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Update on the latest in business:

October 9, 2018


Asian stocks mixed after IMF downgrades economic outlook

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets are mixed after the IMF downgraded its economic outlook, citing rising interest rates and mounting tensions over trade.

On Wall Street, Banks advanced and technology companies sank for the third day in a row on Monday. Bond markets were closed, leading U.S. indexes to a mixed finish after a day of light trading. The S&P 500 index edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,884.43, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 percent to 26,486.78. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.7 percent to 7,735.95. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 0.2 percent to 1,629.51.

The International Monetary Fund revised its outlook for the world economy, citing rising interest rates and growing tensions over trade. It said the global economy will grow 3.7 percent this year, the same as in 2017 but down from the 3.9 percent it was forecasting for 2018 in July.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington had a “fundamental disagreement” and “great concerns” about Chinese actions, before a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and another senior official in Beijing on Monday. Pompeo said that he was looking forward to discussions, but his polite, edgy tone shone a spotlight on deteriorating U.S.-China relations.

On Monday, Google said it will shut its Plus social network because a flaw may have caused the leak of personal information belonging to as many as 500,000 people. Google found the problem in March.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose above $74.50 a barrel.

The dollar slipped against the yen and the euro.


IMF downgrades outlook for world economy to 3.7 pct. growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund is downgrading its outlook for the world economy, citing rising interest rates and growing tensions over trade.

The IMF says the global economy will grow 3.7 percent this year, the same as in 2017 but down from the 3.9 percent it was forecasting for 2018 in July. It slashed its outlook for the 19 countries that use the euro currency and for Latin America, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The IMF expects the U.S. economy to grow 2.9 percent this year, fastest since 2005 and unchanged from the July forecast. But it predicts that U.S. growth will slow to 2.5 percent next year as the effect of recent tax cuts wears off and as President Donald Trump’s trade war with China takes a toll.


In boon for farmers, Trump lifting restrictions on ethanol

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol, a boon for Iowa and other farm states that have pushed for greater sales of the corn-based fuel.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce he is lifting a federal ban on summer sales of high-ethanol blends during a trip to Iowa on Tuesday.

The long-expected announcement is something of a reward to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman led a contentious but successful fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The veteran Republican lawmaker is the Senate’s leading ethanol proponent and sharply criticized the Trump administration’s proposed rollback in ethanol volumes earlier this year.

At that time Grassley threatened to call for the resignation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s chief, Scott Pruitt, if Pruitt did not work to fulfill the federal ethanol mandate. Pruitt later stepped down amid a host of ethics investigations.

A senior administration official said Monday that the EPA will publish a rule in coming days to allow high-ethanol blends as part of a package of proposed changes to the ethanol mandate. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump’s announcement.

The change would allow year-round sales of gasoline blends with up to 15 percent ethanol. Gasoline typically contains 10 percent ethanol.

The EPA currently bans the high-ethanol blend, called E15, during the summer because of concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days, a claim ethanol industry advocates say is unfounded.


Push to toughen foreign lobbying law stalls amid opposition

WASHINGTON (AP) — A push to give the Justice Department more enforcement authority over the lucrative and at times shadowy world of foreign lobbying is stalled amid opposition from pro-business groups, nonprofits and privacy advocates.

Organizations that range from the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have raised objections to legislation that would sharpen the teeth of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law, enacted 80 years ago to expose Nazi propaganda, requires people to disclose when they lobby in the U.S. on behalf of foreign governments or political entities.

While there’s bipartisan support for cracking down on unregistered foreign agents, several of the changes proposed in congressional bills could backfire by sweeping in a host of unintended targets, according to critics. That pushback has effectively kept the legislation from advancing as lobbying groups press for revisions.

One of the most contentious provisions would eliminate a popular loophole that permits lobbyists representing foreign commercial interests to be exempt from the law, known as FARA. That shift, one business group has warned, could extend the rigorous disclosure requirements to U.S. subsidiaries of global companies, stigmatizing them as foreign agents even though they employ thousands of Americans.

Congressional interest in fortifying the law comes in the aftermath of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and a special counsel investigation that’s drawn greater attention to the inner workings of international influence peddling.


2,700 workers at major Hawaii hotels join national strike

HONOLULU (AP) — Workers at some of Hawaii’s most iconic hotels are joining a national strike.

About 2,700 Marriott employees on Oahu and Maui on Monday joined the strike that began last week in Boston, San Francisco and other cities.

They work at five properties operated by Marriott. The properties are all owned by Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts and include The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a historic institution famous for its pink exterior.

Unite Here Local 5 union leaders say management hasn’t agreed to a demand that workers to be paid enough so they only need one job to support themselves.

Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts says it’s committed to good-faith bargaining and hopes to resolve the situation in a timely manner.

Waikiki Beach Marriott workers are not currently striking.


Pakistan to seek IMF loan to avert meltdown

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan says it will seek a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to address a mounting balance of payments crisis.

Finance Minister Asad Umar said Monday that he will hold talks with IMF officials later this month.

