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Update on the latest business

February 8, 2019

FINANCIAL-MARKETS

Stocks fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling on Wall Street this afternoon as traders remain worried about trade tensions between the U.S. and China and slower economic growth globally.

Bank and energy companies are leading the way lower. JPMorgan Chase fell 1.6 percent and Exxon Mobil lost 1.2 percent. Goodyear plunged 9.3 percent after the company turned in results that fell short of what analysts were looking for.

The S&P 500 is on pace to close out its second down week in the last three, following a tumultuous two months where the index followed up its worst December since 1931 with its best January in three decades.

Mattel bucked the trend, leaping more than 20 percent after reporting a bigger-than-expected profit for its latest quarter.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.63 percent.

AIR BAGS-RECALL

Automakers recall 1.7 million cars with fatal airbags

NEW YORK (AP) — Subaru, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler Vans, Mercedes and Ferrari are recalling about 1.7 million vehicles to replace potentially deadly air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. of Japan.

The inflators can hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 23 people have died from the problem worldwide and hundreds more were injured.

The moves, announced Friday by the U.S. government, are part of the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history. About 10 million inflators are being recalled in the U.S. this year, with as many as 70 million to be recalled by the time the whole mess ends late next year.

Ford, Honda, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler already released their 2019 Takata recalls totaling more than 5 million vehicles.

JEFF BEZOS-NATIONAL ENQUIRER

Prosecutors probing tabloid’s Bezos story

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors in New York are probing whether the National Enquirer’s parent company violated a cooperation agreement in its handling of the story regarding Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Bezos claims American Media Inc. threatened to publish intimate photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the tabloid obtained his private exchanges with his mistress.

Two people familiar with the matter tell The Associated Press that prosecutors are looking at whether an email exchange Bezos published shows AMI violated an agreement it struck to avoid prosecution for alleged campaign finance violations. The people were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The agreement requires AMI commit no crimes for three years. AMI did not respond to requests for comment.

RUSSIA-GOOGLE

Reports: Russian authorities make deal with Google

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian news reports say that Google has agreed with national authorities to delete links to websites banned in Russia.

The daily Vedomosti reported Thursday that Google has reached an agreement with the Russian state media oversight agency, Roskomnadzor, to regularly receive updated lists of banned sites and delete links to them upon review. The newspaper says Google has already removed about 70 percent of the banned websites from its search results.

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Roskomnadzor as saying it has established a “constructive dialogue” with Google.

“We’re committed to enabling access to information for the benefit of our users in Russia and around the world,” Google spokesman Nu Wexler said. The company offered no further official comment.

INSTAGRAM-SELF-HARM IMAGES

Instagram changes rules on self-harm postings after suicide

LONDON (AP) — Instagram has agreed to ban graphic images of self-harm after objections were raised in Britain following the suicide of a teen whose father said the photo-sharing platform had contributed to her decision to take her own life.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said Thursday evening the platform is making a series of changes to its content rules.

He said: “We are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and we need to do more to protect the most vulnerable in our community.”

The company is also removing non-graphic images of self-harm from searches.

The call for changes was backed by the British government after the family of 14-year-old Molly Russell found material related to depression and suicide on her Instagram account after her death in 2017.

TARGET-PRICING

Target updates app after TV station reveals pricing jump

(Information in the following story is from: KARE-TV, http://www.kare11.com)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target has modified its smartphone app after a Minneapolis TV station reported that prices displayed on the app went up whenever users approached the retailer’s stores, sometimes by hundreds of dollars.

KARE-TV reports that the Minneapolis-based retailer recently released an updated version of its app that labels “online” or “in-store” prices next to each product. The update follows the station’s investigation into customer concerns about price jumps on the app depending on when users were inside or outside of a Target store.

The app asks users for access to their location, which enables them to find nearby stores or where specific items are located. But the location-tracking function also appeared to trigger price changes as users entered Target parking lots.

A Target spokeswoman says the changes make it easier for customers to understand its pricing policy.

JUUL-FDA PUSHBACK

FDA wants new meetings with Juul, Altria on teen vaping

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Food and Drug Administration is questioning whether electronic cigarette maker Juul and its new partner Altria are following through on pledges to help stop underage vaping.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Friday posted letters he sent to Juul and Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco products. He called for a joint meeting to discuss whether they are honoring their commitments to the agency.

In response, the two companies said they are moving ahead with plans to stop teens from getting their products.

Late last year, Altria paid nearly $13 billion to purchase a 35 percent stake in Juul, which now controls most of the U.S. e-cigarette market.

Previously, Altria said it was pulling several flavored vaping brands to be “part of the solution.”

OIL LEAK-PIPELINE

TransCanada: Keystone likely source of oil leak

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — TransCanada says its Keystone pipeline is likely the source of an oil leak near St. Louis.

Spokesman Terry Cunha in a Friday statement said crews continue to excavate the St. Charles County area where the leak was discovered Wednesday. He said TransCanada’s preliminary investigation points to Keystone.

A spokesman for Enbridge Inc. said it’s “highly confident” that its nearby Platte pipeline wasn’t the source.

The leak prompted closures of sections of both the Keystone and Platte pipelines.

Enbridge spokesman Devin Hotzel said Friday that the company expects its pipeline will be operating normally by Saturday.

Cunha says there’s no estimated time for the Keystone pipeline to return to service.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has estimated that about 43 barrels, or 1,800 gallons, of oil leaked. It said the oil did not get into any waterways.

SAN-FRANCISCO-GAS-EXPLOSION

Feds arrive to probe San Francisco gas blast

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) —

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate a natural gas explosion on a San Francisco street that sent flames into the air, damaging five buildings and sending panicked residents into the streets.

NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss says an eight-person team arrived at the scene Thursday night. Team members will be collecting evidence and trying to pin down what happened.

City fire officials say a crew digging on a street to install fiber-optic wires in the city’s Richmond neighborhood cut a natural gas line Wednesday.

However, Weiss cautions that it could be months or even years before a probable cause for the explosion is officially determined.

FASHION-BLACKFACE

Director Spike Lee boycotts Gucci, Prada over blackface

MILAN (AP) — Director Spike Lee says he will no longer wear Gucci or Prada until the brands hire some black designers, following a pair of blackface fashion fails.

Lee said on Instagram Friday that “It’s Obvious To Da Peoples That They Don’t Have A Clue When It Comes To Racist, Blackface Hateful Imagery. WAKE UP.”

Spike said the brands needed to have black designers “To Be In Da Room When It Happen.”

The personal boycott in the midst of movie awards season was a powerful message to luxury fashion houses that are already suffering backlashes for designs evoking racist images.

Gucci this week apologized for a high-neck black wool sweater that featured bright red lips when pulled over the face, while Prada apologized for a monkey bag charm resembling blackface in December.

GRAB AND GO SHOPPING

Grab a soda and go: Convenience stores get more convenient

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Get ready to say good riddance to the checkout line.

A year after Amazon opened its first cashier-less store, startups and retailers are racing to get similar technology in stores throughout the world, letting shoppers buy groceries without waiting in line.

If they work, cashier-less stores will not only save time but maybe money too. From cameras and sensors, the stores will know when shoppers pick up a product and put it down, and can send them a discount to tempt them to buy it. Merchants will receive more insights into how people shop. They can create more space for merchandise, better track when shelves need replenishing and draw more business from the hordes of customers who detest long lines.

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