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Update on the latest in business:

December 20, 2018


Asian stocks plunge after Wall Street fall on rate hike

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets plunged today, following Wall Street’s drop after the Federal Reserve raised U.S. interest rates.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index plummeted 3.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.7 percent and Seoul’s Kospi shed 1.3 percent. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 1.3 percent and India’s Sensex gave up 0.7 percent. Taiwan and other Southeast Asian markets also retreated.

On Wednesday on Wall Street, stocks gave up a rally and plunged, sending the market to its lowest level since September 2017. The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung from a gain to close down 1.5 percent at 23,323.66. The S&P 500 skidded 1.5 percent to 2,506.96. It has lost 9.2 percent this month. The Nasdaq composite gave up 2.2 percent to 6,636.83.


Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freddie Mac reports on this week’s average U.S. mortgage rates today.


US sanctions Russians for election meddling, nerve agent use

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned 15 Russians over hacking, interference in U.S. elections and a nerve agent attack in England.

In a separate action Wednesday, the agency also announced plans to lift sanctions on the aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal. It comes after the department approved a plan that severed Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s control of the company.

The sanctions announced Wednesday include actions against nine Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and releasing tens of thousands of private communications.

The Treasury Department says Russia’s “continued disregard for international norms” necessitated the sanctions.

Sanctions were also levied against Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. They’ve been charged by British officials with the botched assassination attempt on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.


Budweiser maker teams up with Tilray to explore pot drinks

NEW YORK (AP) — The maker of Budweiser is partnering with medical cannabis company Tilray in a $100 million deal to research cannabis-infused drinks for the Canadian market.

Anheuser-Busch InBev and Tilray Inc. said each would invest $50 million in the project announced Wednesday. The companies will study non-alcoholic drinks containing cannabidiol, or CBD, which some claim has calming and healing affects, and THC, the cannabis compound known for its psychoactive effects.

Canada legalized recreational marijuana in October, leading to a surge in interest from beer and tobacco companies looking to invest in the market.

British Columbia-based Tilray Inc. has products available in 12 countries. Belgium-based AB InBev is the owner of hundreds of beer brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois.


Michigan panel OKs Great Lakes pipeline tunnel

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A plan to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath a channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan has won final approval.

One week after it was established, a Michigan panel approved an agreement between outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge. It calls for drilling the 4-mile (6.4 kilometer) tunnel through bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac.

The new pipeline segment will replace twin pipes along the lake bed. They are part of Enbridge’s Line 5. The pipeline carries oil and natural gas liquids between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

The unanimous approval from the three-member Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority accomplishes Snyder’s goal of sealing the deal before leaving office this month. His successor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, has criticized the tunnel plan.


US miscalculated benefits of oil train brakes

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration miscalculated potential damages from train derailments when it canceled an Obama-era rule requiring the installation of more advanced brakes by railroads hauling explosive fuels.

A government analysis used to justify the cancellation omitted up to $117 million in potential reduced damages from using electronic brakes. The error could stoke criticism from supporters of the rule.

Department of Transportation officials acknowledged the error after it was discovered by The Associated Press during a review of federal documents. Still, they said it was unintentional and would not have made a difference.

The brake rule was adopted under President Barack Obama following a string of fiery derailments of trains hauling oil and ethanol.

The railroad and oil industries have pushed to cancel the rule citing its high costs.


Foes of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline file appeals in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Opponents of Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota have filed appeals to challenge the state Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the project.

Environmental and tribal groups filed initial notices Wednesday with the Minnesota Court of Appeals against the commission’s decision to grant a certificate of need for the project.

Filing a joint appeal were the Red Lake and White Earth Ojibwe tribes, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club. Also filing was Friends of the Headwaters. Planning to file Thursday are the Youth Climate Intervenors, a group of teens and 20-somethings with official status in the proceedings.

Canada-based Enbridge says Line 3 is the most-studied pipeline project in Minnesota history, and that it believes the courts will reaffirm the PUC’s decisions.


Japan court denies extended detention of Nissan’s Ghosn

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese court has denied prosecutors’ request to extend detention of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The Tokyo District Court today rejected the request for another 10-day detention over his indictment for falsification of financial reports.

Ghosn was arrested Nov. 19, along with another executive, Greg Kelly, over allegations that they underreported Ghosn’s pay in 2011-2015 and both have since been charged.

The arrest of an industry icon has raised concerns over the Japanese automaker and the future of its alliance with Renault SA of France.


Tribe seeks to build Virginia’s first casino in Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Indian tribe that greeted English settlers at Jamestown and claims Pocahontas among its lineage said Wednesday that it hopes to open Virginia’s first casino in the city of Norfolk.

Pamunkey Indian Tribe spokesman Jay Smith said the tribe is eyeing about 20 acres (eight hectares) along the Elizabeth River between a minor league baseball stadium and an Amtrak station near Norfolk’s downtown. Negotiations are already underway with officials in Virginia’s second-largest city.

The Pamunkey announced plans earlier this year to build a $700 million resort and casino in its ancestral region. The tribe says that area includes central Virginia near Richmond and stretches down to the Hampton Roads region, where Norfolk is located.

The Pamunkey were among the group of tribes led by Chief Powhatan in what is now Virginia. Many had lost their lands in the 1700s.


Iran’s Persian rug-makers suffer as US unravels nuclear deal

KASHAN, Iran (AP) — As the Trump administration works to unravel Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with word powers, the producers of the country’s famed Persian carpets fear they will lose vital markets.

Before the U.S. withdrew from the deal and began restoring crippling sanctions earlier this year, the $425 million a year industry preserved an ancient tradition while providing much-needed income to Iranians as well as Afghan refugees, who create much of the more luxurious hand-woven pieces.

Despite the decades of mutual hostility stemming from the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the United States is one of the biggest markets for Persian rugs, accounting for more than a quarter of all exports. But that is set to change as the U.S. imposes what it says are the toughest sanctions in history.

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