implement the tax after a similar proposal at the European Union level failed to get unanimous support from member states.


Former Nissan chairman Ghosn released after posting bail

TOKYO (AP) — The former chairman of Nissan Motor Co., Carlos Ghosn, appears to have left the Tokyo Detention Center after posting 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) bail.

Ghosn left the facility in disguise, wearing a surgical mask, glasses, a hat and a construction worker’s outfit. Ringed by security guards, he was driven away in a silver van and did not speak to the gaggle of reporters standing watch.

His man’s identity could not immediately be confirmed with authorities, but the resemblance was clear.

Ghosn, the former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance was arrested on Nov. 19. He’s charged with falsifying financial reports and with breach of trust.