FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares higher as markets shrug off latest Trump threat

HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets turned higher Friday as investors brushed off initial worries about the Trump administration's latest threats of yet more tariffs on Chinese imports, indicating concerns were easing about a brewing trade battle between the world's two biggest economies.

In an announcement that came after U.S. stock trading closed Thursday, President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider slapping an extra $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. The surprise move was a further escalation of the deepening trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies, which just days earlier announced plans for $50 billion in import duties on each other's goods. The tariff threats had roiled financial markets but they had rebounded by Thursday on investor hopes the U.S. and China indicated would find a diplomatic solution.

Major U.S. benchmarks ended higher yesterday. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.7 percent to 2,662.84. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1 percent to 24,505.22. The Nasdaq composite added 0.5 percent to 7,076.55.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $63.50 a barrel.

The dollar slipped against the yen and the euro.

TRUMP-CHINA

Trump proposes $100 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider slapping $100 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

The move comes a day after China issued a $50 billion list of U.S. goods including soybeans and small aircraft for possible tariff hikes in an escalating and potentially damaging dispute.

The White House says Trump has instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to.

He's also instructed his secretary of agriculture "to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests."

Trump argues China's trade practices have led to the closure of American factories and the loss of millions of American jobs.

TRUMP-CHINA-REACT

China says it will fight US tariffs at any cost

UNDATED (AP) — China's commerce ministry says Beijing is prepared to fight the U.S. "at any cost" as a trade dispute between the world's two largest economies escalated with President Donald Trump ordering the U.S. trade representative to consider slapping an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.

The ministry said in a statement Friday that if Washington persisted in what Beijing describes as protectionism, China would "dedicate itself to the end and at any cost and will definitely fight back firmly."

Trump's surprise directive Thursday came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a U.S. move this week to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

VIRGIN GALACTIC

Virgin Galactic conducts 1st powered flight of new spaceship

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — Virgin Galactic's new spaceship climbed at supersonic speed over California's Mojave Desert on Thursday in the company's first powered flight since the fatal crash of its original rocketship in 2014.

The company says the flight of VSS Unity was a major step forward for its plans to carry tourists on suborbital hops into the lower reaches of space where they can see the Earth far below and the stars beyond.

Virgin Galactic said the milestone marked the start of the final portion of Unity's flight test program, which began after a 2014 test-flight crash of its predecessor, VSS Enterprise, that killed one of its two pilots and set back the project.

In previous test flights, Unity either remained attached to Virgin Mother Ship Eve, the specially designed jet that carries it aloft, or was released to glide back to the ground without lighting its engine.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON (AP) — Did March provide another month of blowout hiring? Was pay growth healthy? When the Labor Department issues its monthly jobs report today, those two questions will be the most closely watched barometers.

Economists have forecast that employers added a solid 185,000 jobs in March and that the unemployment rate dipped from 4.1 percent to a fresh 17-year low of 4 percent.

Also today, the Federal Reserve reports consumer credit data for February.

CONSUMER AGENCY-PAY RAISES

Mulvaney gives big pay bumps to his hires at consumer agency

NEW YORK (AP) — Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that President Donald Trump's appointee to oversee the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has given big pay raises to the deputies he hired to help him run the bureau.

Mick Mulvaney has hired at least eight political appointees since he took over the bureau. Four of them make $259,500 a year and one makes $239,595. That is more than the salaries of members of Congress and cabinet secretaries.

Kirsten Mork, the agency's chief of staff, makes $259,500 a year compared to the $167,300 she made working as congressional staffer. Brian Johnson makes $239,595 as a senior advisor to Mulvaney. He made $164,600 in Congress.

Two other appointees making $259,500 a year worked in other parts of the government, making $153,730 and $179,700, respectively.

FACEBOOK-PRIVACY SCANDAL

Facebook: Most users may have had public data 'scraped'

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's acknowledgement that most of its 2.2 billion members have probably had their personal data scraped by "malicious actors" is the latest example of the social network's failure to protect its users' data.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told reporters that Facebook is shutting down the ability to search for Facebook users by phone number or email address.

It turns out unscrupulous types figured out that they could use the search feature to collect information from people's profiles.

Zuckerberg said that most Facebook users have probably had their information stolen this way.

It was a stunning admission for a company already reeling from allegations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica misappropriated Facebook user information for political purposes.

