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Update on the latest in business:

August 6, 2018


Asian stocks rise after solid US jobs report

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly higher Monday, despite a new Chinese threat of tariff hikes on U.S. goods, after Washington reported solid employment numbers.

Last week, Kraft Heinz climbed after the maker of Oscar Mayer meats and Jell-O pudding said improved sales in Europe and Asia helped offset weaker results from the U.S. and Canada. Cereal maker Post Holdings and video game publisher Take-Two Interactive both climbed after reporting better-than-expected financial results. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.5 percent Friday to 2,840.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5 percent to 25,462.58. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 7,812.01.

The Chinese government issued a $60 billion list of U.S. goods including semiconductors and industrial chemicals targeted for retaliation if Washington goes ahead with its latest tariff threat. The Finance Ministry said the charges, ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent, will take effect if the Trump administration goes ahead with plans to impose 25 percent duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The two sides already have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in a dispute over Beijing’s technology policy.

Regulators tightened controls on trading in China’s yuan in a possible effort to stop its decline against the dollar.

Saudi Arabia ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the ultraconservative kingdom and said it would freeze “all new business” after criticism of its arrests of activists.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $69 per barrel.

The dollar declined against the yen and gained against the euro.


Insurance companies approach Trump health plans cautiously

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says insurers are “going wild” about his new health care options and “millions and millions” of people will be signing up.

But insurance companies say it will take time to design new plans and get approval from state regulators, and two major industry groups have actually expressed concern about potential downsides for consumers.

For people who need an individual policy and are anticipating cheaper plans this fall, the advice seems to be: Look carefully and read the fine print.

Short-term, limited-duration insurance— just approved — and association health plans represent the Trump administration alternatives to comprehensive but costly policies under the Affordable Care Act. Both offer lower premiums than comprehensive health insurance but also cover less. The plans won’t be sold through HealthCare.gov.

Myra Simon of the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans said consumers are likely to see advertising this fall for short-term plans but association plans may be harder to find, since they’re not open to everybody. Policyholders must have a common link, such as working in an industry like real estate.


China tightens controls to slow currency’s fall

BEIJING (AP) — China has tightened controls on trading in its yuan in a possible effort to stop a decline against the U.S. dollar that has raised the danger of an outflow of capital from the world’s second-largest economy.

Traders must post a 20 percent deposit effective Monday for contracts to buy and sell yuan on a future date. That will raise the cost of betting the currency might fall further, which might help to discourage speculators.

Beijing allowed the yuan to fall by 8 percent against the dollar since early February. That helps Chinese exporters that face U.S. tariff hikes by lowering the price of their goods in dollar terms. But it also could encourage investors to shift money out of China, raising financing costs for companies in the country.


More change ahead for New York’s shrinking garment district

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of garment workers once toiled in the sweaty, elbow-to-elbow workshops of midtown Manhattan before the whirring of sewing machines was mostly silenced by foreign competition.

But the city’s garment district isn’t dead yet.

A group of manufacturers, landlords, designers and politicians has a plan to preserve a remnant of the garment industry in a neighborhood where about 5,000 people are still employed in workshops mostly serving higher-end designers, while doing away with zoning rules that critics said put onerous restrictions on prime real estate.

City Hall wants to preserve at least 300,000 square feet for garment manufacturing, but allow real estate developers to bring in more 21st century businesses. Property owners have already pledged to fill 300,000 square feet with apparel manufacturing, and the city is seeking to add more. For now, that’s millions of fewer square feet than factories occupied in the industry’s glory days from the 1920s to the 1960s.

The plan, if approved by the City Council, would lift 1987 zoning that reserved about 4 million square feet of space in the garment district’s high-rises for apparel-production businesses. Today’s garment workshops occupy only an estimated 700,000 square feet, according to the city’s Economic Development Corp.

And many say that number will likely dwindle away without the city’s protection.

A Council vote is expected in the next few months.


Business and economic reports scheduled for early in the week

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are no major economic reports scheduled for release today.

On Tuesday, however, the Labor Department will release its job openings and labor turnover survey for June.

