Update on the latest in business:
Asian shares inch higher as investors eye corporate earnings
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian shares edged higher on Wednesday with scant leads from news headlines to move the markets. Investors are eyeing upcoming corporate earnings reports and U.S. politics for clues about the next Federal Reserve chair.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.1 percent while South Korea’s Kospi was nearly unchanged. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng outperformed the region, gaining 0.5 percent.
On Wall Street, U.S. stock markets finished with gains on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.2 percent to 2,569.13. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 0.7 percent to 23,441.76. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.2 percent to 6,598.43. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 0.2 percent to 1,500.42.
THE DAY AHEAD
Host of reports due Wednesday
WASHINGTON (AP) — Among economic reports due for released by the government later today is the Commerce Department’s analysis of durable goods for September, followed by a report on new home sales for the same month.
Germany’s Ifo Institute releases its monthly business confidence index, a key indicator for Europe’s biggest economy.
Boeing Co. reports quarterly financial results before the market opens. Pre-market opening performance reports are also due for Coca-Cola Co. and Visa, Inc.
Nissan executive bows to apologize for inspections scandal
TOKYO (AP) — Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci has bowed deeply for several seconds in a Japanese-style apology to express remorse for widespread illegal inspections at the automaker.
He apologized at the Nissan Motor Co. booth at the Tokyo Motor Show. He says an investigative team with a third party is trying to find out what happened and why to prevent a recurrence, before he switched to talking about new models.
This year’s show highlights smart and green vehicles that connect to the net and stop on their own before crashes.
But scandals, including another one at Kobe Steel that’s hit the entire industry, are casting a shadow over the festivities.
Reporters got a preview of the show Wednesday at Tokyo Big Sight hall, ahead of its opening to the public Saturday.
Toyota confirms scaling back of Mexico plant for truck needs
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. is confirming a planned Mexico auto plant is being scaled back, but a top executive says the decision is because of market needs and not a political move.
The investment for the Guanajuato plant, set to be running in 2019, will go down to $700 million from $1 billion announced in 2015, and annual production will decrease to half at 100,000, according to Toyota.
The initial plan was to build 200,000 Corolla subcompacts a year.
Executive Vice President Didier Leroy told reporters on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show Wednesday that the move is to increase truck production for the U.S. market and not to please anyone, an apparent reference to President Donald Trump.
Trump crowdsources GOP senators on choice for Fed chair
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump asked for a show of hands from Republican senators as he nears a decision on naming a new head of the Federal Reserve. It’s the most critical personnel choice affecting the economy that he’ll make in his presidency.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said that Trump made the request during a lunch with GOP senators at the Capitol on Tuesday.
The top candidates who are the subject of Trump’s crowdsourcing: current Fed Chair Janet Yellen; Fed board member Jerome Powell; and John Taylor, a Stanford University economist who advocates higher interest rates and is a favorite of some congressional Republicans.
Twitter to disclose info on political ads amid scrutiny
NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter says it will provide more information about political ads on its service, including who is funding them and how they are targeted.
The move follows similar steps by Facebook and the introduction of a bill to bring more transparency to online political ads in an attempt to lessen the influence of Russia and other foreign entities on U.S. elections. The bill would require social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to keep public records on election ads and meet the same disclaimer requirements as political broadcast and print advertising. Companies would have to make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that election ads are not purchased directly or indirectly by a foreign entity, something already prohibited by law.
Senate narrowly votes to repeal a pro-consumer banking rule
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-led Senate narrowly voted Tuesday night to repeal a banking rule that would let consumers band together to sue their bank or credit card company to resolve financial disputes.
Vice President Mike Pence cast the final vote to break a 50-50 tie. The banking industry had been lobbying hard to roll back the regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau had moved to ban most types of mandatory arbitration clauses found in the fine print of agreements consumers often enter into when opening a checking account or getting a credit card.
The vote reflects the effort of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to undo regulations that the GOP argues harms the free market. The measure now moves to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
INTERIOR-GULF OIL LEASES
Interior to offer largest oil and gas lease sale in US
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department says it will propose the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States — nearly 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The sale, scheduled for next March, includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, a reflection of the Trump administration’s strategy to maximize oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters.
Even so, only a small fraction of the tracts available are expected to receive bids. A similar lease sale in August drew bids on just 90 offshore tracts totaling about a half-million acres — less than 1 percent of the 76 million acres available.
Coal-export terminal backer sues state over permit denial
SEATTLE (AP) — A company proposing to build a terminal in Washington state to export U.S. coal to Asia has filed a suit against the state, arguing that regulators unfairly denied the project a key permit.
Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview’s lawsuit claims the state Department of Ecology violated federal and state laws when it denied the project a water quality certification last month.
The lawsuit filed in Cowlitz County Superior Court alleges the denial was based on “biased and prejudiced decision-making.”
The company also appealed the decision to a state shoreline hearings board.
