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World markets mostly lower ... China and Washington to hold trade talks this month ... May battles to keep Brexit on track

January 17, 2019

SINGAPORE (AP) — World markets have been mostly lower today on renewed concern over the outlook for China’s economy after some provinces lowered their growth targets for 2019. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, the Shanghai Composite index and Japan’s Nikkei closed lower. South Korea’s Kospi and shares in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia closed higher. Wall Street is set for early losses, with Dow futures 0.3 percent lower and S&P 500 futures 0.4 percent lower.

BEIJING (AP) — The top U.S. and Chinese trade envoys will hold talks in Washington this month in a possible sign of progress toward ending a costly tariff battle over Beijing’s technology ambitions. The Ministry of Commerce announcement of the Jan. 30-31 event was the first sign of a next step by the two sides following negotiations in Beijing earlier this month between lower-level officials.

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May has been consulting opposition parties and other lawmakers today in a battle to put Brexit back on track after surviving a no-confidence vote. European Union countries are stepping up preparations for a disorderly British exit on March 29 after the U.K. Parliament rejected May’s Brexit withdrawal deal with the bloc. Lawmakers threw out the deal Tuesday, in a crushing defeat for May, who suffered the worst parliamentary defeat in modern British history.

LONDON (AP) — France’s government is kicking off a 50 million-euro (about $57 million) plan to prepare for the increasingly likely possibility that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 without a plan. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the government will start hiring 600 extra government employees including customs agents to handle cross-border trade and security. He says the plan also includes money for airports and ports, which are “most concerned” by the prospect of a so-called hard Brexit.

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft has pledged $500 million to address homelessness and develop affordable housing in response to the Seattle region’s widening affordability gap. Microsoft President Brad Smith says most of the money will be aimed at increasing housing options in the Puget Sound region for low- and middle-income workers at a time when they’re being priced out of Seattle and some of its suburbs, and when the vast majority of new buildings target wealthier renters.

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