Also, the Federal Reserve reports the consumer credit data for June.

The Walt Disney Co. will report quarterly financial results after the market closes.


Wells Fargo says mistake led to hundreds of foreclosures

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Wells Fargo says a company mistake contributed to hundreds of foreclosures because it miscalculated customers’ eligibility for mortgage modifications.

The bank said in a filing Friday the error caused about 625 customers to be denied, or not offered, loan modifications they otherwise qualified for. Foreclosures were completed in about 400 cases.

The customers had been using federal programs that helped families at risk of losing homes. A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a question about where the foreclosures were.

The error in the bank’s underwriting tool lasted from 2010 until it was fixed in late 2015, an internal review found.

The bank said it set aside $8 million this year to help the affected customers.


Apple iPhone chip supplier says virus will delay shipments

UNDATED (AP) — A company that makes semiconductors for Apple iPhones says it is recovering from a virus outbreak but expects the incident to delay shipments and raise costs.

Taiwan Semiconductor Co. Ltd. said 80 percent of the fabrication tools affected by Friday’s virus had been recovered by Sunday. TSMC expects full recovery on Monday.

The company didn’t detail the impact on Apple or other customers. Apple Inc. did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The semiconductor company blames the outbreak on a mistake during installation of software for a new tool, which was then connected to its computer network. It says confidential information was not compromised.

The company says the incident will cut third-quarter revenue by about 3 percent. But it’s confident it will get that back in the fourth quarter.


American boat makers feel the crunch from Trump tariffs

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — American boat makers are getting pummeled on multiple fronts by tariffs in an escalating trade war. They stand to be among the hardest-hit industries in the battle over tariffs.

Boat makers are feeling the crunch on multiple levels.

President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has driven up the price of those essential materials for many boat makers. Europe, Canada and Mexico retaliated with tariffs on American-made boats. And new tariffs imposed on parts such as engines and navigation equipment imported from China are also pushing up costs.

Industry leaders have met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and trade representatives and tried to make the case that this is a truly American industry being used as a pawn in a trade war.


Amazon removes Nazi-themed items after complaints

UNDATED (AP) — Amazon says it has removed items with Nazi or white supremacist symbols from its website after criticism from advocacy groups.

An executive for the Seattle-based online retail giant says the company has blocked the accounts of some retailers and might suspend them.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota complained to Amazon. The company told Ellison that it prohibits listing products that promote or glorify hatred, violence or intolerance.

In early July, the Partnership for Working Families and the Action Center on Race and the Economy highlighted Amazon listings including swastika pendants, baby onesies with burning cross logos and a costume that makes the wearer look like he has been lynched — the model appears to be a black man.


‘Mission: Impossible’ bests Winnie-the-Pooh at box office

NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Cruise has outrun Winnie-the-Pooh at the box office. “Mission: Impossible -- Fallout” topped ticket sales for the second straight weekend with an estimated $35 million despite newcomer “Christopher Robin.”

According to studio estimates Sunday, the sixth “Mission: Impossible” installment has amassed $124 million in its first 10 days of release. That pace is better than most previous entries in the Tom Cruise franchise.

Disney’s live-action Winnie-the-Pooh revival “Christopher Robin” opened on the low side of expectation with $25 million. It marks the rare Disney film not to open number one, though the studio had other milestones to celebrate. “Black Panther” on Saturday became just the third film to cross $700 million domestically.

The R-rated action-comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” opened in third with $12.4 million.


H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest, former cable TV, media mogul, dies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former cable TV mogul and Philadelphia newspaper owner who gave away most of his $1.2 billion fortune to charity has died.

H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest was 88. Family friend Fred Stein said he died Sunday of complications from chronic illness.

Lenfest owned The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com before donating it to a journalism nonprofit.

He made his fortune by selling his Suburban Cable company to Comcast Corp. in 2000. The small cable franchise he bought in central Pennsylvania in the 1970s had become one of the country’s largest cable companies.

He and his wife Marguerite became philanthropists through the Lenfest Foundation, which primarily focuses on education and scholarship programs.

Their generosity also touched arts organizations, schools, hospitals, museums and conservation groups.

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