EARNS-CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL
Chipotle turnaround stalls as food scares continued
NEW YORK (AP) — Despite the high-profile debut of its queso cheese dip, Chipotle is still struggling to turn its business around after a series of food safety scares. The burrito chain reported disappointing third-quarter results on Tuesday and its stock plummeted more than 9 percent in after-hours trading.
CEO Steve Ellis says, “It has been a challenging year and the third quarter was no exception.”
Chipotle has been working to convince customers that its food is safe since 2015, when its sales plunged after an E. coli outbreak. It has made some progress, but concerns rose again this summer after one of its restaurants in Virginia was temporarily closed after dozens of diners fell ill.
GOP lawmakers propose new conditions on health bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two top Republicans have announced a bill restoring federal subsidies to insurers while including tough conditions sought by the White House. Senate Democrats have enough votes to kill it, but the measure underscores the changes the Trump administration and congressional conservatives say they want in exchange for resuming the payments.
The proposal seeks changes in President Barack Obama’s health care law that go far further than provisions in bipartisan legislation that is stuck in the Senate. That compromise has stalled as President Donald Trump has flashed contradictory signals about whether he supports it and conservatives — especially in the House — have complained it doesn’t revamp Obama’s statute strongly enough.
Power grid operator protests Trump plan to aid coal, nuclear
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The nation’s biggest electric grid operator said a Trump administration plan to change the way electricity is priced to reward coal and nuclear power is both unworkable and potentially against the law.
PJM Interconnection, which operates the grid covering 65 million people from Illinois to Washington, D.C., submitted formal comments on the plan late Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In a conference call with reporters and industry analysts, PJM’s president and CEO, Andy Ott, said the plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry is not “workable.” Ott said that guaranteeing higher payments to coal, nuclear and other qualifying power plants would probably increase consumers’ electric bills, unless FERC found another source of money.
Caterpillar profit surges on equipment demand
NEW YORK (AP) — Caterpillar Inc.’s third-quarter profit surged on demand for construction equipment, topping Wall Street expectations.
The Peoria, Illinois-based company boosted its guidance, citing strong oil and gas markets in North America along with construction in China. Its shares surged, ending Tuesday up $6.56, or 5 percent, to $138.24.
Profit nearly quadrupled to $1.06 billion, or $1.77 per share. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs, came to $1.95 per share. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.22 per share.
Revenue surged 25 percent to $11.41 billion while six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $10.61 billion.
GM, other US industrial giants, hit all-time highs
DETROIT (AP) — Shares of General Motors hit an all-time high Tuesday as investors focused on a $2.5 billion third-quarter pretax profit and ignored a big accounting loss.
The Detroit automaker’s $3 billion net loss came from a $5.4 billion charge for selling Opel and Vauxhall to France’s PSA Group, which closed in August. But with that backed out and before taxes, the company made $1.32 per share, trouncing Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.11 per share.
Much of the accounting charge came from previous losses that GM can’t use to offset future tax obligations.
Revenue without Europe fell 14 percent to $33.6 billion, but that also beat expectations of $32.2 billion.
McDiscount: $1 soda, 2 for $5 deals lure more to McDonald’s
NEW YORK (AP) — Cheap soda and burgers have brought more people into McDonald’s.
The fast-food company said Tuesday that sales in the U.S. rose 4.1 percent at existing locations during the third quarter, thanks to $1 soft drinks, coupons on its app and a two-for-$5 promotion called McPick 2. And with more people coming in, McDonald’s said some also bought pricier burgers stuffed with crispy onions, kale or guacamole, which helped sales.
CEO Steve Easterbrook said, “We are serving more customers, more often.”
McDonald’s has been offering deals to fight off competition from other low-priced chains. The company said It plans to offer more cheap eats next year, with items priced at $1, $2 and $3.
Autism therapy provider gets $8M to stay, expand in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan has awarded $8 million for a growing autism therapy company to relocate its headquarters within the state. It’s an incentive that officials say was necessary to keep the business from moving to another state.
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the grant for Centria Healthcare, which is based in the Detroit suburb of Novi and operates in seven other states. It plans to spend $16.5 million to relocate to a larger site in nearby Farmington Hills, adding 1,200 jobs over five years. Farmington Hills will help recruit job candidates.
Centria CEO Scott Barry said the company was considering New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Tennessee for its new headquarters.
Mexico employers federation pushes for higher minimum wage
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The push to raise Mexico’s low wages has gotten some unusual champions.
The Mexican Employers’ Federation said the minimum wage should be raised 19 percent, to the equivalent of about $5 a day.
And telecom magnate Carlos Slim, Mexico’s richest man, told a business conference that “what has to be done is to substantially increase people’s incomes.” He called for a larger, better-paid middle class to stimulate Mexico’s internal market.
The issue of Mexican wages has become a sticking point in talks with the United States and Canada on the North American Free Trade Agreement because of accusations that Mexico has unfairly attracted industry by keeping wages low.