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Update on the latest in business:

January 4, 2019

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Japanese shares skid, Shanghai climbs after Wall St sell-off

SINGAPORE (AP) — Japanese shares tumbled and Shanghai’s benchmark climbed Friday as Asian markets steadied following a technology-led sell-off on Wall Street.

Traders cheered a private survey released Friday showing that China’s services sector expanded in December.

Investors also were encouraged by news that the U.S. and China will hold trade talks in Beijing on Jan. 7 and 8. The U.S. delegation will be led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, a Commerce Ministry statement said Friday.

U.S. shares fell after Apple CEO Tim Cook told shareholders after markets closed Wednesday that Chinese iPhone sales were slipping. Cook said the company expects revenue of $84 billion in the last quarter of 2018, $7 billion less than analysts had forecast.

The broad S&P 500 index gave up 2.5 percent to 2,447.89 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2.8 percent to 22,868.22. The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of tech stocks, declined 3 percent to 6,463.50.

A report suggesting that U.S. manufacturing had slowed also weighed on sentiment. IHS Markit’s U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index was 53.8 in December, the lowest reading in more than two years, and down from 55.3 in the previous month. The index is on a 100-point scale, with 50 separating contraction from growth.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $47.50 per barrel.

The dollar strengthened against the yen and the euro.

ECONOMY-JOBS REPORT

A strong jobs report could provide reassurance on economy

UNDATED (AP) — Even with fear of a global economic slump depressing stock markets, Friday’s jobs report for December is expected to offer reassurance that the U.S. economy remains sturdy and on track to expand for a 10th straight year.

Economists have forecast that the Labor Department will report that employers added a solid 180,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate stayed at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent, according to the financial data firm FactSet.

Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that private businesses added a robust 271,000 jobs in December, a sign that companies expect decent growth to continue despite the overhang of risks.

And businesses are still searching for more workers. The employment site Glassdoor found that job postings have risen 17 percent in the past year to 6.7 million.

The expectation of continued strength in hiring would contrast with the chaos of the stock market, a raging trade war, a partial shutdown of the government and the perception of growing risks for the economy.

The government is about to enter its third week of a partial shutdown, with negotiations stalled over President Donald Trump’s insistence that Democrats agree on funding for a wall along the border with Mexico. And attacks by Trump on the Federal Reserve over its rate increases have raised doubts about Chairman Jay Powell’s status — a concern for both the markets and the economy.

US-CHINA-TARIFFS

China says US envoys due in Beijing for talks on trade fight

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government says American envoys will visit Beijing on Monday for talks on resolving a tariff fight that threatens to hobble global economic growth.

The two days of talks are aimed at carrying out last month’s agreement by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to postpone new tariff hikes, the Ministry of Commerce announced Friday. It said the American delegation will be led by a deputy U.S. trade representative, Jeffrey D. Gerrish, but gave no other details of the agenda or participants.

The American Embassy in Beijing didn’t immediately respond to a request for confirmation and additional details.

The Chinese government said last month that negotiations would start by focusing on farm goods, energy and automobiles.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Newly empowered House Dems pass funding plan without wall

WASHINGTON (AP) — On their first day in the majority, House Democrats have passed a plan to re-open the government without funding President Donald Trump’s promised border wall.

The largely party-line votes Thursday night came after Trump made a surprise appearance at the White House briefing room, pledging to keep up the fight for his signature campaign promise.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump and Senate Republicans should “take yes for an answer” and approve the border bill, which was virtually identical to a plan the Senate adopted on a voice vote last month.

Pelosi, who was elected speaker earlier Thursday, also took a shot a Trump, calling his proposal “a wall between reality and his constituents.”

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES-INSURANCE LAWSUITS

Insurers sue California utility over wildfire damages

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Several insurance companies have filed lawsuits blaming Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for a deadly California wildfire that destroyed 14,000 homes and triggered billions of dollars in insurance claims.

The lawsuits filed by Allstate, State Farm, USAA and their subsidiaries come on top of several other cases filed by victims of the Camp Fire, which devastated the towns of Paradise, Magalia and Concow north of Sacramento after it started Nov. 8.

Investigators have not pinpointed a cause for the fire. But the insurance companies note in their lawsuits that flames ignited near the site of a transmission-line irregularity reported by the utility. They also note a potential second ignition point involving PG&E distribution lines.

Under California law, PG&E is held entirely liable if lawyers can prove the fire is linked to the utility’s power lines or other equipment — a fact that sent shares of the company tumbling following the start of the fire.

