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Update on the latest business

December 7, 2018

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks tumble

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling sharply on Wall Street, erasing an early gain, as the market closes in on its third weekly decline in four weeks.

Losses in technology and health care stocks are outweighing gains elsewhere in the market.

Energy companies led the gainers as crude oil prices rose on news that OPEC members agreed to cut production next year.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.89 percent.

ECONOMY-JOBS REPORT

US hiring slowed to 155K jobs, jobless rate stayed 3.7%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in November, adding just 155,000 jobs. That’s below this year’s average monthly gains but enough to suggest that the economy is expanding at a solid pace despite sharp gyrations in the stock market.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate remained 3.7%, nearly a five-decade low, for the third straight month. Average hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago, matching the previous month’s figure, which was the best since 2009.

The economy is expanding at a healthy pace but rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China, ongoing interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, and slowing global growth have roiled financial markets. Analysts expect growth to slow but remain solid in 2019 as the impact of last year’s tax cuts fade.

ECONOMY-JOBS REPORT-INDUSTRIES

Health care, business services lead November hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — Health care and business services led U.S. job gains in November, a month that saw slower hiring overall.

Health care firms gained more than 40,000 jobs, as hospitals, physicians’ offices and home health care providers added staff. Professional services, which include architects and consultants and administrative support, added 32,000.

Manufacturing companies hired 27,000 new workers, the most in seven months, signaling that trade tensions have yet to weaken factory hiring.

ECONOMY-JOBS REPORT-DEMOGRAPHICS

Jobless rates fall for black Americans, adult men

WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans, adult men and those with just a high school diploma made notable gains in the job market in November.

The jobless rate for black Americans fell to 5.9 percent, matching a record low hit earlier this year. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for adult men came in at 3.3 percent. That’s the lowest level since October 2000.

With the jobless rate so low, employers have complained this year about the difficulty of finding workers to fill jobs. That’s helping those with lower education levels. The jobless rate for those with only a high school diploma fell to 3.5 percent, the lowest level since December 2000.

The data for demographic groups came from a survey of households that is part of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

OPEC MEETING

OPEC agrees to cut in oil production

VIENNA (AP) — OPEC’s president says the oil cartel in conjunction with non-OPEC producers including Russia have agreed to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day in January for six months.

Suhail Mohamed al-Mazrouei, who is also the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister, said at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Vienna, that the reduction is a “major step forward.”

OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will cut production by 800,000 barrels a day while non-OPEC countries will trim 400,000.

Oil producers have been under pressure to reduce production following a sharp fall in oil prices over the past couple of months. The price of oil has fallen about 25 percent recently because major producers, including the U.S. which is not party to the agreement, are pumping oil at high rates.

CHINA-HUAWEI

Huawei replies to EU, says not a security risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Huawei (wah-way) Technologies is denying that it poses a security threat, after an EU commissioner raised concerns.

The Chinese telecom giant said Friday it has never been asked by any government to build “back doors” to its systems or “interrupt any networks.” It said in a statement, “We would never tolerate such behavior by any of our staff.”

The statement was in response to comments by EU tech commissioner Andrus Ansip, who said that after the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, “we have to be worried” about the company.

Ansip cited concerns Beijing could require Chinese tech companies to cooperate with intelligence services or add “back doors,” when asked about Huawei’s role in European 5G and driverless car projects.

Huawei said, “We categorically reject any allegation that we might pose a security threat.”

AUSTRALIA-ENCRYPTION-LAW

Australian leader says cybersecurity laws urgently needed

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister says new Australian cybersecurity laws that force global technology companies such as Facebook and Google to help police by unscrambling encrypted messages sent by extremists and other criminals were urgently needed to safeguard the nation.

The legislation was passed by the Senate late Thursday, the last day the Parliament sat in 2018.

The opposition Labor Party agreed to support the legislation as an emergency measure because extremists are expected to target Christmas-New Year crowds. But Labor Party lawmakers have said they want amendments passed when Parliament resumes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Labor’s decision to support the laws as a concession.

Morrison told Nine Network television on Friday: “This was very important legislation to give police and security agencies the ability to get into encrypted communications.”

TRUMP-BUDGET

Trump signs funding stopgap, setting holiday fight on wall

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed a stopgap spending bill to fund key government departments for two-weeks, setting up a pre-Christmas showdown over border wall funding.

Trump’s signature on the measure keeps the government open through Dec. 21. Both houses of Congress passed the measure by voice vote on Thursday.

Trump says wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for his proposed wall, something House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi rejected Thursday.

The stopgap bill avoided a partisan funding fight this week when Washington paused for ceremonies honoring former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30.

Trump is set to meet Tuesday at the White House with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

DEMOCRATS-INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

Dem leader: Infrastructure bills must tackle climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says legislation boosting federal investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure must include efforts to curb global warming.

Lawmakers have cited infrastructure investment as ripe for bipartisan agreement next year, but Schumer’s position could complicate things.

The Trump administration has prioritized undoing the Obama administration’s efforts to slow climate change.

Schumer said Friday in a letter to President Donald Trump that climate change will cause “untold human suffering and significant damage to the U.S. economy” if left unchecked. The New York Democrat is calling for permanent tax credits to boost production of wind and solar energy and to make homes and offices more energy efficient.

Schumer also is calling for loans to communities that would invest in projects that limit the damage caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

GAS EXPLOSIONS

Gas service mostly restored after September explosions

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — The utility company that caused the September natural gas pipeline explosions in Massachusetts says work to fully restore gas service is mostly complete.

Columbia Gas said Friday that 96 percent of affected customers in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover have had service restored.

The company says most of the homes and businesses still needing service restored are ones that chose to complete the work themselves rather than use the company’s contractors.

Columbia Gas says it’s been renewing efforts to help these customers. It also says some 900 people remain in temporary housing.

The Sept. 13 explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley killed one teen, injured about two dozen others, damaged more than 100 structures and left thousands without heat or hot water for weeks.

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