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Business Highlights

December 31, 2018

US stocks end dismal, volatile year on a bright note

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street closed out a dismal, turbulent year for stocks on a bright note Monday, but still finished 2018 with the worst showing in a decade.

After setting a series of records through the late summer and early fall, major U.S. indexes fell sharply after early October, leaving them all in the red for the year.

Wall Street started 2018 strong, buoyed by a growing economy and corporate profits. Stocks climbed to new highs early, shook off a sudden, steep drop by spring and rode a wave of tax cut-juiced corporate earnings growth to another all-time high by September. Then the jitters set in.

Investors grew worried that the testy U.S.-China trade dispute and higher interest rates would slow the economy, hurting corporate profits. A slowing U.S. housing market and forecasts of weaker global growth in 2019 stoked traders’ unease.

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China factory activity falls amid tariff fight, economic downturn

BEIJING (AP) — A survey Monday shows that China’s factory activity shrank in December for the first time in more than two years, intensifying pressure on Beijing to reverse an economic slowdown as it enters trade talks with the Trump administration.

The purchasing managers’ index of the National Bureau of Statistics and an industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, fell to 49.4 from November’s 50.0 on a 100-point scale. Any reading below 50 shows that activity is contracting. The December figure was the lowest since February 2016 and the first drop since July 2016.

In the quarter that ended in September, China’s economic growth sank to a post-global crisis low of 6.5 percent compared with a year earlier.

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House Democrats have plan to re-open government

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are introducing a package of bills Monday that would re-open the federal government without approving money for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico, establishing an early confrontation that will test the new power dynamic in Washington.

The House is preparing to vote as soon as the new Congress convenes Thursday, as one of the first acts after Democrats take control, according to an aide who was not authorized to discuss the plan and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The package to end the shutdown will include one bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels, with $1.3 billion for border security, through Feb. 8.

It will also include six other bipartisan bills — some that have already passed the Senate — to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown. They would provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to Sept. 30.

Democrats under Nancy Pelosi are all but certain to swiftly approve the package in two separate votes planned for Thursday. What’s unclear is whether the Republican-led Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will consider it or if Trump would sign it into law.

The partial government shutdown is in its second week over Trump’s demand for $5 billion for the wall.

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Michael Kors, now Capri Holdings, completes Versace deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Having added a pair of high-end brands to its stable, Michael Kors is changing its name to Capri.

The company announced the acquisition of the Italian fashion house Versace for more than $2 billion (1.83 billion euros) in September, less than two years after acquiring Jimmy Choo, the shoemaker that rocketed to fame on the high heels of “Sex and the City.”

Michael Kors Holdings, like its counterparts in France, has charged aggressively into the upper echelons of luxury fashion hoping to pump up sales. Kering snapped up Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Pomelato and LVMH bought Bulgari and Loro Piana.

Capri Holdings Ltd. is projecting $8 billion in annual sales, with most of that coming from Michael Kors. Starting Wednesday, its New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol will be CPRI.

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Court extends detention for Nissan ex-chair Ghosn by 10 days

TOKYO (AP) — A Tokyo court says that former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn will be detained at least through Jan. 11, as the once revered auto industry figure faces allegations that have marked a stunning downfall.

Ghosn, who led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades and helped save the Japanese automaker from near bankruptcy, was arrested Nov. 19 on suspicion of falsifying financial reports. He also faces a breach of trust allegation, for which his detention had been approved previously through Jan. 1.

The Tokyo District Court said in a statement that it had approved prosecutors’ request for a 10-day extension.

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The S&P 500 index, the market’s main benchmark, finished the year with a loss of 6.2 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 5.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite sank 12.2 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched up 0.2 percent to settle at $45.41 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international prices, gained 1.1 percent to $53.80 a barrel in London.

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