DELTA AIR LINES-CYBER ATTACK

Delta: Data of 'several hundred thousand' customers exposed

UNDATED (AP) —Delta Air Lines now says that payment-card information about "several hundred thousand" customers may have been exposed by a malware breach last fall.

The airlines says that the malware attack may have exposed customers' names, addresses, credit card numbers, card security codes and expiration dates.

Delta offered the additional details about the attack on Thursday, a day after saying that only a "small subset" of customers was affected.

The airline says it believes that the malware was in software used by (24)7.ai, which provided the airline with online chat services for customers, for about two weeks. The software company says it discovered and fixed the breach in October.

TARGET-SETTLEMENT

Target settles suit claiming its hiring system discriminated

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is paying more than $3.7 million to settle a lawsuit that said its hiring process, which automatically rejected people with criminal backgrounds, disproportionately kept blacks and Hispanics from getting entry-level jobs at its stores.

As part of the settlement, Target has agreed to hire outside experts to review how it deals with applicants who have criminal backgrounds. Target says it has already made changes to its hiring process since it became aware of complaints from a job applicant more than a decade ago.

According to the lawsuit, blacks and Hispanics were harmed by the hiring system because they are arrested and incarcerated at higher rates than whites. The suit cited "systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system."

Target had about 345,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees as of February.

AMAZON-TRUMP-LOBBYING

As Trump tweets, Amazon seeks to expand its business empire

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amazon is spending millions of dollars on lobbying as the global online retailer seeks to expand its reach into a swath of industries that President Donald Trump's broadsides haven't come close to hitting.

Trump's attacks over the last week targeted what Amazon is best known for: rapidly shipping nearly any product imaginable to your door. But the company Jeff Bezos founded more than two decades ago is now a sprawling empire that sells groceries in brick-and-mortar stores, hosts the online services of other enterprises in a network of data centers, and recently branched into health care.

Amazon relies on an in-house lobbying team as well as outside firms to influence the lawmakers and federal regulators who can help determine its success.

Overall, Amazon spent $15.6 million on lobbying in 2017.

SKOREA-EARNS-SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS

Samsung Electronics estimates 56 percent jump in profit

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics says its first-quarter operating profit likely jumped 56 percent to a record high.

The South Korean tech giant estimated in its preliminary earnings report Friday that its January-March operating income was 15.6 trillion won ($14.7 billion), compared with 9.9 trillion won a year earlier. The estimate was higher than expected.

Sales rose 19 percent to an estimated 60 trillion won. The company did not disclose its estimated net income.

Analysts said Samsung likely recorded lower profit in its display business that supplies OLED screens for Apple's iPhones but strong demand for memory chips outweighed weaker display sales.

Samsung unseated Intel as the world's largest semiconductor maker last year on the back of solid demand for chips that hold data and help run programs faster for servers and phones.

GREENTECH-MCAULIFFE

Judge dismisses McAuliffe from suit over failed car company

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe from a lawsuit alleging he defrauded investors in a failed electric car company.

Thirty-two Chinese investors sued McAuliffe and Greentech Automotive last year. They say they were duped into investing $500,000 each into what they thought was a viable company.

The investments were made under a federal program that let foreign nationals receive U.S. residency visas if they invest in companies that create U.S. jobs.

Greentech filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after never getting off the ground.

McAuliffe had been Greentech's chairman but resigned in 2012. His lawyers argued he was unfairly dragged into the lawsuit years after his involvement with Greentech ended.

Judge Claude Hilton's March 30 ruling concluded the lawsuit failed to sufficiently articulate claims against McAuliffe.

JAPAN-OBIT-TAKAHATA

Studio Ghibli co-founder, director Isao Takahata dies at 82

TOKYO (AP) — Isao Takahata, co-founder of the prestigious Japanese animator Studio Ghibli that stuck to a hand-drawn "manga" look in the face of digital filmmaking, has died. He was 82.

Takahata, who directed "Grave of the Fireflies," a tragic tale about wartime childhood, died Thursday of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital, according to a studio statement.

Takahata started Ghibli with Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, hoping to create Japan's Disney.

His last film, "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya," based on a Japanese folktale, was nominated for a 2015 Oscar for best animation feature, although it did not win. He is also known for the 1970s Japanese TV series "Heidi, Girl of the Alps," based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.

Funeral services are planned for May 15.