Analysts say Pakistan hopes to secure $8 billion in loans to avoid an economic meltdown. It also wants fresh loans from China, which has already invested heavily in roads and the energy sector.

After a visit last week, the IMF issued a report saying Pakistan is facing significant economic challenges, with declining growth, high fiscal and current account deficits, and low levels of international reserves.


Japanese tycoon going on SpaceX rocket says he trusts Musk

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese online retail tycoon who plans to travel to the moon on the SpaceX rocket says he respects and trusts Elon Musk as a fellow entrepreneur, despite his recent troubles.

“Twitter can get you into trouble,” Yusaku Maezawa, chief executive of Zozo Inc., said Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo. “And that can be said of Elon Musk, too.”

Musk’s tweet in August that declared he had secured financing for a Tesla buyout got him in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Under a settlement, Tesla and Musk each must pay a $20 million penalty. Musk also stepped down as Tesla’s chairman.

Maezawa, 42, who is also quite active on social media, is set to be a passenger on Musk’s Space X, the first-ever private commercial space trip, scheduled for blastoff in 2023, to orbit the moon, in what Maezawa has dubbed his ”#dearMoon Project.”

Maezawa said he got a good feel for Musk’s character by visiting Tesla, and seeing the relationship Musk had developed with his employees.


US bans new mining claims on public land near Yellowstone

EMIGRANT, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has approved a 20-year ban on new mining claims in the towering mountains north of Yellowstone National Park on Monday, after two proposed gold mines raised concerns that an area drawing tourists from the around the globe could be spoiled.

As Zinke signed the mineral ban at an outdoor ceremony in Montana’s Paradise Valley, a bank of clouds behind him broke apart to reveal the snow-covered flank of Emigrant Peak. The picturesque, 10,915-foot mountain has been at the center of the debate over whether mining should be allowed.

The former Montana congressman was joined by local business owners and residents who pushed for the ban after companies began drafting plans for new mines in an area frequented by wolves, elk, bears and other wildlife.

Monday’s action does not stop mining on private land or take away pre-existing mining claims on public lands.


Carbon tax gets renewed attention but still faces resistance

Advocates of taxing fossil fuels believe their position is stronger now because of an alarming new report on climate change and a Nobel Prize awarded to by two American economists, but neither development is likely to break down political resistance to a carbon tax.

Previous alarms about global warming met with resistance from Congress and the White House. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change last year.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of scientists brought together by the United Nations, warned in a report Monday that droughts, wildfires, coral reef destruction and other climate and environmental disasters could grow worse as soon as 2040, even with a smaller increase in temperatures than used to set the Paris targets.

A few hours later, the Nobel Prize in economics went to two Americans, including William Nordhaus of Yale University, who argues that carbon taxes would be the best way to address problems created by greenhouse-gas emissions.

A carbon tax is a charge imposed on the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, which produce carbon dioxide. The tax is designed to make users of those fuels pay for the environmental damage they cause.


Recovering addicts sue rehab boss for unpaid labor

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal lawsuit contends the operators of a North Carolina drug rehab program farmed out recovering addicts to work in adult care homes and restaurants and pocketed the wages for the labor they performed.

The lawsuit filed by Andrew Presson of Olney, Maryland, and Kimberly Myris of Pinehurst, North Carolina, contends they enrolled in a residential substance abuse recovery program run by Recovery Connections Community. The plaintiffs say they and others in recovery then worked up to 16 hours a day bathing patients, changing diapers and serving meals at businesses that contracted with Recovery Connections for labor.

The litigation seeks to recoup compensation for all rehab residents put to work by Recovery Connections and collect triple damages because the operation was unfair and deceptive by billing itself as a treatment provider.

The nonprofit news outlet Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting reported in May that Recovery Connections sent people with addictions to work for free as caregivers for elderly and disabled patients.


Netflix to bring new US production hub to New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Netflix has chosen New Mexico as the site of a new U.S. production hub and is in final negotiations to buy an existing multimillion-dollar studio complex on the edge of the state’s largest city, government and corporate leaders announced Monday.

It’s the company’s first purchase of such a property, and upcoming production work in Albuquerque and at other spots around New Mexico is forecast to result in $1 billion in spending over the next decade.

More than $14 million in state and local economic development funding is being tapped to bring Netflix to New Mexico. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, touted the investment and said lengthy efforts to put New Mexico on the movie-making map are paying off.


Trump posts losses at another Scottish golf resort

NEW YORK (AP) — A second Scottish golf resort owned by President Donald Trump is posting losses as his company faces a struggling economy and a backlash about his divisive comments and a struggling local economy.

A report from Britain’s Companies House shows that Trump’s golf resort near Aberdeen on the North Sea lost 1.3 million pounds last year. That’s $1.6 million at current exchange rates. That adds to a string of recent annual losses. The resort also took in slightly less revenue than the previous year.

The report comes days after Trump’s Turnberry resort on the Irish Sea posted millions of losses, too.

Trump’s company blamed its Aberdeen troubles on a dip in the local economy, but it has struggled there for years as regulators and local homeowners have objected to its development plans.

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