GROWING UP DIGITAL-SMARTPHONE PSYCHIATRY

Detecting depression: Phone apps could monitor teen angst

UNDATED (AP) — Smartphones have been blamed for contributing to depression and suicidal behavior in susceptible teens.

But what if they could be used to identify kids at risk? That idea is the spark for a race to develop phone apps to detect impending mental health crises. Developers say as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts, or hole up in their rooms watching YouTube, they’re leaving enormous digital footprints that may offer clues to their psyches. Studies are underway to find out.

Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being.

Changes in typing speed, voice tone, word choice and how often kids stay home could signal trouble, according to preliminary studies.

There might be as many as 1,000 smartphone “biomarkers” for depression, said Dr. Thomas Insel, former head of the National Institute of Mental Health and now a leader in the smartphone psychiatry movement.

Researchers are testing experimental apps that use artificial intelligence to try to predict depression episodes or potential self-harm.

HEALTH OVERHAUL

As health law case goes to appeals court, sign-ups steady

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic attorneys general on Thursday appealed a federal court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, as new enrollment numbers underscored the staying power of the Obama-era law.

The government reported that about 8.4 million Americans have signed up this year under the law, reflecting steady demand for its subsidized health insurance. President Donald Trump still disdains “Obamacare,” but he failed to repeal it after promising a better plan in its place.

The Democratic attorneys general said they’ve launched their appeal of a recent ruling by a conservative federal judge in Texas who declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. In Washington, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a vote next week on a resolution that would authorize lawyers for the House to join the appeal.

The health law remains in place while the lawsuit continues before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department releases December employment data today.

The report is expected to offer reassurance that the U.S. economy remains sturdy and on track to expand for a 10th straight year.

SHUTDOWN-ECONOMIC IMPACT

Worries grow about impact of a prolonged government shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — With President Donald Trump warning that it “could be a long time” before the partial shutdown of the government ends, concerns are rising about potential economic damage given that the shutdown is coinciding with other threats.

Most analysts don’t regard the shutdown alone as severe enough to imperil an economic expansion that has lasted nearly a decade. But should it drag into February, the slowdown in government activity could help shake confidence and cause businesses and consumers to stop spending.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, says “The shutdown is coming on top of lots of other problems — the trade war, the slump in the stock market, Brexit,” and President Donald Trump’s “political problems.”

AUTO SALES

US new-vehicle sales in 2018 rise slightly to 17.27 million

DETROIT (AP) — Sales of new vehicles in the U.S. rose slightly in 2018, defying predictions and highlighting a strong economy.

Automakers reported an increase of 0.3 percent over a year ago to 17.27 million vehicles.

The increase came despite rising interest rates, a volatile stock market, and rising car and truck prices that pushed some buyers out of the new-vehicle market.

Industry analysts and automakers said strong economic fundamentals pushed up the sales and should keep them near historic highs in 2019.

BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB-CELGENE

Bristol-Myers Squibb buying Celgene in $74B deal

SUMMIT, N.J. (AP) — Bristol-Myers Squibb is spending $74 billion on fellow drugmaker Celgene in a deal aimed at stocking the combined company’s development pipeline with cancer, immunology and cardiovascular treatments.

Bristol would gain the cancer treatment Revlimid in the cash-and-stock deal announced Thursday, as well as inflammatory disease treatments and several products close to launching.

The combined company will have nine products with more than $1 billion in annual sales. Bristol’s product portfolio already includes Orencia, an injected drug for rheumatoid arthritis, and the cancer treatment Opdivo.

Bristol Chairman and CEO Giovanni Caforio says the combination will create a deep product portfolio that drives growth.

Shareholders of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., based in New York, would own about 69 percent of the company, with Celgene shareholders owning about 31 percent.

OBIT-HERB KELLEHER

Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, dies at 87

DALLAS (AP) — Herb Kelleher, who changed the airline industry by helping create and lead Southwest Airlines, a low-fare carrier that made air travel more accessible to the masses, has died. He was 87.

Southwest confirmed that Kelleher died on Thursday.

Kelleher was a lawyer in San Antonio when a client came to him in the late 1960s with the idea for a low-fare airline that would fly between big cities in Texas. Today, Southwest carries more passengers within the United States than any airline.

At a time when many other airlines were run by colorless finance wizards, Kelleher boasted about drinking whiskey and showed a gift for wacky marketing ploys.

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